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C’mon. Hop up in that saddle and let’s go mosey into simpler times...

 

(PHOTO CAPTION: This week in 1987, the larger-than-life director, John Huston, was in town, filming a movie in a Rye Canyon warehouse. Huston was in his decline and was in a wheelchair and had to breathe through an oxygen mask. Huston had looked into renting the home of carpet mogul Bill Wicall, but instead decided to commute to his Beverly Hills apartment. Huston had another distant connection with the SCV. When Signal publisher and San Francisco Chronicle editor Scott Newhall staged a camel race in Virginia City years earlier, it was Huston who won the race. It was his first time up on a camel, too.)

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN

• Happy birthday to my pal and mentor, Scott Newhall. The firebrand editor/publisher was born on Jan. 20, 1914, in San Francisco.

• We’ve long been home to a rich mining history. But one of the most unusual items “mined” in the valley was Joshua trees. The Atlantic and Pacific Fibre Company of London was run by Los Angeles attorney J.A. Graves. He acquired thousands of acres in the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. Under Graves’ order, they mowed down thousands of the California trees to make — sorry — newspulp. A crew of Chinese laborers worked to cut the trees into two-foot lengths and then hauled them to a plant in Ravenna (a 19th century thriving community of about 1,000 souls located between Acton and Agua Dulce). The Joshuas were also called “Monkey Trees” then because monkeys would have trouble climbing them. I know. You’d think they’d call them Anti-Monkey Trees. The big flood of 1886 wiped out the Ravenna factory.

• It’s still open for business today. Back on Jan. 18, 1899, Martin and Richard Wood purchased the old Tolefree’s Eating House. They renamed it, “The Saugus Cafe.”

• He was called a “dried up withered old prune” by a competitor. But Antonio del Valle was a happy camper. On Jan. 22, the governor of Alta California (we were the property of Mexico back then) deeded Tony the entire Santa Clarita Valley in exchange for some back wages. Nice settlement.

Read more here: John Boston’s Time Ranger & SCV History: John Huston, Monkey Trees, Fat Jones & The New Saugus Cafe