Jennifer O’Shea: Santa Clarita native reviews city’s Newhall Walking Tour app


Jennifer O’Shea

for The Signal

Saugus Cafe offered pie in the Saugus Train Station long before you moved into your townhouse in Valencia, and William S. Hart made blockbuster Westerns decades before “Westworld” started filming at Melody Ranch.

While Santa Clarita’s history is as rich as your neighbor with a weekend Lamborghini, you may not know that there’s an app encouraging residents and visitors to the SCV to learn more about what filled the valley before a Starbucks invaded every corner.

Santa Clarita’s Technology Services Department created the original app in-house, according to Evan Thomason, economic development associate for the city of Santa Clarita.

The Newhall Walking Tour app is currently available to download for free in your smart phone’s app store. It is a starting point for those who have the desire to learn and see more about the Newhall area. Users are provided a menu with several categories to let them choose where they want to go and what they want to learn.

Since the original app’s creation in 2015, they have released an updated version, which is more accessible to Android users than iOS users at the moment. Thomason said Apple has changed standards for apps that they choose to host for iOS.

“That’s something we hope to remedy soon,” Thomason said. “It’s just not as functional as in its last form.”

Even so, the app still lists points of interest, addresses and connections to a map to see how close you are and the best way to get there.

History enthusiasts should click on “Locations of Interest” to see a list of historical buildings, mostly in the Heritage Junction area, where pioneers lived and the community established law and order.

For the film connoisseur, “Filming Locations” points out the many buildings, restaurants and parking lots in Old Town Newhall where television shows and movies have been filmed.

“The last update finished about two months ago. We wanted to update the filming information,” said Thomason. “Our hope is to do that on an annual basis.”

If sitting in traffic to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame isn’t how you want to spend your afternoon, the app fills you in on another famous walk, the Walk of Western Stars that allows you to read up on the background of all the inductees as you walk along the sidewalk of stars.

The weather has finally dipped below 100 degrees, so now is an opportune time to take a walk. But if you rely solely on the app, it’s hard to know where to start being that no suggestions are offered.

“It’s not as much as a guided tour; there is a map component to show closest points of interest,” said Thomason. “That could be something down the road.”

However, some people do enjoy wandering around and choosing which places are the most appealing to visit. Thomason said that all sites on the app exist in about a mile-and-a-half radius, which is definitely walking distance for most visitors.

“You have to be on the ground and find out what piques your interest and then go that way,” he said.

As of now, walking around Old Town Newhall is a fun and healthy way to spend a few hours on a weekend, do a little up front work by looking at the Old Town Newhall website and plan on stopping into the Saugus Train Station to chat with Historical Society volunteers for a few minutes. Couple that with the Walking Tour app and a warm drink and you’ve found a unique way to spend a fall day with your family, a date or maybe on your own.

“It’s an ongoing project,” Thomason said. “We’re hoping people upload it and help spread the word.”


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