Take a 13-mile drive from Santa Clarita City Hall, mostly on winding Bouquet Canyon Road, and you get to Big Oaks Lodge.
It’s the site of more than a century of ridiculously rich local history, some of it checkered. For the asking price of $449,000, it can be yours.
“What’s for sale is are the buildings and the business,” said broker Brett Alphin of Aaroe Commercial. Alphin is representing the sellers, who have owned Big Oaks since 2011.
The lodge and its .93-acre lot are in Angeles National Forest, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. Buildings on the sites include the main lodge and three cabins.
It also has a full liquor license, and has for nearly 70 years, since 1949.
Stagecoaches stopped here, as did career criminal Charles Arthur Floyd, better known as “Pretty Boy.” He met his end in Ohio in 1934, the same year the current lodge was finished.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford liked the location so much that they built a cabin nearby.
Of the top boxers who trained here in the 1970’s and 1980’s, two stand out.
Michael Dokes held the World Boxing Association heavyweight title from 1982 to 1983. Bakersfield native and light heavyweight contender Mike Quarry lost his one title shot in 1972.
Pam Aronoff, one of the potential buyers, thinks Big Oaks could work as a live music venue, as it was when she spent time there in the early 1990’s while she was earning an MFA at CalArts.
She stayed in a cabin made of locally quarried Bouquet Canyon stone that included an indoor beehive. “It was truly rustic,” she said.
Having owned a motorcycle (“a Honda, not a Harley”) during her college days in Boston, she found kindred spirits in a “wonderful wacky bunch” of bikers who came by the lodge for burgers every Saturday evening at six.
By the time she got to Big Oaks, she was driving a zebra-striped AMC Gremlin. In it, she gave a ride to young musician who was the friend of a budding filmmaker.
The filmmaker was Steve Hanft, who directed “Kill the Moonlight.” The musician was Beck.
The 1994 film “features a great soundtrack with some good slacker tunes including some from a (pre-famous) Beck, who was in the band “Loser” with the movie’s director,” according to an IMDB.
Aronoff is balancing her fond memories and hopes for what Big Oaks could be with drawbacks that are inherent to the site.
The same twisty road that challenges bikers and driving enthusiasts has proven treacherous and deadly to the unskilled or impaired. A campsite near the property is closed to reduce fire risk in an areas that has multiple wildfires.
Still, Big Oaks has a powerful pull on the hearts of many. It’s next chapter remains to be written.