You know, I had to playfully scold my dad to dress warm enough. Glancing over at the smiling gent on the brown and white paint, I can see he got the memo.
We are headed in for some cold-&-then-some vistas on this morning’s trail ride through SCV history. Happy darn first trail ride of this 2020 new year. For you few newcomers on our trek into the SCV mystic, there should be a saddlehorn and a horse’s head directly in front. If you’re looking at a saddlehorn and a horse’s patootie, then you’re either Ashley Schumow showing off or you’re going to need to do a 180 (while carefully leaving the horse in its present position …)
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
Early campers ol. John C. Fremont and his men camped out at Rancho San Francisco on Jan. 10, 1847. Because U.S. history isn’t necessarily important in today’s education, John C. was a California senator and the first Republican candidate for president (he lost). Johnny C. was also court-martialed and stripped of duty after a big conflict with the military governor of California. He had an up-and-down career Nixon would have admired. Abraham Lincoln stripped him of command during the Civil War and later refused to appoint him U.S. surveyor general because, in Abe’s words, “…he tended to become master of all he surveys,” meaning that Fremont wasn’t shy about trying to make a fortune for himself off the public dole. Read up on the guy. Tres interesting…
Oil be seeing you wo pistol fighters and entrepreneur/inventor Henry Wiley began drilling California’s first oil well in Pico Canyon on Jan. 8, 1869. The two gunmen were Sanford Lyon and William Jenkins. This was the first known oil well dug in this valley and the beginning of the first commercial oil well in California.
JAN. 5, 1920
Interesting juxtapositioning o remember. This was written a century ago. Anti-Japanese sentiment was widespread across America, especially in California and certainly in the Santa Clarita Valley. Signal Editor Ed Brown wrote, in this op/ed piece: “Let every true American paper come forth with something about the Jap situation. Let us send every Jap who is not Americanized, back to his native land. We can starve them out so they will want to go of their own accord. If they have no place to sell their wares, they can’t live. Let us try it for a short time and see what the difference will be. The Turks should also be included.” The Turks? I’m guessing the staff of a century back didn’t see the irony. Right next to the editorial, The Signal ran a poem about tolerance and forgiveness.
JAN. 5, 1930
Weren’t we just talking about Johnny C? itizens passed around a petition to rename the main route through Newhall up to Gorman. Instead of the half-dozen-plus names the road took on (San Fernando Road, Spruce Street, San Francisquito Canyon, Ridge Route, etc.), locals wanted to call the highway, Fremont Boulevard, after the rapscallion bar-fighter, John C. Fremont.
Mud just doesn’t sound as romantic .G. Johnson built a house on his Saugus mountaintop property. The project garnered much gossip in town. It was made of mud, or, as they call it in New Mexico — adobe.
JAN. 5, 1940
Long before there was the Internet, the Newhall Phone Co. was providing the latest information. All you had to do was crank your phone, lift the receiver and say the magic words, “Information, please …” On Jan. 1, 1940, the local operators would give out, for free, telephone numbers, the time, the weather report, road conditions, movie times and titles and what time the school bus leaves. This new service idea was launched only in Newhall and LaBrea. You’re right. It didn’t last.
JAN. 5, 1950
The SCV’s trial of at least the half-century ctually, it still may be. All the legal shenanigans and posturing for the estate of silent screen superstar William S. Hart lasted nearly 10 years. On this date, lawyers for Hart’s son, Bill Jr., unsuccessfully attempted to bring his mother, Winifred Westover, into the case. Their grounds were that Hart’s sister, Mary, had used undue influence to keep Bill Jr. out of his father’s will. The courts would eventually uphold the movie star’s wishes and his massive holdings and ranch would eventually be left to the county.
I’m dreamin’ … of a white … post-Christmas t snowed on this date. Not just up in the canyon hills, but in downtown Newhall. The snow came after the fifth major storm in a row. The icy roads also caused several accidents.
JAN. 5, 1960
Ain’t kidding. Might be the coldest since the Ice Age remember years ago local thermometers dipped down to a CRIPES BOY HOWDY IT’S COLD 8 degrees. But 60 years back, the mercury dipped down to 6 degrees. The normally hearty Agua Dulce Trailblazers cancelled their ride and decided to stay indoors. (If any of you older saddlepals have any stories about it getting colder here than 6, send an email. And please. No wooly mammoth or “growing frozen peas” stories.)
Lots of death in the SCV he CHP nabbed two Palmdale murder suspects. A plane crashed in Castaic, killing pilot and passenger. Another pair died when their car rammed into the back of a truck. And an elderly Newhall carpenter died of a heart attack.
JAN. 5, 1970
Another football hero nother local football star made the headlines. Former Hart quarterback Joe Kapp led his Minnesota Vikings to a 27-7 trouncing of Cleveland to make it into Super Bowl IV. Alas, Joe and the Vikes lost. Funny thing? Joe was a BASKETBALL star at Hart…
It’s not unstable ground. Think of it as ‘dancing to the orchestra of the cosmos’ olks in Placerita Hills and Friendly Valley had some big complaints. The ground was slipping underneath several homes. Ceilings started cracking apart and walls were being slowly torn from their floorings.
Brrrrr, Part III eems like this cold weather falls into 10-year patterns. On this date, the temperature dipped to the teens. Hart Park had a freezing rain that turned their flora into an ice portrait. I’m placing a small bet that we’ll have snow locally at lower elevations in 2020 …
JAN. 5, 1980
The world’s most stubborn gold miner his is absolutely amazing. Ken Grossman was found guilty of gold mining on this date. Grossman had been cited by Placerita Canyon Nature Center director Frank Hovore for digging the heck out of the park, searching for gold. He had a pretty elaborate sluice box operation going and was found guilty of trespassing and defacing public property. Grossman fought the ticket, saying his civil rights had been violated. Feeling that Grossman wasn’t getting the idea, Newhall judge Jack Clark said, “It appears you need a big club to drive home this message,” said Clark. “Fortunately, I have such a club.” While Grossman had just taken just 1 ounce of gold, Clark wanted to send a message to his other prospecting friends who were digging up the state park. He sentenced Grossman to five days in jail, two years’ probation and the warning never to return to Placerita again. Grossman did. Twice. Got thrown in the pokey, again, too…
Isn’t this something? We’re writing out another year — 2020. Seems like there should be flying saucers and instant coffee. Thanks so much for the company, Santa Clarita saddlepals. See you in seven with another exciting Time Ranger history adventure. Until then —¡vayan con Dios, amigos! May you become the man or woman you’re supposed to be…
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 Amazon.com.