Bad Guys, Furry Critters & Booze-Proof Newhall

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger
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Yay, hooray, a yippee coyote and three chimpanzee backflips without losing my hat. Good to see all y’all.

We’ve a most interesting trail ride ahead into the back canyons of Santa Clarita history. C’mon. Amongst these several hundred thousand fine steeds, there’s one I picked out just for you. Just whistle.

You do know how to whistle, don’t you?

Leave your cell phones.

The ponies aren’t partial to selfies. Just try to remember the beauty…


Them LeBruns Well. Here we are, Dec. 5, 1890. A Mr. LeBrun was deeded the big San Francisquito Canyon ranch. His nephew Gus would live in infamy for gunning down Newhall constable Ed Brown in 1924 and getting shot, several times, by deputy Jack Pilcher. 

First stage, first stage wreck 
Again, Dec. 5, but this time in 1854, a feisty Phineas Banning drove the first stage coach through the original 30-foot slice of Beale’s Cut. The road wasn’t ready for horses and wagons and Banning had been warned by every teamster in Southern California. Still, he drove the coach down. He crashed and burned big time, but came out of the wreck with a big smile and much enthusiasm.

How Kansas Street got its name 
Kansas Gov. John St. John and investors purchased the old Lyon Station, plus other acreage. Their dream was to start a Prohibitionist community in Newhall — no mean feat when the town was only two blocks long and had four saloons. The idea fell like a lead balloon. In signing the title to buying property, a home or business owner agreed to forfeit their land and property if anyone was caught drinking alcohol on their acreage. That bad business idea was launched on Dec. 3, 1887.

“Happy Birthday to Hart. He married a teen tart …” ack on Dec. 6, 1884, William S. Hart was born in Newburgh, New York. The silent film thespian would become perhaps the most influential Western star in cinema history, even more so than John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.


Happy darn birthday, pops!! y dad, Walt Cieplik, was born on Dec. 2, 1922, back in the distant canyon of Indian Orchard. One of my absolute favorite people and saddlepals and I’m smiling right now looking back at him.

DEC. 1, 1919

Drat. We shoulda taken all our holiday cards back to 1919 to mail them. ere’s something we’ll probably never, ever see again. Fliers were hung at the local post offices, notifying folks that first-class postage would be reduced from 2 cents an ounce to a penny an ounce. 

DEC. 1, 1929

‘Badgers? I don’t got to show you no stinkin’ badgers!’ illis Dyer made a tidy sum, hunting critters for government bounties. Dyer trapped four coyotes, 10 bobcats, nine red foxes, eight gray foxes and three badgers. I just spotted one myself dashing across the dirt road under the train station at Heritage Junction last week so Dyer must have missed one.

How to capture a buffalo “Buffalo” Tom Vernon was arrested 90 years back for his derailing of a train by the present-day Saugus Speedway. For years, Vernon was hailed as a villain for derailing and wrecking the train, then robbing the passengers. We just learned of his motive. It seems that Vernon robbed the train to pay for a woman friend’s “operation” (abortion) in Los Angeles. Early editions of L.A. papers wrongly wrote that the engineer of the Saugus train died after being scalded by escaping steam. Vernon escaped to Wyoming, where he pulled the same stunt, derailing a train and robbing the passengers. He accidentally dropped a note (for the SECOND DARN ROBBERY!!!) saying that he would be staying with a prostitute and that was how Tommy was captured.

Winner, winner chicken dinner! 
Up on the Johnson Ranch in Saugus, the hens were really earning their keep. Digging around in the dirt, they, and one duck, came up with several gold pebbles. That probably put them at the bottom of the list for Sunday supper.

DEC. 1, 1939

Another Sunday. Another idiot hunter story. ohn Mathias was hurrying to catch up with his fellow Elmer Fudds when he jumped over a hedge, stumbled, fell and his rifle went off. The slug hit his hunting buddy, Bob Brown, in the calf. Wonder if he had Bob stuffed and mounted?

“Dude. You mining?” ome locals called it, “Recreational panning.” Others called it, “Dude mining.” Several ranches in the area made a few extra bucks by allowing folks — mostly out of towners — to play in the creeks on their spreads, panning for gold. For a fee, the amateur prospectors would be loaned a gold pan and given a lunch. It helped the economy during the Depression. Over at the Osborn acreage, folks could pull about 75 cents of gold dust out an hour. After sandwich, soda pop and loan of a pan, you could maybe make $3 a day. 

DEC. 1, 1949

Talk about a Christmas road trip 
The Hart High basketball squad made the long voyage to play Lone Pine, up toward Bishop in the snowy Sierras. After beating the Piners, 52-24, the Mighty Indians spent the night in the gym in sleeping bags and cots.

DEC. 1, 1959

Extreme SCV football trivia he very first CIF football game ever played by an SCV team occurred on this date. Hart beat Paso Robles, 34-12. That was back when they didn’t have 512 divisions (just two, really small schools and all the rest) and only league champions played in the playoffs. More trivia. The following week in 1959, Hart became the first local football team to lose a CIF game, getting edged by Pasadena, 12-6. Hart failed to score from the Tiger 6-yard line with time running out. Painful …

DEC. 1, 1969 

If the suit fits … embers of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club roared into Newhall on this date. Purpose? To film a commercial about men’s suits.

Yes. You can fight City, or in this case, County Hall. rthur Provost built his Val Verde home in 1921, before there was running water, electricity, roads or even law in Val Verde. A county building inspector dropped by to condemn the Jamaican-born man’s house. Seems the county wanted his property to build a road and wouldn’t grant him permission to make his home of 48 years county-legal because it would be cheaper to just buy an open lot instead of one with a house on it. Provost motored on the freeways in his Model T Ford to downtown L.A. and did battle with the bureaucrats. He won, getting his permits. 

DEC. 1, 1979

The county government circus continued  little and obscure local government agency had a giant name — The West Los Angeles County Resource Conservation District. Director Marcus Frishman was granted continued probation for petty theft and the entire board was being investigated by an L.A. grand jury for all manner of financial and ethical shenanigans, including buying themselves cars and bicycles from the agency’s bloated coffers.

Tell me, please. It CAN’T be this close to Christmas. Foof. Well. By that familiar glowing light up ahead, that’s our depot to the here-&-now of the 21st century. Thanks for spending time with me, dear saddlepals. See you next Sunday with another exciting Time Ranger adventure? Until then — ¡Vayan con Dios, amigos, y feliz Navidad!

John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. Read his historical tome, “Images of America: The Santa Clarita Valley” on Check out his History of The Mighty Signal series on Saturdays on A1.

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