When the Roads End Resort upriver from Kernville was destroyed during the McNally Fire in 2002, it was the end of an era. The rustic, picturesque and historical resort was much beloved by local residents and visitors.
On Sunday, about 50 people gathered at the spot to remember the long history of the resort and to dedicate a plaque to mark the location.
The historical marker was the brainchild of Kern Valley Historical Society President Vickie Middleworth and board member Charles Topping. Middleworth felt that the history of the Roads End Resort area should be honored. Topping is a member of E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization which regularly places plaques at historic spots around the country. So they got their groups together, and with cooperation from Sequoia National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service and Southern California Edison, made the memorial a reality.
The location was literally the end of the road when Southern California Edison opened up the area in 1910. It was then known as Camp 8. It was their base camp while they were constructing the intake for the KR3 Power Plant just north of Kernville. The intake for the pipelines that run the plant is a mile and a half north of Roads End.
In 1920, Earl Pascoe set up a pack station and lodge at Roads End. Four generations of his family were there on Sunday for the dedication. The station featured walled tents, had up to 150 horses and mules, and Pascoe and his men packed hunters and fishermen up to the Kern Plateau. The station eventually included a store, restaurant, school and post office.
Vic Pascoe, Earl's grandson, thanked the E Clampus Vitus members (the "Clampers") and the Historical Society and shared a photograph of his grandfather. He told the crowd that his grandpa was one of the first snow measurers in the area, walking about 150 miles on snowshoes to accomplish this task. He said, "He had a great respect for the forest and a love of it. He and the men who worked for him put back into Mother Nature whatever they took out. They were stewards of the forest."
Carolyn Pascoe Green was 2 years old when her father, Earl, opened the pack station. She said, "We kids all worked around the place and we were too busy to keep track of who was where. I wouldn't have missed it for anything."
In 1936, the area became a camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Those workers extended the road to Johnsondale Lumber Camp, which is now R Ranch.
In 1970, Al and Fran Keegan purchased Roads End and ran the lodge and a restaurant there called The Tender House. Al passed away in 1992 and Fran continued the enterprise. Keegan, who subsequently married Mark Kerneghan Sr., was there at the dedication. She read aloud the inscription on the plaque and said, "I'm delighted to see that something is being done to commemorate this spot."
Fran's daughter, Barbara Keegan Zimmerman, now a teacher at South Fork Elementary School, recalls how upset she was at the time of the fire. But, she said, "No fire can remove the memories. We have to keep telling the story."
Kernville Chamber of Commerce President Mike Ludiker said, "This is a very special place to me. I lived here and worked at the Tender House, and this is where I met the love of my life, Patti." Patti Stucker is also the daughter of the Keegans.
Cheryl Bauer, spokeswoman for the Forest Service said, "This is a very special place. This is the first step in saving its history. We plan to establish a kiosk with pictures of the pack station, post office, school and restaurant. The fire that burned this area was the largest fire we have had on the Sequoia National Forest to date. It will be many years before the plants and trees all come back." She advised the crowd that students from South Fork Middle School have been planting trees at the spot.