Top of a May morning to you, o Santa Clarita bunk huggers. C’mon out. I’ve got fresh lattes, herbal teas, coffee, protein drinks, hair of the dog that bit you and donuts waiting. Plus, not to rush you, but with all these thousands of horses standing around, we don’t want the reins to get tangled.

We’ve an interesting trek into yesteryear ahead and doesn’t the syntax of that just stop you? On one hand, we’ve never been, so it would be ahead. On the other, we’re going back in time, so it would be behind.

Deep thoughts. Deep thoughts.

Shall we mosey into legend?


(PHOTO CAPTION: This just might be a world record. Couldn’t tell you. But I’m sure you’ve heard of those 20-mule borax teams? In the early 20th century, muleskinner Pablo Araujo used to guide epic mule teams through Newhall and up to San Francisquito Canyon, carting materials and heavy equipment for the construction of the St. Francis Dam. Araujo would frequently drive teams that had — are you sitting? — 54 mules hitched to just one wagon.)



• Prior to the government of Mexico giving Antonio del Valle most of the Santa Clarita Valley in lieu of back wages in 1839, the Camulos Ranch was owned by a General Moreno. Moreno supposedly owned all the land in an 80-mile diameter centered at Camulos, to the Pacific Ocean and into the San Fernando Valley. The original road, before the Americans built the precursor to 126, used to go behind the Camulos Ranch house, not in front of it as it is today.

• We were attacked by objects from outer space. But it wasn’t until May 24, 1934 when Joe Rudell found a 13.5-pound meteorite. The “rock” was about 4 by 6 inches, very dark and much heavier than any stone of the same size. It also was not affected by a variety of acids poured onto it.

•When the gold rush of 1842 hit this valley, there were soon about 100 miners digging and panning here. A drought reduced that figure to about 50. With the rains of 1843, the number surged again and the average miner was taking home about $2 a day in dust and small nuggets. By the end of 1843, about 2,000 ounces had been removed.

In 1844, another gold camp was founded in San Feliciano Canyon. Jose Salazar, who would soon be the next husband of Dona Jacoba del Valle (she was married to Antonio del Valle, who died in 1841; she inherited half of the Santa Clarita Valley) was rather wealthy himself. He took in about $43,000 in dust in less than two years. The widow del Valle had a way of surrounding herself with powerful men. Her son-in-law, Ignacio, would inherit the other half of the Santa Clarita Valley and he was also the future mayor of Los Angeles. Jacoba’s next hubbie, Jose Salazar, was co-Alcalde of Los Angeles.

(SMALL SIDEBAR: Alcalde originally was a derogatory term, meaning snitch.)

• Prior to 1914, all California license plates were privately made for individual customers.

• And prior to the Big Bang, the Santa Clarita was a highly-compressed point of matter and wasn’t even called the Santa Clarita Valley then. Beat that.


MAY 17th, 1927

• It was one of the first of the blockbuster scifi movies and it was playing on the semi-big screen of Newhall Elementary’s Auditorium. Arthur Conan Doyle’s epic, “The Lost World,” wowed the audiences with its “giant dinosaurs” roaming the white canvas. Wallace Beery and Newhall cowboy Bull Montana co-starred in the flick.

• Literally thousands will graduate from various schools around the SCV. On this date, 20 — count them, 20 — graduated from 8th grade at Newhall Elementary.

• Charles Lindbergh made his famous nonstop flight over the Atlantic to Paris 80 years back. Local angle? Charles sometimes stayed with friends at their Arcadia Street home.


MAY 17th, 1937

• This was the park that never was. Our supervisor, Roger Jessup, okayed a bill that would make a county park out of a 1,200-acre stretch of land in Placerita Canyon. It was first to be a fowl and wildlife reserve, with picnic facilities. Later, it was to be expanded and was to become Placerita Canyon National Park. The area would be fed from water from the Owens River project. It was never built.

• We had our own government pest control office out here, manned by two mighty hunters. To date, they caught and killed 17 rattlers. Joe Kohnle slid down a hill and almost rolled into one.


MAY 17th, 1947

• Judge Art Miller was getting kidded around town. He went for his annual eye exam and found out he had 20-70 vision. A lawyer quipped that Art shouldn’t complain because justice was supposed to be blind.


MAY 17th, 1957

• The Happy Jack Ranch was a summer camp for boys ages 5 to 14 and offered swimming, sports and horseback riding. Today, that spread is called The Master’s College.

