“The idea is not to live forever, but to create something that will.” — Andy Warhol
This quote was read to us at the first City Council meeting in September by one of the dozens of local leaders and community members who came out to support saving SCVHistory.com. This website was created in 1996 by local historian Leon Worden. Since that time, it has grown to house nearly 100,000 archival items in various digital formats. When you log on, you can read the stories of local residents who lived through such monumental events as the St. Francis Dam Disaster, the earliest gold discovery in California, the launch of the first commercial oil production in Mentryville and the beginning of the film industry with silent movie star William S. Hart.
The amazing collection of history that lives on this website was in danger of being lost forever. The website utilizes an outdated programming language that existed in the early years of the internet but is no longer supported today. Knowing how crucial it is to preserve our city’s history, I was proud to lead the charge to save this website. As I presented the agenda item to my fellow council members, I referenced the enduring true-life example of the Rosetta Stone.
The Rosetta Stone was created in 196 B.C. by a group of Egyptian clergy and rulers. Those leaders compiled a decree written in three styles of writing — ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic script and ancient Greek. The stone was eventually lost, and the use of these languages faded around the 4th century. This meant that all of the discoveries that were made in Egypt many centuries later could not be read. Without a key, they could not be decoded. It wasn’t until the Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 that a tool was available to decode and understand these many artifacts and writings from such a monumental part of our world’s history.
I reflect on this story because this is similar to the challenge we are facing with SCVHistory.com. Without taking necessary action to save the information on this website, we will lose it and will not have a “Rosetta Stone” to decode it.
What happened at that meeting is as historic as the website itself. It is the people of our community coming together in solidarity to support saving their stories and the stories that shaped the wonderful community of Santa Clarita. I am proud to have advocated for this agenda item, which your City Council approved. SCVHistory.com will be saved and turned over to the city of Santa Clarita for future generations to enjoy through our library system.
I encourage all of you to learn the history of our city through SCVHistory.com. I also encourage you to be part of this year’s State of the City event as we look back on 35 years of cityhood. This year’s event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m. at the Canyon Country Community Center. Guests to the event will be treated to speeches from the City Council, videos highlighting the year’s accomplishments, a commemorative gift and light refreshments. Tickets are available for $35 for individuals and $400 for a table of 10. Residents’ no-cost option is to view the event live on the city’s Facebook page or on SCVTV channel 20.
This event will celebrate how far our city has come over the last three and a half decades and highlight the people and events that have shaped Santa Clarita. It is vitally important to preserve and protect our community history so we know where we came from and how it shaped who we are now. I look forward to sharing more at the State of the City. For more information, please visit santa-clarita.com.
Mayor Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].