Friday, July 31, 2009

What A Rip-off!

Well, the TV repair place did NOT call back after a couple of hours, so I called them back again.
They are in San Jose. The girl I spoke with was a real ditz. Sounded like she was about 17 years old. Anyway, she starts asking me all of these questions that made no sense. I had already given her my name, address, etc. and the model and serial numbers of the TV. I told her what the problem was even though I told her I had just been on the phone with a Vizio technician who diagnosed that it was the tuner. She then asked me if the TV was on the wall or on a table and asked me if the LCD "Vizio" light on it was lit. I said "No, because the TV is not turned on". I asked her what difference did it make if it was on or off and she said she needed to know the color of the LCD "Vizio" light. She just giggled and said she needed to put it down on the paperwork. Sounded strange to me. So I asked her if they charged a service fee just to look at the TV and she said yes it was a $125 diagnostic fee. Then she told me that we would have to pack the TV up and send it to them in San Jose, which we'd have to pay for up front ourselves. She then told me the "flat rate" for service (above the $125) would include service (labor), parts and shipping it back to us and that the "flat rate" was $250. So now it's $125, plus the $150, plus about $30 to ship it to them, so that's like $305 just to have it fixed. Hell, we only paid $500 for the TV including tax and recycling fee. I told her to forget it.
So since we only use that TV about 2 hours a day (watching the news in the morning), we decided to just leave it as is. If anything else goes wrong with it, then we'll buy a new TV.
I'll bet I could find a local TV repairman around Canyon Country who could fix it for less than that, but to heck with it. We use the big 47" the most.

Update On My Television Problem Posted Yesterday

This morning I sent an email to Vizio telling them about the problem we are having with our 26" flat screen television. They emailed back and asked me to call their technical support people so that they could work with me over the phone. I called them and they had me do a few things, like disconnect everything, do a "reset" with the power button, etc. but it didn't help.
Also to my surprise, I checked my paperwork for the television and found that we actually purchased it on 1-27-08, so it is out of warranty. Ben and I kept thinking that we had just bought it in January 2009. (Time flies when you get older).
Well the Vizio tech said it sounds like the tuner has a short in it and since it is NOT under warranty anymore, they gave me the phone number of a repair contractor they use to have them send a Vizio trained repair person to come to our house to check it out, at our cost of course.
I called the repair contractor but all of their representatives were busy, so they made me leave a voice message and said they would return my call. Hopefully they will call back or I'll have to call them again tomorrow. I'll ask them if they charge a fee just to come to the house and if they can give me an estimate on the price of a new tuner and their labor costs. If we feel that the price is too much, it might just be cheaper for us to go and purchase another television instead of replacing the tuner.
But I keep thinking that in this day and age, a tuner should not cost that much and the labor should be simple. It's probably like a computer, unplug the part and plug the new one back in.
Will just have to wait now and see.


Sometimes I like to do crafts. I've made wind chimes, lawn decorations, worked with latch-hook and needlepoint. Lately I've been doing some beading. I've made myself and some friends several necklaces and now I'm making stretch bracelets.
I made myself some with Pony Beads and with Glass Beads. I gave my friend Judy a couple of bracelets that I made for her birthday. She loves cats, so I made here an "I "heart" Cats" bracelet with Pony Beads and then I made her a really pretty one with different shades of blue glass beads to match a blue glass necklace I made for her last year. She asked me to make some bracelets for her 2 granddaughters (Bre and Ashley) and to make an "heart"Pigs"heart" bracelet for her daughter who is raising a potbellied pig named Ruthy.
I've also made one for my niece Stephanie that reads "I "heart" God" and one for my brother Keith that is red and has "L.A. Angels" on it as that is his favorite baseball team.
Below are photos of the 3 bracelets I made for them. I'll post some photos of some of my glass ones later.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crazy Thursday

Well, I am just going crazy with our televisions.
Last January, we bought 3 new HDTV LCD Flat screen Televisions, all Vizio brand. We have Time Warner Cable for all 3 of them. We have the 42" one hooked up in the living room with an TW HD Digital box so we can pick up a lot of channels. The 26" in our bedroom and the 20" in our computer room are just hooked directly to the "basic cable" but we still the digital channels that are available for free (no HD box required).
All 3 sets have been working fine since January. Three days ago, we noticed that on the 2 small sets (26" and 20") that Time Warner had rearranged the channel line-up on the basic cable. I scanned both TVs to get the new line-up. Everything worked fine until the next evening, we see that TW has changed the line-up again, so I scanned both TVs again and they worked fine for another day. But then last night, it appeared that TW had changed the line-up again! And once again I scanned both sets.
This morning the 20" in the computer room is still working just fine and picks up the "free" digital channels, however, the 26" in the bedroom is NOT picking up the "free" digital channels for some reason. The scan finds them, but they show "no signal" when we try to watch them. Now both of these TVs should get the same line-up as they are connected to the same basic cable coming in from the street.
I contacted Time Warner and the said they didn't know anything about any channel line-up changes, but then I was talking to someone in India so how would they know anyway?
I disconnected the 26" from the cable in the bedroom and brought it into the computer room and reconnected it to the cable here. The "free" digital channels didn't work here either, so obviously, it appears to be the tuner inside the television that is not working, NOT the cable.
Everything was working fine on it until 3 days ago when TW started playing with the line-up.
These cable companies and satellite companies sure have us by the "you now what".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cooler Today

