The Time Ranger | The Camel Driver Betrays Vasquez

The Timer Ranger
Time Ranger

Did all y’all remember to set your watches forward an hour last weekend? No? Then you have to set them forward seven hours as punishment. 

That’ll teach you. 

On the bright side, once we urge our trusty steeds through the spinning Santa Clarita time vortex, all clocks and watches go pretty much haywire anyway, so who cares. Have cake and beer at 3 in the morning. 

Or skip the beer if you’re a minor. 

We’ve a most darn interesting trail ahead into the back canyons of SCV history this morning. There’s guns, stamps, cowboys, robbers, murderers, movie trivia and my favorite local news story: ape attacks. 

There’s also that time when half a kid attended Saugus Elementary. 

C’mon. Let’s mosey… 


DON’T WANT TO STICK MY NECK OUT HERE, BUT . . . — “Pronto” was the last and reportedly only last words of famed womanizing bandito, Tiburcio Vasquez. He was hanged in San Jose on March 19, 1875. His legendary hiding place in Agua Dulce still bears his name — Vasquez Rocks. Vasquez may have been betrayed by a camel driver. Tibby’s alleged friend, Yiorgos Caralambo, aka George Allen, aka Greek George, may have been the man who snitched Vasquez’s whereabouts, which resulted in his capture in Hollywood. Up until his last moments, Vasquez pleaded with his captors to reveal who betrayed him. Years later, a retired lawman pointed the finger at Greek George. From 1857 to 1862, George had worked with the fabled U.S. Camel Corps, which passed through Newhall. Earlier, GG had killed a man in New Mexico territory over a land dispute and paid friends to swear he was dead. Then, George fled to California to work with the camels and later, with Vasquez. Caralambo died in 1913, swearing he had never snitched on Tibby. 

BEE PRODUCTIVE — Col. Thomas Mitchell was famous as one of our original pioneers. He had a lush spread in modern-day Sand Canyon and was master of many trades. Few realize that Mitchell made a tidy income from beekeeping. He sold about 40 tons of honey a year to merchants in Los Angeles. 

ADOBE AND NOT THE PHOTOSHOP — The original Sulphur Springs School was built on the Mitchell Ranch, from the adobe bricks of the original Mitchell Adobe, built in 1860. It was up to debate whether the original cabin had dissolved, but Mitchell inspected some of the bricks and used them to build the original school house, about 40 feet away from the original cabin. The one-room school stayed that way until about 1940, when they added a second room. 

MARCH 20, 1921  

IF NOT THE DEATH PENALTY, THEN LIFE BEHIND BARS AND WE DON’T MEAN SOAP — Sometimes, you just wince going back and reading back volumes of this paper. A century ago, right on the front page, the entire left column was a series of alleged jokes. They would be awful in Neanderthal times. Exhibit A of many: Man A: “He is going to cook up some kind of story by way of excuse.” Man B: “Then he is going to get himself in a stew.” Hope no readers were injured… 

WE AIN’T LION — W. Sellmer was lucky to be alive. The game warden was mauled by a big mountain lion but escaped with a few superficial scratches and a uniform ripped to shreds. He got off two shots, which he claimed (of course) hit the puma. But the cougar bounded off into the brush. 

GOTTA GET THORNTON ON THE WESTERN WALK OF STARS — We’ve oft sang the praises of the SCV’s first — and real — cowboy poet, Thornton Doelle. He started the first local theater group, was editor of The Signal, forest ranger, lion hunter, actor, impresario, lawman involved in shootouts and bringing in bank robbers, and, Thornton started the SCV’s first stamp club. Doelle collected rare stamps and was president of the local Golden Stamp Co. of Saugus. He founded the group on this date. 

MARCH 20, 1931 

OHHHHH, SHOOT! — The newly formed Newhall Gun Club was bursting with members. On this date, the local sports organization became part of the National Rifle Association. First president of the NGC was Roy Wilkinson.  

YUP. WE’RE KINDA NUTS — We had a little snow in the surrounding mountains, which caused Signal Editor A.B. “Dad” Thatcher to pontificate on one of his “Americanisms:” “… coming to California to keep out of the snow and then driving for an hour up to the mountains to go play in it…” 

ANDY OF NEWHALLBERY — Future Hall of Fame cowboy Andy Jauregui brought in more honors. He was named Team Roper of the Year up at the big Salinas rodeo and just came back home to his Placerita ranch after being the stunt double for Richard Dix in the classic Western, “Cimarron.” The movie was about Oklahoma becoming a state and its land rush scene is still amazing today. It used 5,000 extras, 56 cameramen, six still photographers and, of course, one Andy Jauregui. It also had a staggering $1.4 million budget. Get this. It was the first picture to be nominated for six Academy Awards and was one of only two films ever to receive nominations in EVERY CATEGORY. Cimarron won three Oscars, including Best Picture. I think my pal Andy should have gotten at least part of Richard Dix’s Oscar for Best Actor. 

MARCH 201941 

HALF A KID? — Saugus Elementary shattered their attendance record with 101.5 students. Principal Russ Johnson was quick to point out that the “half” reflected a half-day attendance for one student, not a child from the torso up or down. 

NOT THE GREATEST JOB IN 1941 NEWHALL — With all the record rain, construction was more than iffy on the new American Theater. Of all the trades, the plasterers had the toughest time. During a break between storms, they were able to work for a week. It wasn’t easy, either, trying to get the Bonelli Stadium rebuilt. They were putting up 20,000 new bleachers for an expected April crowd of 30,000 for our world-famous rodeo. Much of the rodeo grounds had been destroyed by record rains and flooding. 

