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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
October 31
1923 - Newhall Chamber of Commerce petitions state to pave Spruce Street (now Main); it happens three years later [story]
Spruce Street

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, May 24, 2015

darrylmanzer0215Many thousands of you folks walked through Heritage Junction at William S. Hart Park during the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival in April. You may have stopped and shopped at the vendors in the Pardee House or maybe the old Newhall Ranch House. Many of you had at least one, if not more, glasses of beer or wine at the old Mitchel Adobe Schoolhouse. (The thick adobe walls helped keep the beer cool.)

Maybe you took the time to see the Art Director’s Guild exhibit in the freight room of the old Saugus Train Station along with the little museum in the baggage room. It was a good couple of days for the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society gift shop, too.

Adults and kids alike got to ring the bell on the train engine and even up at the Ramona Chapel. It was a fine event for the city of Santa Clarita, Hart Park and of course the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, as well.

But all of those buildings and other structures take a lot of time and effort to keep in shape. For that, the Historical Society needs a growing and active membership.

There are weeds to pull and fences to paint. The removal of unused junk from the various parts of Heritage Junction is still waiting for members and volunteers to get it into some lonely dumpster.

You’ve seen the houses and exhibits; there is always a need for dusting and cleaning. Maybe you are an expert at sweeping floors. All veterans are able to use a broom. And you old sailors know how to use a swab (aka, mop).

Our computers are configured to about the year 1992. I’m sure some computer expert would love to have some free advertising that says you got things working again. Let me put it this way: We have an ancient program called WordPerfect on our machines. Want to help cure that problem?

scvhs_depotHow about you electricians? The wiring in a couple of the buildings looks like noodles on a plate. Not sure what we’ve got, but it obviously needs repair. Same goes for the plumbing. There are a few wooden items that need repair, too. A nice finish carpenter would be a welcome addition to our list of volunteers.

The Historical Society is not against a little corporate sponsorship at all. Maybe your heating and air conditioning company wants to tackle the problems of controlling the temperature and humidity in a building that was originally built for wood stoves and kerosene lamps.

The list of things to do is nearly endless. In the freight room of the train station there is a “soft spot” in the floor. We need to get it repaired before it becomes a hole. The front steps of the Newhall Ranch House have been replaced and are looking great. It was the Eagle Scout project of our own Evan Decker. The steps look like they did in the old pictures we have of the place. A job well done.

We’ve got something for just about everyone … in the way of chores. But we also want to do some more simple and fun things like ice cream socials with hand-cranked ice cream. Some new lectures are planned for folks wanting to learn more about our history, too.

Want to help us build a mine? We want to exhibit our little mine car and track, so we thought it would be good to create a mine entrance and put the mine car out on the tracks. Right now it is behind a chain-link fence and getting covered with weeds.

We have at least one windmill to erect. At one time, you could see windmills for pumping water all over the SCV. We think it would be wonderful to have a couple of them up and running again. They won’t be connected to a real well, but then again…

Our old tractors need restoration, or at least they need to be moved to a place folks can see them, and painted to keep the rust at bay. Want to help? That goes for our hay rakes, mow bars, old hay baler, plows and cultivators.

Maybe Southern California Edison would like to restore and install our antique lampposts. We have enough for our street. There are two ornate lamps that would go well with the wrought-iron gates at our front entrance. They will be set in the brick wall that is planned between Heritage Junction and the north end of Hart Park. Come place a few bricks with us.

To do all of this, we need some money – well, lots of money. We also need a lot of people. We need our community to join in and help us preserve our past. We have to do this together. It cannot happen with the few but only with the many.

Just think: At the next Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, you can show folks what you did when you walk up to see the canons fire or a band play. The whole family can help.

All we can say at this point is, “please.”

And thank you.


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, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived atDManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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