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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
68°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
| Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieOne of my favorite memories of a summer rainstorm in the SCV is from about 1957. I was sitting on the porch of our home on Church Street in Castaic, looking southwest at the ridge tops. I was watching lightning strikes on the ridges and rain pouring down in the same places. The wind brought the wonderful smells of high desert landscape … sage and mesquite with a just washed smell I can’t forget.

Yesterday late afternoon in Acton, a good, old-fashioned “frog drowning” rain along with lightning, thunder and wind came roaring through town. More than an inch of rain in maybe a 35-minute period. And then it was over. As quickly as it started, the rain moved on or just plain stopped.

Our local history tells us of a rainstorm in 1938 that flooded most of Acton and sent a rather large flash-flood down the Soledad Canyon. There are pictures of a submerged Acton along with the rodeo grounds at Saugus (Saugus Speedway and now the Swap Meet). I’m sure there were some bridges out and even the railroad was affected. It was a huge storm with flooding all over Southern California. In fact, it was one of the reasons the Los Angeles River was encased in concrete. Had to control the floods.

Structures in Acton wash downriver in the Great Flood of March 2, 1938. Click image to see more.

Structures in Acton wash downriver in the Great Flood of March 2, 1938. Click image to see more.

Here in California, we face an environmental conundrum. If we get a lot of rain, the brush on our hills and mountains grows lush and wonderful. That brush becomes fuel for wildfire when the rain stops. It happened in 1962. We had lots of rain and even some snow. There was nearly a foot of snowfall up in Pico Canyon at Mentryville, with maybe eight to 12 inches of snow in Newhall. Summer came and it was hot and dry. Sure enough, the fires started. One began near Hasley Canyon in Castaic and burned all the way to the San Fernando Valley – right through Mentryville. Another started just north of Placerita Canyon at the old Circle J dude ranch and was the cause of Melody Ranch burning down. That fire also kept burning over the hill to that lesser valley south of us.

The fall of 1962 also had a lot of rain, and the seeds planted to have something cover the burn areas germinated and grew. Deep, green plants that our cattle loved. Only those plants caused the cattle to have extreme gas. That was the time I learned how to use an instrument called a “troll car” (I think) to put a hole in the cow and relieve the gas pressure. It was a large tube about a half inch in diameter with a sharpened, pointed rod that went through the middle of the tube.

I was taught how to place the tube and punch through the left side of the cow where it was bloated. One would then stand at an arm’s length away from the instrument and pull the rod out of the tube. This allowed the gas to escape and thus save the cow. Yes, the gas pressure could get so bad, a cow could die from it. The one rule when using it was to stand well off to the side.

Fire and rain, or rain and fire, are both a blessing and a curse. We’ve had bad droughts before, and fires followed. Just like a well-oiled clock.

The fire that destroyed Melody Ranch in 1962 also burned through the hills and took out the administration building at Olive View Sanitarium. Click image for more.

The fire that destroyed Melody Ranch in 1962 also burned through the hills and took out the administration building at Olive View Sanitarium. Click image for more.

One reason old Henry Mayo Newhall was able to buy most of the SCV at rock-bottom prices was because of a drought that had driven the previous owners into bankruptcy. There is some evidence that the Tataviam Indians may have practiced a little “slash and burn” agriculture to help some beneficial plants grow more proficiently. Makes sense to me. That technique is used by indigenous peoples all over the world. So fire caused by man has been around our valley for hundreds and hundreds of years.

In the long and great history of our valley, it is the events like rain, snow and fire that have shaped and defined it over the years. Often times, man was not involved at all. Other times, and too often, man is involved. So far this year, CAL FIRE reports there have been about 4,800 wildfires – about 1,000 more than usual. So far in 2014, none here in our valley has grown to overcome the firefighters’ efforts to stop them.

When wildfire comes to our valley, all of our other problems seem trifling. Billboards weren’t a problem for the fires in the past; they just burned quickly and helped spread the flames. Those structures were mostly wood back then.