It has felt cooler here today and there has been a nice breeze all day as wall. There was a marine layer this morning, but it was not thick enough to come all the way into our valley from the coast, but it did help cool the air down.
We went out and bought some fresh produce this morning and then went to Arby's for lunch. Been resting most of the day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Lunch

Well, we "defied" that lawsuit I mentioned in a blog the other day and went to Denny's for lunch today. They tilapia fish sure is good. I had that with rice, cinnamon apples, garlic bread and a salad.
It's hot again and I'm really getting tired of it, but we are stuck with is for a few more months.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just A Lazy Monday

Well, I'm basically just being lazy again today.
I did some housework right after Ben left for work this morning....vacuuming, dusting, etc., then I went to Target and Walmart. At Walmart they had these really cute striped blouses on the clearance rack for $2.00 each. I bought two of them, one teal blue and the other cherry. I could not believe the price of them. I thought I'd wear them while on our vacation in September.
Had my lunch and watched "The Young And The Restless" and now I'm just kicking back checking out my blogspot site, my Facebook and my NOTH pages.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Los Angeles Farmer's Market

Today Ben and I drove down to Los Angeles to the "World Famous Farmer's Market".
They are celebrating their 75th Anniversary there. I had not been there in over 30 years, back when Ben and I were first dating. It was very crowded, almost could not find a place to park. We just wandered around a bit in some of the little shops, bought some yummy candy and then headed back through Beverly Hills to Hollywood and then back across the San Fernando Valley and home to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Check out those gas prices - 17 cents a gallon!

Me at the old Gilmore Gas Station

Ben next to the air compressor

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What To Do Saturday

It's getting to where my husband askes me all the time on his days off, "what are we going to do today?"
Since I'm retired, I do whatever I want to do all week. He works 3 days a week and then wants me to try to figure out how to keep ourselves busy on the days he is off.
We used to jump in the car and just head out to parts unknown, but we've gone just about everywhere there is to go nearby. To go farther would take more thought and preparation.
Of course, he never comes up with any ideas of his own, always leaves it up to me.
I'm running out of ideas.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Out To Lunch

Today we are going out to lunch with our friends Karren and Wally. We will either go to Chilis or to Rattlers BBQ.
I just heard yesterday that there is a class action lawsuit against Denny's Restuarants claiming that the food they serve can "kill people".
Some people will file a lawsuit on anything.
I realize that we cannot control the ingredients restaurants use, or control how they prepare the food, but it is up to us as individuals as to whether or not we want to eat there.
Should we start a class action lawsuit against our cities because we "might" get killed driving on the roads they built?
Get real people.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walter Cronkite

Today there will be a private memorial service for Walter Cronkite. A man I grew up watching on television. A man known all over the world. A man who was once voted "the most trusted man in America". With tears in his eyes, he told us President Kennedy had died and he was speechless when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. He taught us history on the TV show "You Are There" back in the 1950's. He came into our homes every evening to tell us what had gone on in the world each day. He was respected by not just the American people, but by presidents and other world leaders. Yet we do not see hundreds of thousands of people leaving "toys" and messages for this man. We do not see hundreds of thousands of people trying to get tickets to his memorial service.
I find it very strange that so much television coverage was there for Michael Jackson's funeral, but not for an American icon like Walter Cronkite. But I guess since he was such a humble man, Walter would have wanted it that way.

"And that's the way it is".

R.I.P. Walter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


What has happened to the "Followers Gadget" on our blogs? They are missing on both of my blogs and I notice they are missing on other blogs that I follow.

What Idiot Decided To Do This?

I was never a big Michael Jackson fan, but someone is really an idiot. All of those stuffed toys that people left at the various places to memorialize Michael Jackson have been buried in Detroit, Michigan. Why were they buried instead of given to children's hospitals or to an organization like Toys For Tots? After all, Michael Jackson supposedly loved children and I'm sure he would have liked for those toys to be given to needy or sick children. If I had left a giant stuffed teddy bear at the Jackson compound and then found out it was thrown into a hole and covered with dirt, I'd be outraged! What was the family thinking? What a waste.

