When we almost became Ventura County

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger
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Top of a beautiful Santa Clarita Sunday morn. Nice to see you friends, neighbors, saddlepals and saddlepal-ettes. Time to time travel.

We’ve a most interesting trek in front of us (and speaking of, make sure you’re looking at a saddlehorn directly in front of you and not a swishing horse’s tail).

There’s hostile squirrels, SCV mini-pandemics and, among other things, a state law to outlaw Hispanics.

How would humans make it through a day without pointing fingers and proclamations?

C’mon. Let’s all see something beautiful, laugh a lot and mosey into the mystic together …


You’re gonna need more than one umbrella orrential rains in January and February of 1862 did a pretty good job of wrecking the brand-new Beale’s Cut. L.A. County and Gen. Edward Fitzgerald Beale were building the major north-south road to link Los Angeles and Central California. The walls of the 90-foot cut were reinforced with concrete back then.

FEB. 9, 1920

Dear me and cripes, I’d kill to have the t-shirt or feedlot cap ere’s something to put on your resume. We were a member of the Squirrel Control Association, a spin-off of the state Horticultural Department. In the previous year of 1919, we spread 6.5 tons of poison grain around 184,000 acres of the extended Santa Clarita Valley, which back then included going all the way up to Fort Tejon. Some 1,200 men were employed to spread the poison. There’s a CNN joke in there, but we’re going to be a gentleman and walk around it…

Flu to  you too ife certainly goes in cycles. The world is currently terrorized by a giant coronavirus. A century back, the country and the Santa Clarita was hit by a big influenza outbreak. According to county health records, approximately 0.4% of the SCV’s population was stricken. That worked out to two people —Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Hodgell.

Happy Birthday, mighty legionnaires his week one whole century ago, our local chapter of the American Legion was formed.

FEB. 9, 1930

Don’t think my pal Ernie Villegas would talk to me if I voted for this one n the ballot for the California election was something called the Mexican Exclusion Act. The authors felt Mexican nationals were taking the jobs of Americans, especially in the agricultural fields. For years, there were stories about lawmen in neighboring Santa Paula and Fillmore rounding up anyone who looked Mexican, putting them in trucks and dumping them across the border. Many a long-time citizen had a long hike back because of this jingoism.

FEB. 14, 1939

One hot school n Valentine’s Day, Newhall Elementary School burned to the ground for the third time in history.

FEB. 9, 1940

Great name for a bad but angry garage band  “deranged youth” was killed near the Baker Ranch. He had escaped from a mental institution after complaining that rats were eating his brain. He had walked from L.A. to Saugus and was hit by a truck. He was found dead on the road with both hands in his pockets.

FEB. 9, 1950

Came this close to being Ventura 
Supervisors in Ventura County met with locals to discuss the possibility of annexing the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys into Ventura County. Locals were enraged at the corruption on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the plans to turn both valleys into giant hog ranches where ALL of L.A.’s and the San Fernando Valley’s garbage would be dumped. Local citizens were also outraged that the city of Los Angeles already dumped thousands of their felons here. The move, obviously, never happened. Wonder how development would have turned out if Ventura, instead of Los Angeles County, was calling the shots?

Court gets ugly hink today’s impeachment circus is raucous? At stake was the multi-million-dollar estate of the late silent movie star, William S. Hart. Johnny Imperial, one-time foreman of the Horseshoe Ranch, testified that he had seen Hart and his sister, Mary, unclothed and in a compromising position. Two lawyers for Bill Hart Jr. — who was contesting his father’s will that left him without a belt buckle — quit the case, privately citing their disgust for the sleazy direction the trial had taken.

FEB. 9, 1960

Makeup saves the day  tube of lipstick may have saved the life of Mojave waitress, Eunice LaRue. She was kidnapped by Jack Grant. When they stopped for gas up by the old Ron Dee Cafe near the Vincent Station in Canyon Country, Eunice was allowed to use the ladies’ room. She scrawled, “HELP! CALL POLICE!” on the bathroom mirror and left Grant’s license number, too. Grant was soon arrested and LaRue lived to serve another burger.

FEB. 9, 1970

Surprise. You’re fired. ne of the biggest shocks in William S. Hart Union High School District history occurred on this date. In a surprise move, the five-member board asked for the resignation of their popular superintendent, Collins T. Haan. The board had called a surprise executive meeting, where they had kept Haan waiting outside for over an hour. Then, board president Curtis Huntsinger asked for Haan’s resignation. No public reason was given (all five members refused to speak with the press), but later it was learned that Haan had refused to fire Canyon High Principal Don Jerry. Haan refused to resign. Only E.J. Agajanian supported Haan, who was subjected to a four-hour verbal tirade by the board members. In a later meeting, more than 400 people attended. Huntsinger moved to remove all media and people from the meeting, then deleted the Haan item from the agenda. Huntsinger further told members of the media that they could not record the meeting. State educational agencies and the local teachers’ union tried to mediate. It later came out that Huntsinger was upset with Jerry because kids at Canyon were sneaking off campus and smoking on campus. Huntsinger also objected to the students protesting the Vietnam War. Huntsinger said the board was upset with Haan for implementing a system of no grades without informing them, along with several other policies.

FEB. 9, 1971

Did the earth move for you, too? e had that big 6.6 earthquake here. Some call it the Sylmar Quake. We called it the Newhall Quake. It hit at 5:59 a.m. and the most famous memory of it was a car falling head first into a sinkhole near Hart Park.

FEB. 9, 1980

Shoulda fried the vampire n this date, a jury found Vampire Van killer Ronald Doyle Wilburn guilty of the murder, dismemberment and partial eating of hitchhiker Mary Ann Linco. He escaped the death penalty on a technicality.

Green crooks hat little government with the big long name — The West Los Angeles County Resource Conservation District — made the headlines again. The WLACRCD was famous for its oddball collection of board directors (a mental patient, a thief, and one fellow who brought beer to the meetings and sipped it out of a paper bag) and shenanigans (hiring interior decorators to spruce up their offices; buying cars and bicycles for personal use). The latest prank was when one board member started to resign, then didn’t, then got into a fight with another member who tried to wrestle his keys from him. Ahhhh, the people we elect to office …

Darn that was fun. Thanks so much for the company, dear saddlepals. See you all 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 Amazon.com. Best you do…

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