HEADLINESTime Ranger & SCV History: Randolph Scott, Cougar Hunts & Giant Asses
Posted on: 02/16/2017 00:00
(By John Boston) You’ll have to excuse me, but I am plumb enthusiastic over our trail ride. I think it’s going to be rather epic and unique.
Next to Buffalo Tom overturning a train in 1928, we’ve got the second worst train robbery in SCV history. That one happened back before World War I. Well. Our rasslin’ in it.
We’ve got an SCV farming lesson brought to us by none other than Julius Caesar and we’ll be riding carefully by to inspect half-Mammoth jackasses, cougar hunts and we’ll be saying howdy to — respectful tip of the hat — Randolph Scott.
I’d say let’s just stampede hell bent for leather through our Santa Clarita time vortex. But let’s just mosey. Even if you don’t fall off, there’s always the risk of losing a really good Stetson in the wrong dimension...
(PHOTO CAPTION: Bill Pine celebrated his birthday in Placerita Canyon this week in 1947. The movie producer was at the Placeritos Ranch shooting his epic Western, “Albuquerque.” The star, Randolph Scott, surprised Pine by walking into the commissary (Melody Ranch used to have a full-service restaurant on the site) with a huge silver tray. Lifting the cover, there was a cake the size of a donut. Scott brought the room to gales of laughter when he quipped: “That’s all the budget would allow.” George “Gabby” Hayes, the man who pulled his own teeth at an early age so he could get crusty old prospector roles was also in the movie, along with Mr. Wolfman Himself, Lon Chaney Jr.)
WAY, WAY BACK WHEN
• My high desert friend and historian Dave Desmond reminded me of an anniversary that comes up soon. On Feb. 19th, 1915, there was a daring holdup of the Southern Pacific Owl train. Seven men boarded the northbound steamer at Saugus.
A few minutes later, two gunmen forced their way into the locomotive and held engineer F. Whyers and fireman T. Harvey at gunpoint. A few miles out of the station, the trainmen were ordered to stop and unhook the mail car. In a scene out of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” four mail clerks refused to open the locked doors. Shots were fired through the glass windows, but the clerks had barricaded themselves inside.
Unable to gain access, either by gunfire, sweet talk or TNT, the gang of seven disappeared into the Saugus shrubbery. When the train arrived in Mojave later, they found several sticks of dynamite that didn’t go off under the steps of the locomotive. The hapless criminals tried using firecrackers as detonators on the train.
Interestingly, two boys who had bummed a ride on a flatcar had been forced to jump off when the train robbers boarded. The boys had played horse shoes with the gang as they waited at the Saugus station and provided a detailed description of the men. Treated like royalty by the railroad, the lads enjoyed big, thick, juicy steaks and lots of pie.
Two other hoboes, after hearing the shots, bailed from the moving train, as did a brakeman, who narrowly missed death, twice. First, one of the gunmen tried to shoot him at point blank range then Harry Feltz nearly killed himself jumping from the Owl.
• They probably had a couple of boxes still left, but for the most part, the entire town of Newhall moved from around Bouquet/Soledad junction over to around where 6th and San Fernando Road is today. That was back on February 15, 1878.
• Smog may not be Los Angeles’s oldest institution, but it’s been around for quite some time. In a September 22, 1868 story in The Alta, a San Francisco newspaper, the writer comments about curious smoky valley. “The atmosphere has been so filled with smoke as to confine the vision to a small circumference.” Actually, Indian oral history used to call the L.A. Basin, “The valley of smoke.”
• On this very day in 1850, California was divided into the original 27 counties. Los Angeles County covered 35,000 square miles — or, about nine times its present gargantuan size. By 1910, the various counties were split and there were 58 counties. I always like to point out that me and Skip Newhall can name all of them.