History Blogs

Well yesterday was the last installment of my History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA blogs. I hope those of you who followed those blogs enjoyed them. I enjoyed sharing them with you and I actually found out a lot about the area I live in that I didn't know before I started my research.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #28

Six Flags Magic MountainThe amusement park opened back in 1971 on Memorial Day when it was simply called ‘Magic Mountain’ and it wasn’t until 1979 when the amusement park ‘giant’, Six Flags, bought the park and re-branded it using the ‘Six Flags’ title.In the mid 1970s, the amusement park introduced ‘Revolution’ which, at the time, was the first 360-degree looping roller coaster in the world. Still popular today, the tracks are surrounded with bushes and trees, which add to the excitement, as you’re not able to guess the layout of the track before riding. This amusement park ride was the inspiration behind the film ‘Roller Coaster’ which was released in 1977 and, due to the proximity of the amusement park to Hollywood, it has continued to be used as a backdrop for many films and TV series.A low point in the amusement park’s history came in 2006 when Six Flags announced that Magic Mountain was one of its flagship amusement parks which were being considered for closure. Apart from dwindling attendance figures, another reason cited for possible closure by the amusement park’s officials was that general rowdy behavior by young adults and teenagers – which made up a large majority of the amusement park’s visitors – was to blame. However, in early 2007, when Six Flags announced which of its amusement parks were to close, Magic Mountain was given a reprieve. Today, it has become much more of an all-round family orientated amusement park with its Looney Tunes characters theme rides and, in 2008, work commenced on its ‘Magic of the Mountain’ museum. Situated on the top of the amusement park’s Sky Tower, the museum is jam packed with old memorabilia of the park as well as featuring a history of its TV commercials and there are even parts of old rides on show.However, the amusement park still likes to keep up with its long held tradition of offering some of the most thrill seeking rides around with ‘Batman the Ride’, X2 and ‘The Riddler’s Revenge’ – the world’s fastest and tallest stand up roller coaster. In May 2009, the amusement park launches its latest daredevil ride – ‘Terminator Salvation: The Ride.’

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sad Anniversary

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk, but it is also the anniversary of another day that always makes me very sad. Eleven years ago today, my mom passed away. I miss her very much. Awhile back, I created a "video" tribute to her and my dad. Below is that tribute.

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #27

The Camel Experiment at Ft. Tejon
During the 1850's, the U.S. Army experimented with camels in the hope of developing improved and more economical transport across the wide reaches of the arid west. Fort Tejon played a small role in this experiment after 1857 when Edward F. Beale brought 22 camels to Samuel Bishop's ranch near the fort. He had used the camels to carry forage and supplies for the road surveying party he had been commissioned to lead from Fort Defiance, New Mexico Territory to the Colorado River.
The following year, Beale used the camels once again to haul supplies for the construction crews who were marking and improving the wagon road that had been surveyed the year before. The apparent success of this camel experiment caused the U.S. Army to ask that the camels be turned over to them at Fort Tejon. The War Department refused the request, but on November 17, 1859, Bishop brought the camels to Fort Tejon and left them to be cared for through the winter. They were turned out once again to graze on Bishop's ranch in the spring of 1860 after Brevet Major James H. Carlton refused to use them for his Mojave expedition.
In September, Captain Winfield S. Hancock, Assistant Quartermaster in Los Angeles, experimented with camels as a way of reducing the expense of messenger service between Los Angeles and the recently established Fort Mojave on the Colorado River. Unfortunately, one of the "express camels" died near the Fishponds (modern Barstow). and the experiment was considered a failure. It was noted that while the camels were cheaper to maintain, they were really no faster than the two-mule buckboard in service under contract with the Army.
Early in 1861, three camels were used to carry provisions for the California-Nevada boundary survey under J.R.N. Owen. The expedition ran into severe difficulties, though the camels performed well and may even have saved the lives of Owen and his men. Afterward, the camels were turned over to Captain Hancock in Los Angeles where they were soon joined by those that had been left at Fort Tejon. Eventually, the camels were taken to the Benicia Arsenal and sold at auction.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Our Hiking Trip

My brother Keith and I went on a morning hike to the Towsley Canyon Narrows. Good thing we got out before it got too hot. Was around 75 degrees or so this morning. Now it is around 113 degrees here. There were a lot of people out on the trail.



Also check out the video I shot of my brother singing the George Strait song "Love Without End, Amen".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No History Blog Today or Tomorrow

My brother is coming up from Orange County to spend the weekend with us later this morning, so I will not be posting a History Blog today or tomorrow, however I will post one on Monday.
I am near the completion of my series of History Blogs with only two or three of them left to publish here. I hope you have been enjoying them.

Friday, July 17, 2009

While On My Morning Walk

Saw this cute little guy while on my morning walk.

