[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
63°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Nov 18, 2012

Darryl Manzer

In the book, “Crying Hill,” by local author Jayne Saporito, there is a description of a scream so loud on a hill in Towsley Canyon that the sheriff is called.

That event really happened. Jayne describes it as a scream a child would make in pain and agony.

Jayne Saporito heard that scream for real, and it compelled her to write the book. Great book. Nice read about our valley. That scream also caused her to call the LASD, and a couple of deputies investigated and found nothing – but they did hear the scream, too.

So, does some tortured spirit haunt Towsley Canyon? Or was it the scream of a young mountain lion or maybe a bobcat? I would guess the latter.

You see, until recently, there were no stories or myths about Towsley and Pico canyons being haunted. Mentryville might be called a “ghost town,” but having lived there, and in talking to other former residents, nobody has ever talked of ghosts … or spirits … or goblins … or …

It’s like the myth that the Hart High auditorium is haunted. People have heard footsteps in an empty theater. Well, we pulled some pranks about that in the 1960s. If you were really quiet, you could hear the wind blowing the ventilation louvers on the roof open and shut. Sounded like footsteps.

So we would tell some poor, unsuspecting underclassman about the ghosts, and you could hear them …

Hey. We had believed it as we ran from the place the first time, but we soon heard the laughter. The “Haunted Hart Auditorium” myth had claimed some more victims – and we passed it on.

The Big House, aka Pico Cottage, looked rather creepy in 1961 after the chimney fell off and the trees were chopped down. But rumors of a ghostly presence are overblown. Click image for more info.

In 1962, local historian A.B. Perkins wrote an article in The Signal about the “Pico Ghost Camp.” Around the same time, Mr. Perkins and the L.A. Times ran articles about the “Pico Ghost Town.” I helped on one of those. The reporter from the Times asked me if there was a graveyard in Pico Canyon. I said, “No, but there is a carved monument on top of Mustard Hill that looks like a gravestone.” That reporter went on to write about how I told him about the graveyard.

Alas, my friends, there is no graveyard. No ghosts that I have seen or heard about. No spirits in either Towsley or Pico canyons. Nothing in Pico Cottage (aka the Big House), the barn, garage, or Felton School. Never heard of any. Nope. No way.

Pico Cottage has been in a number of bad flicks that were supposed to scare you. Maybe that is where the myth started. Who knows?

Wouldn’t it be great if a few spirits did live there? Hey, Magic Mountain! Fright Fest was good, but come on over and see the real thing.

I’ve been thinking about what “non-paranormal” role the old place could fill, and how the resulting revenue would help preserve the buildings for future generations. Just to think of a few, this is my list so far:

* Conference center for small groups in the Pico Cottage – city councils, business groups, clubs and organizations.

* Use Felton School as a classroom for a part of the California history requirements for third grade.

* A real barn dance in a real barn? Maybe a concert sponsored by Bobbi Jean at OutWest in Old Town Newhall.

* Catered and sponsored picnics at Johnson Park for the same types of groups that are using the Pico Cottage.

* Of course, continue filming on the property.

Sure, these types of events would require some major changes to the structures and the grounds for safety and such. Better electrical systems in the house.  Air conditioning and heating. Fire sprinklers in all the buildings. Reactivate the kitchen and bathrooms. Replace the washroom/toilet on the back porch. These improvements could pay for themselves in short order.

There is already a place in Towsley Canyon that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy operates for weddings and similar shindigs. It is called Towsley Lodge and is being used for all kinds of events. Maybe the same could happen in Mentryville.

There have been weddings in the house in Pico. How about a school teacher getting hitched in the old Felton School?  Reception in the house afterward, or maybe a wagon ride up to Johnson Park for an outdoor reception and dinner?

It can all be done. I bet we can find the money to do it. It will be a lot easier to find funding for all that than it will be to find some ghosts in either canyon.

In 1982, I got stuck at sea on a submarine doing some testing. We waited 21 days for a small test boat to come out of San Francisco to conduct testing of the submarine sonar systems at sea. I thought it would be a good idea to have a boat or small ship we operated at Mare Island Naval Shipyard that was a lot more sea-worthy for that testing.  I wrote a proposal and it was approved.

So we found the ship of 1944 vintage. We found systems and equipment to do the testing. We found the crew. We were given a budget to get the ship ready and came in far under what we were allotted. We went to sea and did the testing without delay due to weather.  It paid for itself in saving submarine operating time the first time we deployed it.

Now, I’m not saying the returns on using the facilities in Mentryville will pay for those necessary improvements on the first rental. But I know that using those buildings for more than movie sets would bring in far more revenue.