• A quartet of inmates almost made good their escape from Wayside Honor Rancho a half century back. The convicts were running to catch a freight train when a pair of local Sheriff’s deputies halted their getaway with a couple of shots in the air.

• Speaking of Wayside (today, Peter Pitches Maximum Security Big House in Castaic), they made a tidy profit every month from the big oil leases on the property. The county took in nearly $70,000 a month in lease payments from Shell Oil.

• The State Highway Commission painted a dismal picture of congestion for the Santa Clarita in decades to come. They even used the word, “Gridlock” to predict high flow more like that in a cramped parking lot.

• Late May rains canceled the local little league grand opening. The fields were just too muddy to play on.


MAY 17th, 1967

• My dopey sister-like substance Les unveiled her model for a monument I still believe is still on the Hart campus today. The senior class of that year donated a giant teepee in what was then the senior quad. Alas, the very people who built and donated the edifice never got a chance to use it. They graduated.

• At first glance, nothing seemed wrong with Wayne Werner and his kid brother wanting to visit their grandmother. The two Highland Park travelers were driving to San Francisco. A Highway Patrolman in Newhall noticed something a little funny about the pair and tried to pull them over. He finally did. In Frazier Park. Wayne was 9. His brother, 6. They had sort of borrowed their father’s car.

• A Canoga Park businessman had rented Tex Williams old nightclub on San Fernando Road and had gotten permission to open the valley’s first “Hippie Night Club,” the Lemon Tree. First protesting the teen dance club was the Rev. Harold Mansfield of the Foursquare Church on Lyons. Harold felt the place would be a haven for “scantily clad persons doing dances.” It never was. The place was usually filled with 99 percent sulking boys and one or two girls. Mansfield objected to the Lemon Tree because of the “obscene gestures” the kids did while dancing. Wonder if Harold is around to witness the bump-&-grind at the local school hop? Another resident predicted that Newhall would no longer be a “nice town” after “undesirable elements” invaded the valley. And so it came to pass. We got invaded by yuppies...

• Harvey Casey’s life ended early. The 42-year-old construction worker was crushed to death when a huge earthmover pressed him against the wall of a cave in the Castaic water project.


MAY 17th, 1977

• A trucker fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into a slower-moving school bus, filled with high school students. On the bright side, no one was seriously hurt and the kids were from Whittier, just passing through.

• We think this is called, “irony.” Signal sports editor Walt Cieplik had to cover the Alcoholic Olympics in the morning at COC. In the evening, he was a celebrity judge at the United States Bartending Championship in Century City. Local legend, Bobby Batugo of Tip’s, wo the event.

• There were a rash of attacks on women 40 years back on the streets of Santa Clarita. An 80-year-old woman had her purse swiped by a youth while she was strolling along a brand new Valencia paseo. Another woman had her purse snatched. A co-ed was assaulted on campus at COC and Reena Gladbach, future wife of Signal publisher Tony Newhall, was robbed at gunpoint after teaching a dance class.

• We surely were a clash of cultures. In Placerita Canyon, at Los Angeles Baptist College, 60 seniors graduated, amidst prayers and hymns. Across the valley a few miles at CalArts, some seniors were accepting diplomas stark-raving nude.


MAY 17th, 1987

• It was a record no one wanted. Just five months into the year, we had our 25th traffic fatality. A man lost control of his small truck and vaulted off Highway 14 near Placerita to his death.

• One of the byproducts of alleged progress was the dreaded homeowners association. More and more complaints were being lodged in court about HOAs becoming fiefdoms, pitting neighbor against neighbor. One of the biggest offenders was the tony Vista Ridge enclave, in which certain residents were singled out in the monthly newsletter, by name, and ordered to fix minor infractions or be forced to move. The HOA president even went so far as to criticize, in print, the parenting abilities of certain residents. Well. The kids did trash the pool area. President Cliff Arrington drew ire from even his peaceful neighbors when he threatened, in print, several neighbors and dared them to sue. “Go ahead. Make our day,” wrote Arrington. One neighbor called the HOA “an in-house Gestapo unit.”

• Another sad story involved our Beale’s Cut. It was almost impossible to hike through the state historic area without avoiding abandoned cars, mattresses, trash and human feces.


Come back and visit next week here under the warming glow of your SCV Beacon. I’ll be waiting with another thrilling trailride into the yesteryears and history of this wonderful Santa Clarita. Until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!

(SCV Historian John Boston also writes The John Boston Report blog for your SCV Beacon. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/ —you’ll be smiling for a week…) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.

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