By Carol Rock
For the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society
School tours to the Santa Clarita History Center returned last week, when 100 fourth graders from Emerson Elementary School in Burbank took the Metrolink to Newhall for a visit.
Retired teacher and Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society board member Barbara Martinelli made the arrangements for the first post-COVID tour and, with fellow board member Jim Ventress, the retired executive director of the SCV Boys and Girls Club, met the students as they disembarked at the Jan Heidt Metrolink station.
Four motor units from the SCV Sheriff’s Station closed Railroad Avenue for about five minutes so all the students and their chaperones could make it safely across and the group walked the short distance to the History Center. With most of the buildings at the center closed to the public as they undergo restoration, Martinelli took a challenging situation and made it work.
“Volunteers helped us get ready. Gus Horanberg went inside the adobe schoolhouse and cleaned everything up, especially the windows so the kids could see in,” Martinelli said. “And Mike Jarel, who knows everything about our train, got the train and caboose ready for their visit.”
Along with the adobe, students visited Callahan’s Red Schoolhouse and Ramona Chapel in the center’s village area, talking about the structures and what they meant to their communities from the outside.
Getting to climb aboard the 123-year old Mogul steam engine was definitely the high point for most of the kids. Every student took the opportunity to ring the train bell while passing through the engineer’s cabin en route to a tour of the caboose.
Martinelli said that even though they weren’t able to take kids inside the buildings, the students went away a bit wiser about how things were 100 years ago.