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #26

How Santa Clarita got its name.
The first expedition to travel by land through California was a Spanish party, commanded by Gaspar de Portolá that marched away from the encampment by the harbor of San Diego on July 14, 1769.
It was a time when English colonists at the other side of the continent lived in substantial cities and were tossing tea into Boston harbor. In manners and spirit they were centuries removed from this unsettled country where Gaspar de Portolá and his party started out overland, with horses, cattle and mules, from the bay named San Diego.
Their goal: to find suitable sites for missions and army posts in this unmapped land.
The party, consisting of 27 Spanish soldiers, two priests, seven muleteers, and Indians from Baja, totaled 67 persons. Their purpose was to find out what lay ashore in California, most of which had only been viewed from the sea.
On August 8 they slipped and slid down the rugged mountains between what is now called the San Fernando Valley (they named it Encino) and the valley beyond, where on August 10 they came to a fine flowing stream. They followed that stream, as it became what they then named the Santa Clara River.
That is the background of this new city of Santa Clarita, born more than two centuries after the river was named.
The reason why it is called "Santa Clarita" and not "Santa Clara" is a further story. Eight years after Portolá and his party named this river, the good padres established a mission just south of the San Francisco Bay, and they named it Santa Clara.
That mission, its river, and the territory that surrounded it, thereupon appropriated the name. The Santa Clara River in the south, which kept its duplicate name but had no mission and very little population on its banks, was ignored.
As time went by and the northern mission was surrounded by Santa Clara County and the city of Santa Clara, the southern stream began to be referred to as the "little Santa Clara River."
That is the major reason this valley -- a well-defined channel between two ranges of hills -- remained nameless for so long. It was referred to as the "Newhall-Saugus area" -- nothing to establish its uniqueness as a well-formed valley. It was the misfortune of having two Santa Clara Rivers.
When the question of naming the valley's first high school came up in the 1940s, A.B. Perkins, a New Englander who had come to town as manager of the local water company and remained as the valley's historian, suggested translating "Little Santa Clara" into Spanish and using that name for the high school: "Santa Clarita."
However, about that time the starring Western actor William S. Hart died, and the local people learned that he had bequeathed his home, his bison herd, and the spreading acreage around his hilltop mansion in Newhall to the public. A grateful citizenry honored him by abandoning "Santa Clarita" and naming the high school for the cowboy actor.
The '40s wore on into the '50s, and the population began to swell. The "Newhall-Saugus area" was still just that, as everyone inside and outside the valley referred to it.
The first tract housing arose in Saugus, along what was called Dry Canyon Road. The Bonelli family, who had built the subdivision on their own ranch land, agreed that "Dry" Canyon wasn't an attractive label in this still mostly-treeless community, and translated it into Spanish. The subdivision still stands along Seco canyon Road.
Furthermore, they grasped at the long-neglected "Santa Clarita" title and named their subdivision "Santa Clarita." However, "Santa Clarita" failed once more to attract adherents. Locals, and eventually everybody, knew it as the "Bonelli tract."
The Bonelli's organized a private water company to serve their new tract and named it the Santa Clarita Water Company. The name was living -- but barely.
In the mid-1950s, the weekly Newhall Signal was sold by the Trueblood family to Scott Newhall, after whose great-grandfather the town was named.
Scott Newhall was at the time editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, but after a couple of years moved all his attention to the Newhall Signal.
One of the things this valley needed, he wrote, was a name. "Newhall-Saugus area" just didn't cut it.
About that time, The Newhall Land and Farming Company, which hitherto had concentrated on cattle and oil production, was launching an enormous new real estate venture in the land adjoining Newhall. They would call their planned community "Valencia."
Scott Newhall, searching for a name that would include the whole valley -- and thus The Signal's readers -- thought he saw his opportunity.
"Valencia Valley!" he exulted.
A nice, alliterative name, in tune with the new era of a burgeoning population with schools and parks and shopping and other elements that would mark it as a thriving suburb.
The Signal expanded from a weekly to a thrice weekly as advertisers increased. Scott Newhall soon learned that other residents of the valley did not share his enthusiasm for the new name.
The complaint came loudest from Canyon Country. They saw in it a plot on the part of The Newhall Land and Farming Company to preempt the community.
Hostility toward the company, born of mistrust of the owners of vast acreage, took the form of rejection of the name "Valencia" as a title for the valley. The Canyon Country Chamber of Commerce took a vote and came down solidly for "Santa Clarita Valley."
Dan Hon, the Chamber's president, accepted the assignment of calling on the editor of The Signal.
It was no mean assignment. Scott Newhall, given to rambunctious overstatement, had expressed himself unequivocally in favor of "Valencia Valley," implying that any person who held other views was not quite right in the head.
It was with this background that attorney Hon went to see Newhall in the Signal office. Both were relatively new to the area, and they found, to mutual surprise, that they liked each other.
The following day The Mighty Signal -- as Newhall referred to it -- came out with its articles of surrender. Hon won the day with "Santa Clarita Valley."
The name appeared in stories and headlines, crept onto maps and signs, and eventually onto the ballot for city hood.
And that's how it happened that this long-nameless valley is nameless no more.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #25

