Monday, August 20, 2018

• Who Was Clinton Keith?

Last month Clinton Keith Road was extended east to the 79 and it got people asking, who's this Clinton Keith?

First, it's interesting to know that "Clinton" wasn't his name. Well, it was his middle name, but he wasn't known by that name; he was known by the nickname "Bud".
Archive photo of Adna Clinton "Bud" Keith taken in the 1960's.
In his capacity as county surveyor for Riverside County, he would sign official documents as A.C. Keith. The story goes that no one in the county ever knew what the "A" stood for (I guess they didn't have the same type of employment paperwork to fill out back then), and it's said that he kidded his colleagues by saying that he'd reveal his first name upon his retirement. (more on that in a bit)

He was born in Perris in 1903, and his family later moved to Riverside where he attended Longfellow Elementary, Poly High School and then later studied civil engineering at UC Berkeley.

In 1925 he got his foot in the door with Riverside County as a deputy county surveyor. During his first twenty years, he worked on many key road projects. Among them were the Riverside County side of Ortega Highway and Pines to Palms Highway.
Thanks to Google Maps that we can take a look at a sign that is no longer there.

When his boss, Alex Fulmor, retired in 1945 the county board of supervisors didn't hesitate to promote Keith to the job of County Surveyor. In those days the position was an elected post. He won reelection in 1946 and was given the additional job of County Road Commissioner.

He continued in those positions until the age of 68 in 1971. As he was closing in on retirement, the county wanted to honor Mr. Keith's years of service by naming a street after him; Slaughterhouse Canyon Road* was selected.
This is what came back from a google search of Slaughterhouse Canyon Road.
Thing was, they still didn't know what the "A" stood for (and apparently didn't think to ask), but for some reason they did know his middle name, and that's what they went with: Clinton Keith Road.
Mr. Keith retired at the age of 68 and that happens to be the off-ramp number too. 
Back then, there was no I-15 freeway anywhere near this area, and though it is indeed a tremendous distinction to have any road named in a person's honor, they couldn't have envisioned that it would eventually be such a big part of a city that didn't even exist at the time. 

I have to wonder though, if everyone knew this fine gentleman by the nickname of Bud, and had never even heard his given name, then why not just go with what they knew? Must be something from past generations that think an unknown name on a birth certificate outranks what a person is known by.
It is what it is, but "Bud Keith Road" would have worked just fine as well. 
Finally, with the aid of PhotoShop, we have the proper recognition that Mr. Keith deserves. 
He logged 47 years on the job, and passed away in 1995, living to be 92 years old. 

There's a local angle to the Clinton Keith story 

Katie Boothby, a resident of Windsong Valley in Wildomar, is married to Cody Boothby, the great grandson of Bud Keith. That would make his mother, Kathi Keith-Boothby, A.C.Keith's granddaughter; she resides in San Bernardino.

Must be something to travel on a road that is named after your great-grandfather on a regular basis like they do.
Kathi Keith-Boothby, Katie & Cody Boothby.
This blog relied on information from the family, a 2013 Press Enterprise article and the story that John Hunneman shared at the ribbon cutting that opened the road extension.
Link to the recent blog about the road extension ceremony

*The Press Enterprise had it as Murrieta Road, but John Henneman had it as Storm House Canyon Road (at least that's what I could discern from the audio recording of his ribbon-cutting speech). I'm going to go with John here... being that this area has been his beat for many, many years. ☺

Correction: an earlier edit of this blog had used "Storm House Canyon Road" because that's what I heard on the recording mentioned above. I went back and listened again and that's still what I heard. However, there is an area called Slaughterhouse Canyon Road that is in the exact spot of Clinton Keith Road (see map above), so I've updated the blog to reflect the new info. If that needs further correction, please let me know.
•                •                •

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Wildomar Rap would like to add Decca's miscalculation to the list of "Classic Blunders" delineated by Vizzini in The Princess Bride. 

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.


  1. Nice story.... Interesting too. Thanks.

  2. The following is what I have for Clinton Keith History from the County of Riverside Transportation Department. Check the link, no longer works. But history is history. Either Bud or his real first name would have been a hoot.
    Adna Clinton Keith was appointed to fill the unexpired term of A.C. Fulmor when he retired from the position of County Surveyor in 1945. Mr. Keith was elected to continue as Surveyor in 1946. The next year the State of California implemented the Collier-Burns Highway Act of 1947. An act to provide for a system of public streets and highways in the State of California and for the financial support thereof. The Act was profound in its impact on the management of roadways by local jurisdictions. Implementation of the Act required substantive changes by the County. Some significant particulars include:
    Local jurisdictions were mandated to create a system of primary roads. Each jurisdiction was required to select the roads on the basis of greatest general importance and it was specified that the mileage of primary roads could not exceed fifty percent of the total mileage of all roads. The Act further required that taxes collected under the Act could only be spent on roads identified in the primary road system.

    The Act also required the appointment of a single "Road Commissioner" for all road districts and raised management of the roads to a county level. Prior to the Act, there were literally five road departments - or one run by each county supervisor. Each member got his slice of road money each year and operated his own department and equipment as he saw fit from a need as well as a political viewpoint.
    In compliance with the Act, the Board of Supervisors gave Mr. Keith the newly created position of Road Commissioner in October 1947, effectively combining the management of survey and roads once again. And in 1948, the County adopted a resolution establishing a 491.59-mile primary road system. The original primary road system has grown through the years to what is now the 2598-mile County Maintained Road System.

    In 1962, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance establishing the Surveyor's position as an appointive position. The Board was concerned that if the Road Commissioner position was appointive and the County Surveyor was elective, they may be forced to have two separate individuals. By making the County Surveyor appointive the Board was able to assure that a single individual held both positions. Mr. Keith continued to hold both positions until his retirement at the end of 1971. "Clinton Keith Road" was named after Mr. Keith in honor of his many years of service.

  3. Wonder if there was actually a slaughter house there way back when???

  4. nice read. wonder how baxter to central came bout


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