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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
September 16
1872 - Mitchell adobe home in Soledad Canyon area first used as schoolhouse; genesis of 1879 Sulphur Springs School District [story]
Mitchell adobe

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieIt seems as if all of the controversy has gone on vacation – except that the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the legal issues of the proposed development along Highway 126. There seem to be some concerns about water and traffic and … the list goes on forever. Let’s just say the start of construction is on hold again.

Now I have been reading a few of the comments about what I write. Most are polite, and those that aren’t I just ignore. We can disagree, but let us be civil of tongue and always gracious. If you’re going to tell me to go to a very warm place for all eternity, at least be polite enough to make me think I’ll enjoy the journey.

Every so often, someone jumps into a conversation and states a whole bunch of “facts” about the history of our little valley that aren’t quite made of, shall we say, “whole cloth.” I can name a few, in the past, that were so wrong. But they were what we learned, and for years they stood uncorrected.

One glaring example is Fremont Pass. We were actually taught in school that what we now know as Beale’s Cut was named Fremont Pass. Don’t know why. John Fremont had come through our valley before the Civil War and left years before any digging in that pass even started.

It goes along with the rest of the legend of “Fremont the Pathfinder.” He only found a lot of stuff because he had guides who knew the land and someone to write press releases extolling his virtues in finding a way to get to someplace somebody already knew how to get to.

I read “facts” about schools and places and things, and most of the “facts” just aren’t so.

Like the “fact” that the city of Santa Clarita wants all of those new houses along Highway 126 because it means more taxes from the homeowners. That “fact” is busted. Why? The city limits stop at Interstate 5 on the west side, except for a tiny bit in Towsley Canyon called Rivendale – which can’t be developed. Otherwise, if it is west of I-5, it isn’t in the city of Santa Clarita.

Some of these things I hear and read are almost funny and even sad. Like some of the following tidbits:

You're probably not old enough to remember when Spanish galleons plied the Rio Santa Clara - or when Hart High grad John Fremont passed through Beale's Cut.

You’re probably not old enough to remember when Spanish galleons plied the Rio Santa Clara – or when Hart High grad John Fremont passed through Beale’s Cut.

Hart High School was built on what used to be a Paiute Indian village. No, it was built on land donated by William S. Hart. And no, I don’t care what some folks told you; they couldn’t have attended Hart High in the 1930s and early ’40s. It started in 1945 and graduated the first class in 1949. I think our Tataviam friends wouldn’t like it if someone said their valley was once Paiute.

Saugus Elementary was where Saugus High School first started after the elementary school was moved. Nope. Not a speck of truth in that myth. Saugus Elementary closed because of concerns about air pollution from the Keysor-Century plant east of the campus on the other side of the tracks. Saugus High School was built on the site of a dairy in Bouquet Canyon – hence the nickname of that school. (I shall not write it here.)

The Santa Clara River flowed above ground from the ocean to at least where Saugus is today. Spanish ships could sail up the river. I love that myth. There were times when enough water flowed that some of the railroad ties could be floated upstream by horses or mules pulling them one at a time. This happened, as near as we know, in the area of Lang Station.

The river flows underground, and as more water is pumped from wells that supply nearly 50 percent of our water in the SCV, we could be in a real crisis. You might be able to see water in the river even now, in the middle of summer, down by the Los Angeles-Ventura County line along Highway 126.

So how does someone learn the real facts about the SCV without having to spend too much time looking stuff up? Well, a lot has already been accomplished for you.

Before you tell the story you heard your friend Earl say was from someone who lived here since 1983 and he heard it from someone from the 1960s who heard it from … see how thing can get twisted? All you have to do is go check the facts at SCVHistory.com. It’s full of pictures and text. (Plus you’ll find most of the articles I’ve written for our local papers and SCVNews.)

You can also go to Heritage Junction at William S. Hart Park. That is the headquarters of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to become a local history nut like many of the rest of us. We can only hope.

You can go visit there and roam around the old Saugus Train Station every Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. To 4 p.m. There is a place to look on the web about it at www.SCVHS.org. All kinds of neat stuff there. In August you can learn about the Harvey Girls.

So let’s stop spreading the urban or suburban myths. Go visit Heritage Junction. Read stuff on SCVHistory.com and most of all, learn about the rich history of our valley.

Yes, we had gold in the colors of yellow and black. We mined for copper and borax. There was a dam that failed and flooded the valley all the way to the ocean. Movies have been filmed here since 1910 and still are today. All this and right in your home town.

It just can’t get any better. Now go enjoy the day in the beautiful and historic Santa Clarita Valley.



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 are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. Good article! I am interested in one thing. Apparently, the fountain at Rancho Camulos (on Route 126) was constructed in 1852 and it was gravity-fed from the Santa Clara River (no pumps). The river was either much higher than it is now or I don’t understand the engineering. Any ideas as to where I can find out more about this?

  2. Thanks for the info and the pointer to SCVHistory.com. Truth isn’t as glamorous as sound bites but it is more satisfying in the long run :)

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