Solemint Junction– the beginnings of Canyon Country, CA
Solemint Junction was a landmark for people who traveled from Los Angeles to Las Vegas between 1938 and 1972. Before 1963, the area that eventually came to be called "Canyon Country" was referred to as "Solemint," representing the confluence of "Soledad" and "Mint" canyons. Solemint Junction was the center of the community, socially and economically. It was the heart and soul of the eastside and for many throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. The junction was the happening place to be.
At the southeast corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway stood the Solemint Store, opened in 1938 by Alfred Clark. A general store, it catered to the needs of local residents, particularly through the World War II years. Clark had connections that enabled him to provide black-market supplies such as black silk nylons, bubble gum, red meat and sugar. The store had a variety of dry goods, notions and collectibles — everything from canned foods and freshly butchered meat to nick-knacks.
According to Mary Warmuth Sathre, "Clark was a character. He would have pictures up of funny things, like a girl with a hoe. He was comical. He was a very nice guy." Two men, named Harvey Hanson and "Ole" Olsen, bought out Clark around 1944. Sathre recalls that the store actually began on one side of the junction and switched sides. It is best remembered on the southeast corner.
Several movie stars are known to have stopped at this famous junction. Letty Dyer Foote, a 16-year-old store clerk at the time, remembers waiting on Noah Beery, Jr. Another well-remembered "movie star sighting" at the junction occurred when Clark Gable came through for lunch with 20 or so of his pals, all of them riding motorcycles and all of them sporting fashionable leather jackets. Mary and Madelyn Warmuth were working for Olive MacDougall at MacDougall's, a restaurant that adjoined the original Solemint Store. Mary recalls, "I was just so busy and it was so much work I didn't have time to look up. After they left, my sister Madelyn asked me if I recognized who I had just waited on. I said no. Who were they?" Mary said her sister asked her why she didn't recognize Clark Gable. Gable and his group were on their way to weekend fun up at Tenopah.
Lifelong area resident George Starbuck recalls that the Solemint Store had a special cooler of ice delivered from the Union Ice Co. On hot summer days, Starbuck would hang out near the cooling tower, which provided some relief while he was sipping his Hires Root Beer Soda, poured from a spigot in the side of a large wooden barrel. Starbuck's first professional job was as a dishwasher in the store at age 12. "I think I lasted about a week doing that," he said.
C.M. MacDougall and his wife, Olive, ran MacDougall’s restaurant. After C.M. MacDougall was appointed judge of the Newhall Municipal Court in the late 1940s, he turned over the restaurant to his nephew, Dick Cone, who with his wife Ruth renamed it the Solemint Café. It was a very popular place to hang out. Whenever the door opened, everyone at the counter turned around to see who was coming in. The hamburger and french-fry fare was always very good. There were also two or three tables to sit at. While customers were munching down their burgers, they could wash them down with a cold beer. People parked their horses outside in front of the establishment. Sathre recalls trying to wait on three busloads of soldiers who all stopped in for burgers and fries.
The junction had no traffic signals — just a four-way stop. In fact, local residents clamored for a signal at the junction and it wasn't until Mr. Vickers was killed that the signal was installed. Sathre estimates that the signal was installed in about 1934 or 1935. She and her sister had fond memories of Mr. Vickers and picking 100 pounds of cherries so he could make a special wine. "Boy, we worked hard picking those cherries," said Sathre, laughing about the adventure. The Solemint Store had everything and people would even drive out from L.A. to buy something special at the store. Melba Fisher worked at the store for about a year earning $1 an hour. The junction was a large employer in the valley at that time. If the store didn't have exactly what the customers wanted, it took special orders and would bring in the merchandise. Fisher lived close enough to the store to walk to work about the time that her son George Starbuck was 15.
On the expanding corner, Dan Bledsoe's Texaco station and the Log Cabin Motel were added. After a fire ravaged the Texaco station, Standard Oil Co. leased the property and built a new service station, known from 1976 to 1982 as Chuck Morey's Chevron (Standard Oil merged into Chevron USA in 1977). Faced with declining retail gasoline sales, Chevron sold its lease rights and the purchasers turned the property into retail complex.
Les's Crossroads Tavern stood at the southwest corner of the junction. Owned by Les Shank, the beer bar served families and entertained its guests with shuffleboard tournaments. Next to the bar was the Signal Oil Gas Station, owned by Bill Oren. Directly behind the station was a restaurant run by Mr. and Mrs. Dempiwolf. She cooked and the old man waited on the people. It is not completely clear but Tom Cox ran a service station on the same corner. It is possible that Mr. Cox was a predecessor owner to Bill Oren, but since some of the older records and community memories are incomplete or unclear, it has not been confirmed exactly which service station belonged to Mr. Cox.
According to Melba Fisher, cowboys used to ride their horses up and leave them in front of the bar. One particular cowboy Fisher recalls was named Baker (his last name). He worked for the Fisher family in the 1940s. He would ride his horse, "Sleepy," up to the restaurant-bar. While Baker was inside taking advantage of the Village Inn's hospitality, Sleepy would stand in front, untied at mute attention waiting to take Baker on the cowboy's long ride home. Sathre couldn't recall any horses at the front of the junction. She said they may have been tied on the side of buildings, but the junction itself was too busy for horses.
The northwest corner in February 1947 saw Azel and Daisy Watkins become the proud and hard-working owners of a restaurant following the retirement of its original owners (their names, and the business name, are unknown). The Watkins renamed their eatery the Mint Canyon Café. The couple ran the diner for only few years.
In the mid-1950s a new store, Dillenbeck Market, opened just north of the junction's northwest corner. It soon became the community's preferred provider of groceries and sundries. The old Solemint Store suffered, ultimately folding in the mid-1960s. In like fashion, Dillenbeck Market eventually started to decline when a competing shopping center opened at Whites Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads. Eastside residents now had a new Safeway Store in the mid- to late 1960s.
But in its early years, Dillenbeck Market was the only local grocery store on the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley to serve residents of the only housing tract on the east side — North Oaks, which started construction in 1961. Dillenbeck served the area until about 1970 when owner Charlie Dillenbeck sold the store and moved to Parker, Ariz. The Dillenbeck building was eventually abandoned and it fell into disrepair; neglect and fire were ultimately outdone in the mid-1990s by a wrecking ball.
The war years saw another restaurant at the northeast corner of the junction: Redwood Village, owned by Irene Ferris Ahlheim. She took over the restaurant in 1948 from Jack Lycett, who had leased the property and had run the Red Barn with his wife, who was in the film industry. The Redwood Village was a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation, where oil workers and their families were fed from 1948 until 1957. Full breakfasts and complete dinners were served. Staffing the restaurant was a difficult chore because, Ahlheim said, "You just couldn't get help in those days." She paid her head waitress $1.50 an hour, a good wage for the time. The restaurant served beer only to patrons who ordered a meal. The restaurant made a profit of about $15 a shift or $45 a day, and more on weekends — a small but tidy sum. Ahlheim bought the home she lives in today, through her hard work in those diner days. By 1951 she had enough for her down payment. She still lives up the canyon some call "Mint."
Ahlheim also recalls when Paramount Studios used her restaurant in the 1955 William Wyler thriller, "The Desperate Hours," starring Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March. Not long ago, Ahleim caught the movie on television and she remembered the thrill of seeing her restaurant preserved on film. The camera showed that the restaurant was framed by a glass front and redwood-paneled walls on the sides and back.
Ahlheim's daughter, Rita Ferris, stirred with excitement at age 16 or 17 when Liberace made a stop at the diner on his way to Las Vegas. Ferris was taking piano lessons at the time, and her encounter with Liberace was like meeting a god. Ferris was quick to collect Liberace's autograph. Next to the restaurant was the Ranch House Bar. According to Irene Ferris Ahlheim, in 1957 a blaze erupted behind her restaurant and burned down both structures. It is believed the fire was started deliberately by a disgruntled patron who had been refused service, but after investigation, the arsonist was never caught. Insurance covered the losses for the Redwood Village Restaurant and the Ranch House Bar.
Down from the Redwood Village Restaurant, where the Canyon Country Fire Station and a trailer park stand today, was a neighborhood park called "Cowboy Park." Country-Western singer Cliffie Stone often performed there with other famous singers on weekends during special community events. While musicians like Stone were strumming and singing, local square dancers were kicking up their heels in checkered skirts and blue jeans. The junction was a happening place to be.

