Santa Clarita Valley (Images of America)
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A trade crossroads dating back to Native American times, Santa Clarita may be relatively new in the story of Los Angeles County's suburban sprawl, but old-timers also recall it as the "Navel of the Universe." A Chinese general once declared the Santa Clarita Valley one of the top 10 military targets on Earth. Located east of the Ventura County line where the valley creates a break in the Angeles National Forest, Santa Clarita has been home to cowboys, movie stars, farmers, and pistol fighters. With a diverse population of 250,000 today, the Santa Clarita Valley still boasts an eclectic heritage. The West's first major oil refinery is located here. The ground was bloodied by at least 21 deaths in one of America's last and greatest range wars. And local lore has maintained that the world's largest grizzly bear, weighing more than a ton, was shot here.
many names. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) As a vision of the future, traffic gridlock hit the SCV as tens of thousands would visit the Newhall-Saugus rodeo. Perhaps the most spectacular event was the 15th annual, held in 1940. John Wayne was on the board of directors. Tom Mix was president. Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, Gary Cooper, Jack Benny, and a host of Hollywood who’s who attended. Mix raced Western star Buck Jones in a chariot race in downtown Newhall. Jones would later die
historian of the SCV. He had a delicious sense of humor, used to be a private eye, and he was an art historian who could draw. He organized the SCV Historical Society and began collecting the stories of the valley. Jerry died in 1996. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) Since starting in the old Lyon bunkhouse in 1876, Newhall Elementary has turned out thousands of students. One was Buzz Barton (also known as Red Lameroux), the biggest child film star in America in the 1920s. In the 1910s, a
editor Blanche Brown would take over as librarian. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) One of the high holy places of eating obligations was Tip’s. Originally, it was the Beacon Café and was located at Castaic Junction. It moved to the top of Lyons Avenue, overlooking I-5, and became famous as home to Bobby Batugo, voted the world’s best bartender for many years. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) There is not much left of the Mitchell family cemetery in Lost Canyon. Vandals and the elements
the state’s first political sex scandal. Aided by Fr. Junipero Serra, Fages’s wife tried to get him recalled for having affairs with Native American maidens. Fages tried to have Serra removed as mission president on charges of barbarous treatment of Native Americans. (Courtesy Jerry Reynolds Collection.) What looks like an alien cow stomach or an upside-down flea is an 1843 Spanish map of Rancho San Francisco. Those appendages show the various canyons: Castaic, San Francisquito (or Bouquet),
grizzlies, as did early stage riders. The bruins would stop traffic by scratching their backs on telegraph poles alongside the road. The beasts thought the humming sound from the wires came from bees. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) From 1910 to 1938, the main road into the valley from the San Fernando side was via the Newhall road tunnel. It’s under present-day Sierra Highway—next to Beale’s Cut. They filled in and cut the current Sierra Highway grade just south of town. Note how much