Centennial Celebration Tour of El Camino Real as First State Highway

Text by Mark and Kay Barchas
Photos by Mark Barchas and Milt Wheeler

In January, Mark and Kay Barchas discovered that El Camino Real was the very first California State Highway and that the first segment to be paved was San Bruno to Burlingame starting August 7, 1912. Since its 100th birthday was coming up, we decided to celebrate this centennial with a major gathering of vintage automobiles to tour the first segment of El Camino Real, starting in San Bruno and ending with a picnic lunch in Burlingame.

We assembled the morning of Tuesday, August 7, 2012 with approximately 70 cars, 2/3 of them pre-war, 24 owned by members of the MPOTAC. Twelve of the cars were Packards, exceeded in number only by the Fords. There was a ceremony at San Bruno City Hall with brief speeches by local and state dignitaries, including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, the Mayor of San Bruno, the Head of Cal Trans, and a member of the County Board of Supervisors. This was followed by a costumed reenactment of the "first dig." After the ceremony, we caravanned the seven miles down El Camino to Burlingame, where we parked under the oaks in Washington Park and had a picnic, complete with birthday cakes. Becky Schuette's mother, 100 years old, was kind enough to blow out the candles.

Many organizations joined with us to put on this event, including CalTrans, the San Mateo County Historical Association, the City of San Bruno, SamTrans, and the Grand Boulevard Initiative, which is working towards upgrading El Camino into a truly grand boulevard. The Mid Peninsula Old Time Auto Club was the sponsor for the vintage auto part, with Nor Cal Packards playing a strong supporting role. Members of both clubs helped the morning of the event to organize the cars and procession. Many local old car clubs encouraged their members to attend, including The Bay Area Horseless Carriage Club, several Model A and Model T Clubs, Early Ford V-8 Club, Vintage Chevrolet Club, and many more. This was one of the largest local tours ever of vintage autos for most of us. More than one movie was made of our procession, which we are trying to make accessible.

The vehicles included a 1921 fire engine from San Mateo and an amazing array of Model T's. Other spectacular cars included Ed and Karen Archer's 1906 Locomobile, pictured loaded with costumed passengers, Lynn Kissel's 1914 Kissel Touring Car, and Dan Erceg's 1916 Pierce Arrow.

The reality exceeded our expectations and everyone seemed to have a really grand time!

View Pictures of the Event

Participating MPOTAC members and their cars included:

  • Ed & Karen Archer in their '06 Locomobile
  • Bill & Pat Bratt in their '15 T Depot Truck
  • Bob Edwards in his '19 Ford T Touring with Bob Moll
  • Milt & Marie Cavalli in their '19 Ford T
  • Ed & Maureen Krantz in their '20 Overland Truck
  • Stan Cocoles in his '22 Franklin Sedan
  • Frank & Tanya Pomposo in their '26 Chevy Touring Car
  • John Meyer in his '27 Ford T Touring Car
  • Manny & Adele Fortes in their '28 Buick
  • Bob & Mary Kennel in their '29 Ford Model A
  • Lou Matas in his '29 Ford A Tudor
  • Richard Griffith in his '29 Hudson Dual Cowl
  • Ernie & Lucie Roeder in their '30 Ford Model A
  • Rick & Joanne Colgate in their '30 Ford A Roadster
  • Vince & Marilyn Perry in their '31 Ford A Roadster
  • Ed & Betty Jo Linney in their '31 Ford Model A
  • Mark & Kay Barchas in their '36 Packard 120 Convertible Coupe
  • Bob & Bernadine Goetz in their '40 Ford Coupe
  • Jim Remington in his '40 Packard 120 Sedan
  • Tim & Kathy Toland in their '40 Packard 110 Convertible Coupe
  • Harry Rampone in his '41 Cadillac 62
  • Hal & Becky Schuette in their '49 Packard Sedan
  • Darryl Lindsay in his '68 Ford Custom 500 Police Car
  • Phil Pollio in his '65 Plymouth Barracuda