The Solemint Store in the 1930's

1950's post card of the Solemint Store

1962 aerial view of the junction

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Couldn't Fall Asleep

Went to bed around 9:30 PM and felt pretty sleepy, but once I got into bed, I was wide awake. For some reason, while I was lying in bed, I started to think about the rented house Ben and I lived in for the first 3 years we were married. In my mind I started to see the layout of the house, the furniture, etc. and I started thinking about how much energy I had back then. I was in my early 30's, and after working 8 hours each day at Lockheed, I'd come home, fix dinner and then proceed to do my cleaning because I wanted our weekends free. I'd mop the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom, clean the bathroom, empty out the fridge and give it a good scrubbing and dust and vacuum every single week. On the evenings I wasn't doing housework, I'd go out and mow and edge the lawns. I LOVED yard work back then. After my work was done, I'd stay up and watch TV until about 11:00 PM and then hit the sack, get up around 6:00 AM the next morning and start all over again. I remember our neighbor across the street. Her name was Marie and she was in her 80's and she used to tell me that I reminded her of herself when she was young and she used to call me "The Spark Plug". Now I'm lucky if I get the housework done once a month - LOL.
Anyway, I finally decided to get up and come into the computer room and see if maybe going on-line would get me sleepy enough so I can go back to bed and fall asleep.

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #24

November 10th, 1929 - THE GREAT SAUGUS TRAIN ROBBERY - Tom Vernon, a drifter and unemployed ranch hand with a sad background and a criminal record, took it into his head to rob the West Coast Limited as it came around the bend from the Saugus Train station, approaching the Baker Ranch (present day Saugus Speedway). He pulled up the spikes along several yards of track and then waited patiently for the train. At 7:45pm, the train made the bend and toppled off the tracks. Vernon, who fancied calling himself "Buffalo Tom" after his hero "Buffalo" Bill Cody, descended upon the scene at first posing as an employee of the railroad. He then produced a gun and relieved several passengers and crew of their valuables. Afterward, he headed back to Saugus on foot, stole a car from Wood's garage (next to the still-present Saugus Cafe) and hightailed it to Montana. There, he robbed another train with the exact same method . . . right down to accidentally dropping a letter at both scenes with his name on it. This lead police right to Vernon who was given a life sentence at Folsom prison. He was released in 1964, a decrepit old man, and died soon after of syphilis. It was the last California train robbery.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #23

