My July 2020 Photo of the Month is OH8063, photographed along Old Highway 80 in San Diego County’s In-Ko-Pah Park area.
OH8063 Background – Adventures Along Old Highway 80
Some of you may know that photographing Old Highway 80 has long been an interest of mine. Interstate 8 has largely bypassed this old road. Much of the highway in San Diego is intact, and some pieces of the road date back as early as 1915. This was the Bankhead Highway that pre-dated the 1926 naming of Route 80 from San Diego to Tybee Island, Georgia.
I find that sections of the road “on the margins” are my favorite. This particular section is actually a stub. It only exists from this spot just North of In-Ko-Pah Park, and ends right at the Desert View Tower.
After our “May Gray” and “June Gloom” subside, the lack of marine layer gives way to early Summer doldrums until the monsoon season arrives (if it arrives at all). The days are long, the sun never stops, and as a landscape photographer, you have to wait and wait until the clouds arrive.
We finally got some monsoon weather. These were mostly high-level clouds, but enough moisture arrived to make the day great for touring East San Diego County.
I enjoy this photo for many reasons. The “End” sign, of course, denotes a section of Old Highway 80 that was removed with the installation of Interstate 8. But it isn’t the end. A dirt trail, well-used by ATVs still exists beyond. The freeway continues behind it.
Framing The Image
I took several photographs with no traffic, in an attempt to show the freeway beyond. A drone was needed for this idea. I wasn’t high enough to make the image work. I moved to other ideas, including some of the abandoned original concrete that was deposited on the side of the road. Even old iron rebar was still visible in places.
As luck would have it, a commercial truck was coming up the hill, and I ran to my original spot. I think what makes the “The End Is Not The End” work in this photograph is the truck just beyond it. It’s a measure of progress, and…a measure of something lost as well. It can’t really be the end when a freeway, truck, and so many different power lines lie beyond. It is the end of something, but progress doesn’t end. How’s that for a thought of the day?
Perhaps Interstate 8 itself will be replaced someday. I doubt people will reminisce about it the same way we do about Old Highway 80.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.