Santa Clarita Valley (Images of America)
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A trade crossroads dating back to Native American times, Santa Clarita may be relatively new in the story of Los Angeles County's suburban sprawl, but old-timers also recall it as the "Navel of the Universe." A Chinese general once declared the Santa Clarita Valley one of the top 10 military targets on Earth. Located east of the Ventura County line where the valley creates a break in the Angeles National Forest, Santa Clarita has been home to cowboys, movie stars, farmers, and pistol fighters. With a diverse population of 250,000 today, the Santa Clarita Valley still boasts an eclectic heritage. The West's first major oil refinery is located here. The ground was bloodied by at least 21 deaths in one of America's last and greatest range wars. And local lore has maintained that the world's largest grizzly bear, weighing more than a ton, was shot here.
attracting many. The last rodeo staged in the SCV was back in the 1980s. Earlier, Wild West re-enactors accidentally used live ammo and shot five audience members. On the bright side, they were from out of town. (Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) While there are hardly any working ranches or farms in the valley today, the city of Santa Clarita keeps its Western heritage alive with one of the planet’s largest events of its kind: the Cowboy Fest. The city also now hosts the Western Walk of Stars,
(Courtesy SCV Historical Society.) The Saugus Café is Los Angeles County’s oldest continually operating eatery. Except for a remodeling and closure during World War II (due to food shortages), it has been open 24 hours for more than a century. Founded in 1887 inside the Saugus Train Station, it moved across the street in 1905 to its present location. When the St. Francis Dam burst in 1928, the owners were without power. They used hot water from a locomotive to make coffee for exhausted rescue
Fustero and his family are seen in the image below. (Both courtesy SCV Historical Society.) Much of what is pieced together about the Tataviam comes courtesy of teenage brothers McCoy and Everett Pyle. Near the Chiquita Canyon landfill today, they found a cave in 1884 stuffed with what was called one of the most significant caches of Native American artifacts. It is called Bower’s Cave after Dr. Bowers, who bought the cache from the boys. The hundreds of items currently are stored in the Peabody
heated debate today, Lang, in 1873, reportedly shot the world’s largest grizzly, a monster that left a 19-inch-wide track, weighed 2,350 pounds, and reportedly swallowed six locals. Canyon Country today is a state historical landmark. (Both courtesy SCV Historical Society.) W. W. “Wert” Jenkins was one of the patriarchs of the great Castaic Range War. It lasted from 1876 to about 1916. Somewhere between 27 and 40 men (and one woman) were killed in one of the West’s biggest land disputes. Called
(who is reportedly buried somewhere under Veteran’s Park on Newhall Avenue), rode across a wooden bridge, and the special effect was spliced in for John Ford’s 1923 film Three Jumps Ahead. Placerita’s Andy Jauregui reportedly made the jump, as did supposedly another stuntman. Another rumor noted that one stuntman died in an attempt. Will Rogers later “duplicated” the mighty leap. Kidding his friend Mix, Rogers and his horse Soapdish, in mid-air, performed a triple somersault. Audiences howled.