LOVE MOVIE NUMBERS? — In 1940, there were approximately 12,000 people who visited Melody Ranch, the historic Placerita film studio. About 7,000 were in the film business, the other 5,000 were visitors (but that also meant delivery people). Thirty different film companies shot movies there in 1940. Of course, just 12 locals were involved in production and eight worked there in maintenance.  

MARCH 201951 

A LITTLE SIGNAL/POST OFFICE TRIVIA — For 30 years, The Mighty Signal sat on present-day Main Street. It moved in 1951. Why? We were forced out. Seems the Newhall Post Office was bursting its britches and needed a bigger space. And, they paid more rent money. Also? The Signal was growing, too, and needed room for modern presses. The P.O. took over our old digs and we moved over to the redwood buildings at 6th Street that are still there today. 

WITH THE ONLY BUNNIES BEING ON THE HILLSIDES — Easter was a big event in Santa Clarita. Several churches held sunrise services atop local mountains and hills Easter morning. Attendees totaled more than a few thousand and all had to get up about 3 a.m. and earlier to make sunrise. 

TO THE BIG ROUND-UP IN THE SKY — Frank Jauregui died this week. He was just 82. Frank left six sons, 29 grandkids and 15 great-grandchildren. One of his sons was Newhall’s hall of fame cowboy, Andy Jauregui. 

MARCH 201961 

GOIN’ APE — Dick Philbert, who ran the feed and grain store up Saugus way, kept a pet monkey in the shop who got out of his cage and trashed the place. The tiny simian threw around all the cash and receipts and tore into everything from the goldfish tanks to food bags. The ape even swallowed a bottle of aspirin. Signal Editor Fred Trueblood II noted: “It is nice to know that monkeys are still the kwaziest of people…” 

GOIN’ NUTS — Someone broke into a local hardware emporium and stole one ton (2,000 pounds) of nuts and bolts. 

A LONG NAP — Local deputies were suspicious when they passed by a 1952 Olds on the side of the road with two feet draped over the front seat. Robert Long was taking a nap in the back seat. When asked to produce a driver’s license, Long handed them one, with his picture clumsily taped over the original owner’s. And, the Oldsmobile was stolen. 

HARD TO KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE AT THE SERVICE — An elder old-timer passed. Her name? Mrs. Cherry Farmer. 

MARCH 201971 

YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE — OK. Here’s another mini-headline for this one: “WITH A MIGHTY LEAP…” Folks were wondering how many IQ points were being shared by the Regional Planning Commission and developers of the Sky Blue Mesa tract. Seems the go-ahead was given to build 1,100 homes — with only one access road. Canyon Countryites were quick to point out last summer’s big brush fire where there wasn’t enough room to get a fire truck up the two-lane road. A Signal editorial called the epic screw-up by the county: “…an addle-pated and careless attitude.” You think? 

NOT WHAT YOU’D CALL A PERK — Remember last week? We chatted about Chester Furgeson, the education consultant who hired a hit man to kill both of his clients, Hart super Dave Baker and Dr. Thomas Goodman? The good doctor resigned as superintendent of the Torrance High School District. Having consultants hire murderers to literally slit your throat was not in the job description. 

A QUESTION MOST SAD — A Signal editorial pointed out that even most grizzled newsmen couldn’t find Vietnam on a map and certainly not the average citizen. Yet, there we were, at war. 

BYE BYE CHOO-CHOOS — Southern Pacific announced they were cancelling the twice-daily passenger trains that made stops at the Saugus Station. It would also be the cause for the future closing and near demolition of the Saugus Train Depot. 

AND LA MESA IS BORN — The Hart trustees voted unanimously to build La Mesa Junior High. It was originally supposed to be constructed at the corner of Sand and Soledad canyons. 

MARCH 201981 

PERHAPS A LITTLE MORE THAN GROUNDING AND A LECTURE? — The trial of Hart High student Tracy Lincoln, 14, continued. Three times, Lincoln attempted to murder his parents. Besides two failed shooting attempts, Lincoln placed a pan of drain cleaner and water under their bed.  

BRRRR! COLD AT THE CREDIT UNION — Members of Federal Thatcher Employees Credit Union had a rude awakening. All their funds were frozen. The culprit? A shaky economy and a number of bad loans. Employees at Thatcher Glass had to fill out a form 60 days in advance to withdraw “significant” funds. Or, a few hundred bucks. 

STAMPING GROUNDS — Cost of mailing a first-class letter went up from 15 cents to 18 cents this week 40 years back. It’s 55 cents today. 

SPEED TRAP — Placerita Canyon used to go all the way through from Railroad to Sierra Highway. Jackasses used to use it as a high-speed shortcut through the rustic neighborhood. The CHP put at least a slight damper on the habit, citing 61 lead-footers in a span of six hours. 

I surely appreciate the company dear saddlepals and saddlepalettes. It’s been a veritable Christmas treat. In March. See you back here at The Mighty Signal hitching post in seven and until then, big tip of the O’Farrell and a hearty — vayan con Dios amigos!  

Boston has launched his own publishing house, John Boston Books. The first is a three-volume set is “Ghosts, Ghouls, Myths & Monsters — The Most Haunted Town in America.” That’d be us. In the meantime, you can buy Boston’s “Melancholy Samurai,” “Naked Came the Sasquatch” and other of his books at If you liked the book, wouldn’t mind at all if you left a kind 5-star review. 

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