Journey along the tracks with “Southland”

The Mogul Engine 1629, one of the Historical Society's prize acquisitions, donated by Gene Autry in 1989. Ryan Painter/For The Signal.

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society is scheduled Saturday to host a presentation about railroading across Southern California, coinciding with the release of a photography book authored by two of its members.

The event is scheduled 2 p.m. at the Saugus Train Station adjacent to William S. Hart Park.

“Southland: Southern California Railroading in the Golden Age of Kodachrome” is a compilation of photographs taken by Tom Gildersleeve, Gordon Glattenberg and the late William “Hank” Mills. Between the 1950s and 1970s, they traveled across Southern California following their initial meeting at a railroad enthusiast convention in Denver. The book features several photos never before published, with six chapters and a total of 345 images taken between Bakersfield and the Mexican border.

Mills died in 1980.

“We didn’t have a feeling that we were recording history,” Glattenberg said. “This was an excuse to go out to places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to. It was just a fun hobby, and it was much later that we realized we were recording history.”

The major draw with taking their photos and later publishing a book was showing how locations across the region have changed in the last half-century, he said. The quality of photos changed even as trolleys and orange groves transitioned into freeways and diesel locomotives. Switching from monochrome to Kodachrome, their photos brought color to their subjects and landscapes.

These photos include how Santa Clarita evolved over the decades.

“There’s umpteen stories like that in the SCV,” said Glattenberg.

Free to the public, guests will watch a film of their photos with music playing over it, but with no narration. The two photographers will be present and “chip in with descriptions,” Glattenberg said. His hope is that people walk away from the presentation knowing more about how the railroads changed Southern California.

For more information, call 661-254-1275 or go to

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