Crown Valley Feud
About the time the great Castaic feud was settling down, another battle erupted in Acton. This one had far-reaching implications that nearly cost a district attorney his job and brought the most famous criminal lawyer of the age, Earl Rogers, to the area.
A great many of the early settlers of Acton were of German descent, from upstate New York. A leading citizen of this frugal, hard-working, well-behaved faction was William Broome — farmer, church deacon, school board member and honorary mayor.
During the 1890s newcomers began to arrive, mostly from the south. Their leader was W.H. Melrose, called "Rosy" by his friends.
Melrose was a big, fun-loving Kentuckian who was addicted to practical jokes, besides being quick on the draw and deadly accurate. He easily ingratiated himself with county officials, and on May 10, 1898, his wife, Flossie A. Melrose, became postmistress.
The trouble seems to have started when Broome's snorting, snarling pit bull attacked Melrose's good-natured dog Llewellyn, prompting Rosy to shoot Broome's offending animal.
Broome had Melrose arrested, but at the trial the local schoolteacher, Minnie Boucher, backed the Kentuckian. Naturally, the German element tried to get Boucher fired. Broome even branded her a "railroad whore." Acton became an armed camp and the schoolmarm was transferred.
On February 28, 1905, Melrose and Broome faced each other on Acton's dusty main street. The guns roared and William Broome dropped with five well-placed bullets in his chest.
The trial was a sensation, with the famous Rogers as counsel for the defense. Before it was over, district attorney Fredericks — a close friend of Melrose's — had been accused of corruption, and Broome's body had been exhumed with a news photographer on hand.
Each of three trials ended in a hung jury. Ultimately the charges were dismissed. But the bad blood remained, and gunshots rang out in the night around Crown Valley for years to come.

Monday, July 13, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #22

The Castaic Range War
The great feud of the Castaic Hills was the most enduring range war in Southern California, so deadly that even a peacemaker appointed by Theodore Roosevelt — the president who won the Nobel Peace Prize — couldn't settle it.
It was triggered by a land dispute, and it didn't end until it had claimed as many as 21 lives. Graves of its possible victims were unearthed as recently as three years ago.
The violent, long-running Jenkins-Chormicle feud, which started in 1890 over a boundary dispute, is a colorful and cruel saga — part fact, part myth — of barn burnings, ambushes and gun battles on horseback. It lasted more than two decades.
Jenkins and Chormicle were two ornery, rough-and-tumble, card-playing patriarchs. One was shot to death in the feud. The other, in spite of the seven bullets in him, died peacefully in bed.
William Wirt Jenkins was 16 when he moved from Ohio to Los Angeles with his family in 1851. His widowed mother had married an Englishman, George Dalton, brother of Henry Dalton, who owned Rancho Azusa.
Five years later, Jenkins had become a deputy constable in the not-so-heavenly City of Angels, which was at the time a tinderbox of racial hatred and mistrust. One day Jenkins was sent to repossess a guitar belonging to Antonio Ruiz, a popular family man. A scuffle broke out, and Jenkins shot Ruiz dead.
Jenkins was jailed to await trial for murder, and the same day a crowd of about 200 Mexicans swarmed the jail to lynch him. In a standoff, the sheriff was wounded but the crowd dispersed.
It took a white jury five minutes to find Jenkins not guilty, and almost immediately, he was mustered into the Los Angeles Rangers, a haphazard volunteer vigilante police force that took off to find the men who had shot the sheriff. They rounded up the mob's leader and eventually let him go.
Jenkins was skilled with guns, horses, cards and a knife. He always wore a vest that covered his sheathed knife. A crafty poker player, he won his best hand — a $1,000-plus pot — on a pair of deuces.
But his big grubstake came when he heard that San Francisco's streets were overrun by millions of rats. He rounded up 100 cats, shipped them north and sold them for almost $100 each.
With his money, he followed fellow former rangers Cyrus and Stanford Lyon to Newhall. The Lyons had already built a stagecoach stop for weary travelers; later it would become a colony of 20 families of teetotalers and finally a cemetery, where a marker stands near the site of the old stagecoach stop.
In Pico Canyon, near Newhall, Jenkins made his first big money as a director of an oil company, along with a friend: future California Sen. Stephen White. But then he turned his attention to land.
In 1872, he staked a claim on a vast section of Castaic Creek and later built a ranch he called the Lazy Z, near the intersection of what is now Lake Hughes and Castaic roads. He married an Illinois woman named Olive Rhodes, who had once been held in the arms of Abraham Lincoln.
They had two daughters. His ranch soon became well known for breeding and training the region's best racehorses.
By 1890, Jenkins had an unwelcome neighbor: William C. "Old Man" Chormicle. He wore two six-guns, swore like a sailor and carried a rifle that he would one day use to pierce one man's heart and another's liver.
Jenkins had already feuded briefly with the new settlers who were coming into the area, but he and Chormicle set the scene for nearly two decades of gunfire and conflict.
Chormicle said he had bought 1,600 acres from the railroads — the same land that Jenkins ranched. Jenkins said his claim took precedence, and sent out three of his men to tear down Chormicle's shack and put up a ranch house.
Unarmed, the three men drove two wagonloads of lumber to Chormicle's shack. Chormicle and a friend opened fire on both wagons. Two of the men fell, fatally wounded. The third, Jose Olme, dropped to the ground and grabbed a horse's harness. He used the two fleeing horses as a shield, running alongside as bullets flew. A good distance away, both horses dropped dead and Olme hid in the nearby rocks.
Ten days later, Chormicle and his friend turned themselves in. They both pleaded self-defense over property rights and were acquitted. That the law had sided with Chormicle infuriated Jenkins, and the feud was on in earnest.
Jenkins and Chormicle picked up their guns over every road building, mining claim and grazing and water issue. Women and children were off limits, though one girl was accidentally killed in crossfire.
Chormicle revealed the depth of the men's hatred in a lawsuit over grazing rights. Asked whether he had threatened to kill a particular man, Chormicle replied: "I don't think it was like threatening to kill him. I told him that if he interfered with the girl driving the cattle, I would take some of the boys down with a rope and hang him."
In 1895, the federal government was virtually giving away swampland. The condition: You had to survey it by boat. Jenkins was angling to get more land by any means, so he set out to claim land between his ranch and the area where Magic Mountain now stands.
To "prove" it was swamp — which it wasn't — Jenkins mounted a boat on wheels and had it pulled by a big, black horse. Several ranchers, Chormicle included, saw this and exposed the scheme. Jenkins was furious when his attempt to swindle the government out of the land was thwarted.
A decade later, President Teddy Roosevelt appointed Robert Emmett Clark a U.S. forest ranger. Clark's first assignment was to intimidate the combatants into laying down their arms. It worked — but only until 1913, when Clark left Castaic.
After Clark's departure, a man working for Chormicle blasted Jenkins in the chest in the doorway of his Lazy Z ranch house. Jenkins, by then almost 80, survived. In 1916, not long after Jenkins recovered from his wounds, Chormicle was shot to death; the locals blamed Jenkins.
Some time later, Jenkins went to drive cattle off what he said was his land, and a Chormicle ally who was herding the cattle shot the old man. Again he survived.
Finally, in 1919, Jenkins — 84 years old and carrying around seven bullets — died of an illness while visiting friends in Los Angeles, where his body was cremated.
In 1998, almost 80 years later, human remains in pine boxes — an infant and four adult men, buried in Jenkins' long-forgotten family cemetery — were unearthed by workers building a housing development in Castaic. They were perhaps the last victims of the range war.
Ironically, much of the land disputed so long and so bloodily now lies 100 feet below the waters backed up behind Castaic Dam.