Wildfire also stopped trains by burning bridges and trestles.

You know, I find it ironic that the 1962 fire that burned through Placerita Canyon was caused by spontaneous combustion in a pile of horse manure and straw that had come from stalls and corrals. It was a “dump” that caused the fire.

I know that watching fire surround Newhall in 1962 made many of us think the world was ending. It was so scary.

We don’t need that again. Be careful out there. With all we hear, read and see about wildfire, I saw a man in a car last week who threw out a cigarette out the window. I was about to call 9-1-1 with the license number to report it when a sheriff’s  vehicle went around me and stopped the gentleman. I think he got a special award from the deputy.

If convicted, I hope the judge throws the book at him. I think it would be fitting for him to clear brush for the county. Maybe for the next 10 years.

Justice must be swift and sure for folks like that. Don’t you agree?

 

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. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed by clicking on his byline above. 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.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Pippin says:

    I agree. Clearing brush for the county would be fitting. He can start with my property in Acton.

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
Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
It makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.
Thursday, Oct 4, 2018
Local entrepreneurs, industry leaders and business owners are looking for employees who can communicate clearly, whether writing or speaking; effectively collaborate on teams; and quickly make decisions that benefit both the company and its customers.
Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018
Canyon Country is known as a major residential area in our City, as well as a popular commercial and retail spot.
Monday, Oct 1, 2018
In her message for October 2018, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste invites the community to the annual State of the City Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018
Not being able to record and document what Knight and Hill stated during the debate makes it difficult for our community to hold both of them accountable to what they say.
Friday, Sep 14, 2018
Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage have different benefits and costs that you should consider based on your personal needs. Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and it’s a good idea to know how the two types of Medicare work before you select one.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation presents its latest “Recreation After Dark” event, “Goin’ Country at Hart.”
Oct. 19: Goin’ Country at Hart to Feature Moldy Marvin, Highway 138
ARCADIA, Calif. — On Wednesday, Jerry Perez officially reported to the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, where he will serve as the new Forest Supervisor, replacing Jeff Vail, who accepted the position of deputy director for Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources in the Forest Service’s Washington Office.
New Angeles National Forest Supervisor Excited About New Position
Le Chene French Cuisine has announced that they will be hosting two special events coming to you in November.
Le Chene Invites Residents to November Celebrations
The Valencia High School Marching Band and Color Guard held their first major fundraising event for their band season.
Valencia High School Marching Band Appreciates Support from Community
The city of Santa Clarita will present three music-related sessions at the 2018 Arts Symposium at The Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Oct. 20: Art Symposium to Stage 3 Music Sessions
It makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.
How to Shop for Medicare Plans | Commentary by Greg Dill
StarKist Co. has agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of packaged seafood sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
StarKist Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing
The First Presbyterian Church of Newhall will be performing “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress.”
Newhall Church to Present ‘The Green Velvet Christmas Dress’
Decorated with fun embellishments such as puffy paint, tulle fabric, feathers and even bubble wrap, artist Georgette Arison’s mixed-media art in “Dressing Up is Fun,” the newest art exhibit at the Newhall Community Center, uses unconventional methods to showcase costume design.
‘Dressing Up is Fun’ Exhibit Now Showcasing at Newhall Community Center
Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Santa Clarita Oktoberfest is a Southern California twist on the original Oktoberfest held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Oct. 19, 20: Santa Clarita Oktoberfest
College of the Canyons has been ranked No. 29 by the Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine’s Top 100 colleges and universities list for graduating Hispanic students.
Hispanic Outlook Ranks COC No. 29 on Top 100 List
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a United States Air Force Thunderbirds pilot and a graduate of Saugus High School who died on April 4 during a routine aerial training flight in the Nevada Test and Training Range, lost consciousness before the fatal crash, according to a report released by the Air Force.
