Two-Gun Bill & the 15,000-Word Question

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger

Amen boy howdy, are you saddlepals going to be insufferably smart after we finish this Sunday’s trail ride. Got tons of especially cool Santa Clarita historical trivia and at the next cocktail mixer, people will either be rushing toward, or away, from you.

C’mon. If you put that right foot in the port side stirrup, with a little luck, you should see ears attached to a horse. We’ll wait patiently while some of the more directions-challenged yuppies get it right, being careful not to giggle, make unkind remarks or eye contact.

Shall we mosey into the mystic?


Think the copyright ran out n early March of 1849, the Bennett-Arcane Party left the safety (and cold weather) of Wisconsin to venture out to California to find gold. Instead, they found a lot of misery. The wagon train got lost and instead of ending up in gold country, their expedition was trapped in what would later be called Death Valley. In fact, a woman wagoneer who would later settle in Newhall would name the forsaken desert. Upon being rescued by a group of SCV vaqueros, she looked back and said, “Goodbye, death valley.”

On the rocks? n early March of 1871, legendary local bandito Tiburcio Vasquez established one of his many hideouts at a place locals just called “The Rocks.” Years after the road agent’s demise, the place was renamed, “Vasquez Rocks.”

Hope the perp was hanged ne of our first major business enterprises, Campton’s General Store, blew up on March 3, 1882. George Campton was actually born in the West Indies. At 16, he became a successful butcher and grocer and, at the age of 35, migrated to San Francisco. From there, he became the manager of Henry Mayo Newhall’s holdings here in future Santa Clarita. A year later in 1876, George quit and opened his own general store. The guy sure was busy. He was Newhall’s first postmaster, served on the brand-new Newhall School Board and sold insurance (hope he had some on his store…). An arsonist set fire to Campton’s General Store (northwest corner of 8th and Main today) and it ignited gunpowder, which incinerated the place in a matter of minutes. The family escaped with their lives. In 1891, the store blew up again (fire, meet gunpowder!) and Campton rebuilt.

MARCH 1, 1920

Put me down for 1,000 acres. With a view ou probably won’t see a real estate deal like this in modern times. Still, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask your Realtor. Judge John Powell, the same one who shot a state-record 11-foot-long mountain lion, was getting rid of all his land in the SCV. The good judge was offering a 50% off sale on all acreage and lots.

MARCH 1, 1930

Lousy tourists oe Englebracht complained of yet another trespass onto his Saugus farm. Seems some tourists were wandering through, eyeballing the rural splendor, which included a visit to Englebracht’s ranch. After a brief tour, they made a wide U-turn in his potato patch and vegetable garden. “If it isn’t the rabbits or gophers, deer, mules or thieves, it’s something else. Next thing, some tourist will drive his car into my kitchen and put water in their radiator.”

Snorkling, anyone? e had nearly 4 inches of rain fall in a day, causing a flash flood through Placerita Canyon. It also snowed on this date and folks in Honby were graced by a small tornado settling down, tearing up trees and taking away roofs. It was real Old Testament, too. We had epic thunder and lightning storms.

Is that chicken walking kinda funny? .C. Donahue’s hen was recovering nicely. She gave birth to a massive egg, nearly 10 inches around the long way, nearly 8 inches in circumference the short way. It weighed nearly 7 ounces.

Wonder where that memorial went? he Saugus Community Club held a second anniversary remembrance of the great St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928. A memorial statue was erected, made from the concrete of the dam. A tablet containing the names of the nearly 500 people who died in the disaster was forged into the cement edifice.

Pitchess in Bouquet? riginally, the county of Los Angeles had authorized a Bouquet Canyon site for their new minimum-security prison that would be called Wayside (today, Pitchess Detention Center). The tract was supposed to include the Suraco, Rand, Biddison, Guido, Rollett, Scarcella and Haskell ranches. The county eventually condemned the A.M. Dunn dairy farm in Castaic, forcing him to sell. The day after Dunn signed the papers, oil was “discovered” on his property and the county took out millions in royalties. Dunn would later sue, 20 years after the forced deal. He would have won, but missed the statute of limitations by 13 years.

MARCH 1, 1940

That’s my pal Andy all of Fame cowpoke Andy Jauregui was busy putting together one of the largest rodeos ever to take place in the SCV. Part of Jauregui’s show was a wild horse riding contest in which cowboys roped a bronc in the arena, saddled, bridled and rode the beast for time with extra points divvied for survival.

Perhaps some of the Vets could just shoot the intruders? he American Legion declared war on rowdies, both local and out-of-towners. Seems Post 407 kept having these fun dances and young hooligans kept crashing them, starting fights and being overall obnoxious.

A little arcane movie trivia he old Monogram Ranch, today called Melody Ranch, was home to a couple of movie shoots. One was “Rip Van Winkle.” The other was “Tomboy.” They dammed up Placerita Creek to form a small lake for the Tomboy pix.

MARCH 1, 1950

Perhaps the coolest Bill Hart trivia ever  don’t know if this qualifies as a world record, but it’s got to be in the ballpark. During the trial for the estate of William S. Hart, attorneys read a question — a hypothetical question at that — into the court record. The question was 15,000 words in length and took up 72 pages. It took two days for psychologist Dr. Victor Parkin to read into evidence.

MARCH 1, 1960

Perhaps they just swam up from Brazil? f all things, kids playing in the Santa Clara River found a pair of boa constrictors dwelling by the bank. The snakes were measured at 10 and 12 feet. They were dead when the boys found them. Sheriff’s deputies figured some exotic animal rancher just dumped them after they were dead.

MARCH 1, 1970

She’s been cheated … been, mistreated …  young and upcoming singer was one of the headliners at a Boys’ Club concert up in the Mint Canyon Community Building. Admission was a buck. The singer? Linda Ronstadt. Yup. THE Linda Ronstadt. In some people’s minds, almost Mrs. Boston…

MARCH 1, 1980

A tragic ending n old pal of mine was the famous actor, Keith Andes. He starred in several movies and TV series, including “Star Trek,” and shared top billing with Marilyn Monroe. But Andes was most famous for playing “The Man of La Mancha” on Broadway. He ended up living in a little trailer in Castaic and committed suicide in 2005. Poor guy had bladder cancer. He was a lifelong smoker and ended his life at 85.

Just horsing around ernice Kalland, a Saugus postal worker, took top honors in the 50-mile Rancho Caballo race in Redlands. Kalland had plenty of practice. She lived in Agua Dulce and rode her horse to and from work every day.

Thanks, friends. All y’all’s good company, no matter what your loved ones say behind your back. See you next week with another exciting Time Ranger history adventure. Until then —¡Vayan con Dios, amigos! 

John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. You can buy his books and novels on Best you turn this into action and do so right jolly now…

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