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1998 - Worst day of record-setting 1997-98 El Nino storm season [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Jun 8, 2014

mug_darrylmanzerHumans seem to love erecting monuments to themselves or for themselves.

I remember reading that when some archeologists were excavating some buildings near Rome, they found a funny-shaped altar.  It was a carved piece of marble with a hole in the middle. The edges of the hole were rounded.

At first they thought it might be an altar for human sacrifice. During the dig, some little kid came by and said, “That looks just like the toilet my family has in our house.” Sure enough, the “altar” was really a toilet.

Here in the United States, it has also been called a “throne.”

Pyramids in Egypt and in the Americas. Cave paintings along with graffiti, statues, piles of rocks and all kinds of things. We humans just like to leave something that says, “Look at this. I was here.”

Saturday afternoon on a short exploration with members of the SCV and Acton Historical Societies, we saw yet another example of what I call “I was here” art.

Godzilla vs. Stonerhenge.

Godzilla vs. Stonerhenge.

There was a pretty good, small scale model of Stonehenge. I was most impressed. One of the group suggested we call it “Stoner-henge.” And so it has been named.

At another spot during our short trek, we encountered a stack of rocks many feet tall. Someone spent a long time stacking those rocks.

We were close to the railroad tunnel in Soledad Canyon and saw no small amount of graffiti on its entrance.

Like the mammoths and mastodons, sloths and saber-toothed cats that got stuck in the La Brea tar pits, there is a pond in Towsley Canyon that has a thick, heavy oil film. Hundreds of sticks are sticking out of the oil there.

Up in Pico Canyon near the first oil well, CSO No. 4, is another small rock monument of recent vintage.

All over our valley you can find examples of “art” – from ancient petroglyphs, carved art and painted graffiti to sticks stuck in ponds and rocks. Stacks of stones and small constructions that all say, “I was here” or maybe “We were here.”

This is not a new phenomenon. As the wagon trains of the westward migration passed rock formations in Wyoming, those hardy pioneers carved names and dates in the sandstone.

School desks used to be adorned with names, initials and other doodles. It’s harder to do that today, since the little pocket knives we used will get a kid suspended or expelled if it is found on a student.

I fear that someday in the distant future, an archeologist will find some of this “art” and attach some sort of religious symbol and significance to it. “That heart with the arrow looking to pierce it and with the letters in the middle must have been a search for religion. Maybe even a search for God.”

Maybe it would be easier if we found such things near those “altars” in old Rome. I mean, why would the ancient residents want to separate that heart symbol from the others?

No, I don’t knock down monuments like we saw today. Since it is near the river bottom, it shall be washed away when and if it ever rains here again. Instead, I admired that work of nameless folks. People admire Stonehenge in England. This is just on a much smaller scale. It was “way cool.”

Sketch of the Manzer family brand. (It is read “M4,” not M-Plus.)

Sketch of the Manzer family brand. (It is read “M4,” not M-Plus.)

We found some abandoned mines and an old water well. Some of the rocks looked like they had gold locked in them. Other rocks were plain but beautiful. We contemplated stacking some of them ourselves so that the next rainy season they could be sacrificed, too.

I have been prone to leaving little monuments, marking my journey in this world. At each home we lived in, there was always a project that called for some concrete work. Inside the chicken house in Mentryville there should be a slab, and imprinted on that slab is our family cattle brand. It can also be found in some concrete in Vallejo and Benicia; Bremerton, Wash., and in Chesapeake and Suffolk, Va. It was a simple brand and the iron was made in Newhall at the shop of the Frew family.

So if you see that symbol, you’ll know I was there. I, too, have left a monument or two.



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 Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].





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  1. Lol that’s probably by Castaic watched a tweaker working on one of those

  2. Ryan Dibble Ryan Dibble says:

    Actually no. My friend Julie Palmer did this at the caves off soledad in canyon country. Or right outside of canyon country. We go here all the time to hike and her boyfriend looks for gold. And actually has a few ounces of it from here. So no, drugs don’t have any part to do in this. It may be hard to accept but it’s true.

  3. I think its pretty neat, and I find it weird how many people follow tweakers around with some of the previous posts.

  4. Ryan Dibble Ryan Dibble says:

    I meant drugs. Not drums. Stupid spell check.

  5. I’ll take Stonehenge

  6. Sean Ventsam Sean Ventsam says:

    Yup Julie did it! Then even had a helicopter go pro doing fly bys! Awesome!

  7. Sean Ventsam Sean Ventsam says:

    She’s not a tweeker! By tge way that was like so four months ago

  8. Julie Palmer Julie Palmer says:

    Thank you Ryan and Sean, these guys are just idiots that stereotype and it’s a shame because they have no clue who I am or what I’m about. It goes to show you don’t believe everything you read especially from SCV t.v. It’s very poor editing and I find it offensive and disappointing!

  9. I think it’s cool man. I can see my Brother in law Gary doing something like this. He was very creative.

  10. Linda says:

    Ryan, I am interested in the caves that you talked about. Sounds really neat.

  11. Linda Pippin Linda Pippin says:

    Ryan Dibble…Caves off Soledad? Would love to know where. Came across these “monuments” at Ventura Beach. Loads of rocks upon rocks.

  12. Linda Pippin Linda Pippin says:

    Ryan Dibble…Caves off Soledad? Would love to know where. Came across these “monuments” at Ventura Beach. Loads of rocks upon rocks.

  13. Linda Pippin Linda Pippin says:

    So many interesting “monuments”.

  14. Linda Pippin Linda Pippin says:

    So many interesting “monuments”.

  15. Ryan Dibble Ryan Dibble says:

    It’s simple. Go down soledad towards Agua dulce/acton. And right past the first little rv park there will be a road to ur right it’ll be be4 the tunnel, take that road. It goes down n around the mountain when u get to the bottom go off the asphalt, park, and on the mountain across the wash there r mining caves. In the wash on the way to that mountain is julies art work.

  16. Ryan Dibble Ryan Dibble says:

    It’s simple. Go down soledad towards Agua dulce/acton. And right past the first little rv park there will be a road to ur right it’ll be be4 the tunnel, take that road. It goes down n around the mountain when u get to the bottom go off the asphalt, park, and on the mountain across the wash there r mining caves. In the wash on the way to that mountain is julies art work.

  17. Please let me know where this is at…it is awesome! Lol

  18. Thanks…I love our open space…exploring it! Have a great Monday!

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