Right now they are earning nothing, most of the time – because ghosts don’t pay rent.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Saturday, Oct 19, 2019
Some people find the college financial aid process intimidating, if not overwhelming. But when it comes to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, the fear is misplaced.
Thursday, Oct 17, 2019
New Medicare Plan Finder tool helps you pick your Medicare plan online.
Wednesday, Oct 2, 2019
In his message for October, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin invites the community to join in celebrating the Santa Clarita Skatepark's 10th anniversary.
Tuesday, Oct 1, 2019
October is one of my favorite months of the year.
Saturday, Sep 28, 2019
Tenants must realize they are responsible for helping to pay for the maintenance, upkeep, repair and, in some instances, replacement of common areas.
Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019
Some things to consider before signing a lease.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
Some people find the college financial aid process intimidating, if not overwhelming. But when it comes to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, the fear is misplaced.
Don’t Let Student Aid Filing Scare You | Commentary by Dr. Dianne Van Hook
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The National Weather Service on Friday afternoon issued a high wind watch for the Santa Clarita Valley from Saturday evening through Sunday morning.
High Wind Watch Saturday Night to Sunday Morning
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has published the agenda for their Tuesday, Oct. 22 meeting starting at 1 p.m.
Oct. 22 Meeting Agenda – LA County Supervisors
The next regular meeting of the North Los Angeles County Transportation Coalition Board of Directors is set for Monday, October 21, at 1 p.m.
Oct. 21: North Los Angeles County Transportation Coalition Regular Meeting
Tickets are now on sale for the Youth Project's 13th Annual Hold ‘Em Not Hassle ‘Em fundraising poker tournament, to be held at the Valencia Country Club on Saturday, November 2, starting at 5 p.m.
Nov. 2: Youth Project ‘Hold ‘Em Not Hassle ‘Em Poker Tourney
Author Michele Singer Evans will sign her new book "Island of Zarada: The Larimar Quest" at Barnes & Noble in Valencia on Sunday, October 20 at 2 p.m., and the public is invited to join her.
Oct. 20: Michele Singer Evans Book Signing at Barnes & Noble
Construction has commenced at the new Orchard Medical Center on Orchard Village Road in Valencia, CBRE announced.
Walls Tilted Up for New Orchard Medical Center
Downed power lines in Newhall sparked a small fire and left more than 1,880 people without electricity, between Lyons Avenue and the southern edge of the Newhall Pass, Friday afternoon.
Downed Power Lines Spark Small Fire, Power Outage in Newhall
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored 16 student winners from colleges and universities around the world at the 46th Student Academy Awards ceremony, held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills Thursday night.
AMPAS Honors Winners of 2019 Student Academy Awards
Local sheriff’s detectives, investigating the break-in last month of a home in Stevenson Ranch, tracked their suspect to Bakersfield where they arrested one man, seizing guns and drugs in the operation.
SCV Detectives Track Burglary Suspect to Bakersfield, Seize Guns, Drugs
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation’s William S. Hart Regional Park, in cooperation with the Friends of Hart Park, will present the Hart Bookstore & Collectors Flea Market at the Newhall park on Saturday, October 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Oct. 26: Collectors’ Flea Market at Hart Park
A Val Verde citizens’ group that sued the county over its decision to grant Chiquita Canyon Landfill an operating permit saw its case dismissed in court.
Court Tosses Val Verde Group’s Lawsuit Over Chiquita Canyon Landfill
Emergency road work to repair a water-damaged stretch of Newhall Ranch Road wrapped up Thursday evening about 7:45, city of Santa Clarita spokesperson Carrie Lujan said Friday morning.
Newhall Ranch Road Reopened After Water Main Break, Repairs
Saugus Union School District officials discussed how they once again increased scores on the statewide assessment testing over the previous year, and also how to close achievement gaps found in certain students.
Saugus School District Sees Improvement in State Test Scores
California is expected to experience a drier than average winter, according to an outlook published by federal climate experts Thursday.
Feds Predict Warmer, Drier Winter 2019-2020 for California
Amid a revived legal challenge over the storage of nuclear waste and public doubts over the safety of the decommissioning process of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved demolition Thursday of the iconic Southern California nuclear power plant.
San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant OK’d for Demolition
Marking the 30th anniversary of the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake and its devastation to buildings, bridges, freeways and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California officials on Thursday launched a long-awaited statewide warning system that will send cellphone alerts before earthquakes.
California Gets Earthquake Warning System 30 Years After Loma Prieta
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
Campton store
New Medicare Plan Finder tool helps you pick your Medicare plan online.
Pick Your Medicare Plan Online | Commentary by Greg Dill
David Kuck, who was hired as head coach by the Canyons Aquatic Club two years ago, is now suing the swim club for wrongful termination, alleging he was fired for blowing the whistle on crimes implicating the late child sex crimes suspect Jeremy Anderson.
Former Coach Sues Canyons Aquatic for Wrongful Termination
Preliminary, university-wide data shared by California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White indicated that four- and six-year graduation rates for first-time students and two- and four-year rates for community college transfer students continue to increase and have reached all-time highs.
Study Indicates Grad Rates for First-Time, Transfer Students at All-Time Highs
Lancaster Sheriff's Station detectives in collaboration with the Lancaster Appreciation Program (LANCAP) arrested 4 suspects for armed robbery.
Suspects in Alleged Robberies from Mojave to SCV Arrested
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, who was serving as chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, died Thursday morning. He was 68.
Hill: Cummings ‘Friend, Adviser, Leader’
%d bloggers like this: