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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
October 25
1898 - Newhall pioneer Henry Clay Wiley (Wiley Canyon) dies in Los Angeles [story]
HC Wiley

Now and Then in the SCV| Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieFirst, a shout out to Mary Logian to thank her for the nice compliment about how I look like an early SCV pioneer, Sanford Lyon. Thanks, Mary. I’ve also been compared to Captain Phillips of Maersk, Ala., and Somali pirate fame.

Some who dislike my commentaries compare me to other things. Why they want to compare me to the back end of a horse I don’t know.

I have canyon envy. You see, I love Pico Canyon and Mentryville, and I see the Placerita Canyon Nature Center is getting a new floor right now and soon, some brand-new museum displays. The floors of the Felton School and Pico Cottage in Mentryville are slowly rotting away. What isn’t rotting is being harmed by camera mounts and filming in the cottage. Sad. So very sad.

With the city buying 114 acres in Lyon Canyon, nearly all of the area where I herded cattle is now protected. The one huge exception is Stevenson Ranch. Every trip up Pico as I pass the Ralphs there I think, I’m glad there is a parking lot there; that way, no young kid will have to cut, rake and bale hay there. I don’t miss that job, even if the size of my belly says I need it. Got to admit it was always a great workout.


Manzer, Lyon, Phillips: Switched at birth?

Along that same road I see the Old Glory oak tree. It was made famous when some folks kept a developer from cutting it down and had it moved. It was pure dumb luck that my bus driver never hit that tree with the bus. It was a pretty sharp curve around it, and a couple of times we were sure we weren’t going to make it to school.

I used to think Pico was so much better than Placerita Canyon because you couldn’t drive through to someplace else. That could end in a few years when the new road goes over to Highway 126. Someday. Maybe.

Are all y’all happy you have water restrictions because the formerly Great State of California is sending more water downstream to protect the delta smelt? It is a pretty good bait fish, but…

We need desalinization plants all along the coast. I think there are some plans to do just that. If wind and solar power aren’t enough, we can always figure out how to use all of the hot air being generated in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Evelyne Vandersande) New concrete floors are being poured this week at the Placerita Nature Center, where the County of Los Angeles is preparing to install brand-new, first-rate interpretive displays. Across town, Darryl's beloved Pico Canyon isn't controlled by L.A. County. It's run by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which hasn't performed similar work.

(Photo by Evelyne Vandersande) New concrete floors are being poured this week in the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, where the County of Los Angeles is preparing to install wonderful new interpretive displays. Across town, Darryl’s beloved Pico Canyon isn’t controlled by L.A. County. It’s run by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which hasn’t performed similar work. He’s got a serious case of “canyon envy.”

I love to drive toward the ocean on Highway 126. I wish there were a fruit stand on the north side of the road where I have room for my motor home to park. It isn’t easy to get into my two favorite markets just east of Fillmore when I’m headed west.

Next month is the infamous Avocado Festival in Carpinteria. Can’t wait. All things avocado are there. It used to be lemons, and now, AVOCADOS RULE. Being a native of this state, I must say that. Along with California navel oranges, surfing and sunshine. Didn’t Sunkist just move to Valencia?

Our weather is going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride for a few weeks. The hottest days should be behind us, but one never knows with climate change happening. Actually, this drought and hot weather are just like the 3- or 4-year period before ol’ Henry Mayo Newhall was able to by some parched ranch property and then created Newhall where Saugus is today. It was moved to its new location a couple of years later.

I think old Henry did a right nice job of buying this valley. His early vision has morphed into all we have today. I like to think he would like it. Especially the trees.

He didn’t get into Placerita or Pico canyons. That may have been something he didn’t want to do or get to do. He had several other ranches and farms between here and San Francisco.

Both canyons turned out to have riches besides the usual gold that was in Placerita. They had oil. Black gold. It would have made Henry and his family a lot richer.

Later, after his kids formed The Newhall Land and Farming Co., they tried many times to drill for oil. It took a long time and many dry holes. Eventually they found some. But their real riches came from selling their vast land holdings instead of cattle and sheep. They sold the land where we now have houses all over this valley.

I think the Newhalls got it right. I’ve been on the east end of a westward-headed herd. Hate sucking dust. I’ve never once had to “ride herd” on houses. Henry’s kids and grandkids and great grandkids turned out pretty smart.

Must have been our good air and abundant water. Think so?


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 [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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