Report: Santa Clarita Thunderbirds Pilot Lost Consciousness Before Crash
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close 62 campground pit toilets, considered to be large capacity cesspools, at seven national forests across California.
Forest Service Forced to Close Cesspools in State’s National Forests
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its annual account Wednesday of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County in 2017.
LA County Hate Crimes Continue to Rise
Sheriff Jim McDonnell has named Sergio Perez, a Los Angeles native, as his Constitutional Policing Advisor to assist the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in sustaining reform and advancing justice for the diverse communities we serve.
LASD Names New Constitutional Policing Adviser
Every year, department members who perform acts of great courage and heroism, who go above and beyond the call of duty to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk, are honored and recognized at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
LASD Department Members, Private Citizens Recognized at Award Ceremony
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
The Probation Reform and Implementation Team met Wednesday to discuss a new mission and vision for the nation’s largest Probation Department, and consider an organizational structure that supports separate adult and juvenile probation operations in Los Angeles County.
County Officials Weigh Juvenile, Adult Probation Reform
"Hedda Gabler" is the first CalArts School of Theater MFA production of the school year, running Nov. 2-10 in Ensemble Room II, E407 on the CalArts campus in Valencia.
Nov. 2-10: CalArts MFA Director Bonnell Revives Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’
David Rosenboom will step down as Dean and join the regular faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts at the end of the spring 2020 semester.
Rosenboom to Exit as Dean, Join Faculty of Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts
Following a recent report by a Pennsylvania grand jury that detailed a widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, which involved more than 1,000 children and more than 300 priests, a civil suit was filed Oct. 2 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of a Camarillo resident.
Suit Targets Priests; Report ID’s 5 from SCV’s Past
College of the Canyons has been named a 2018 Champion of Higher Education for Excellence in Transfer by The Campaign for College Opportunity.
COC Named a 2018 Champion of Higher Education
Here's a look at how The Master's University sports team rank in the latest polls.
Peek at the Polls: TMU Women’s Volleyball Holds at No. 11
Supervisors voted Tuesday to develop a proposal for a comprehensive, trauma-informed and gender-responsive job training program at Century Regional Detention Facility that prepares female inmates for employment after release.
County to Create Job Center for Jailed Women
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital will present "Breast Health Demystified: An Evening of Awareness" at the Henry Mayo Center in Valencia on Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: Breast Health Evening of Awareness at Henry Mayo
A conservation group sued Los Angeles County on Tuesday seeking emails, text messages and other documents exchanged with the developer behind the 12,000-acre Centennial at Tejon Ranch planned community on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
LA County Sued for Records on Centennial Housing Project
Oscar-nominated producer Jennifer Fox will produce the 10th Annual Governors Awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Sunday, Nov. 18.
Nov. 18: Jennifer Fox to Produce Academy’s 2018 Governors Awards
"Rock the Polls," a free, non-partisan concert featuring up and coming Los Angeles-area bands and the opportunity for students to register to vote, is set for the Newhall Family Theater on Sunday, Oct. 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Oct. 21: ‘Rock the Polls’ Concert, Student Voter Registration Drive
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn on Tuesday directing the Department of Public Health to develop a countywide typhus prevention and response plan.
Supes OK Typhus Response Plan, Program for Homeless Population
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to update local ordinances to address the emerging threats to public health posed by electronic cigarettes and cannabis.
County Updates Smoking Restrictions to Include Vaping, Cannabis
In two years, California voters will have the chance to approve wholesale changes to a landmark property tax code and squeeze billions in new taxes from state businesses.
Property-Tax Reform Plan Qualifies for 2020 California Ballot
The U.S. Postal Service has launched an app that lets residents see what's coming in their daily mail.
Preview What’s in Your Daily Mail with New USPS App
A federal judge Tuesday questioned what harm the government would face if it had to implement a pending settlement agreement to grant asylum interviews to families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the since-abandoned zero-tolerance immigration policy.
Feds Stall on Family Asylum Claims Until Final Settlement Approval
1837 - Trapper Peter LaBeck killed by grizzly bear at El Tejon [story]