W. W. Jenkins

Sunday, July 12, 2009

History Of Santa Clairta Valley, CA #21

The town of Ravenna
It is unlikely that any more than a few dozen people ever lived in the little mining town of Ravenna at any one time, but the town nonetheless sported a full train station. It was located four miles southwest of Acton in Soledad Canyon -- and 430 miles southeast of San Francisco, as the sign in this c. 1900 photograph points out.
A number of miners, most notably Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell, arrived in Soledad Canyon in 1860 and set up various mining camps near the canyon's rich veins of gold, silver and copper, which came into great demand when the Civil War broke out only a year later. Local historian Jerry Reynolds writes:
A conglomeration of log cabins and tents moved up and down the canyon with each new strike. Called "Soledad City" wherever it was plunked down, it provided such basic needs as faro tables, rye whiskey, and ladies of the evening. A portable grocery was operated by James O'Reilly, a flaming-haired Irishman of medium build, pug nose, and happy-go-lucky air about him.
It wasn't long before a post office was needed, and as one might expect, the U.S. Postal Service rejected the name "Soledad City" out of fear that it would be confused with the city of Soledad in Monterey County. O'Reilly suggested the name "Ravenna," in honor of the local merchant and saloonkeeper, Manuel Ravenna. The name became official on June 12, 1868.
Ravenna became a shipping point from which gold, silver, copper and other minerals were hauled off to the port at San Pedro. Freight wagons drawn by oxen or mules were used at first; they gave way to railcars after the first steam locomotives chugged through the canyon in 1876. While strip mining is still a big industry in the Soledad and in parts of the neighboring Mojave Desert, the little mining camp of Ravenna -- and its rather sizable train station -- are nothing more than faded memories.

Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell

The town of Ravenna

Saturday, July 11, 2009

History Of The Santa Clarita Valley, CA #20

Near the Santa Clarita Valley – Fillmore, CA
Fillmore was founded in 1888 by Jerome A. Fillmore, General Superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad. On August 1, 1888, a street map of the town of Fillmore was recorded in the Ventura County Courthouse. By 1900 Fillmore had a population of 150. The first schoolhouse was built in 1874. It was 20 by 30 feet (6.1 by 9.1 meters) with three windows on each side. The first graduating class of Fillmore High School was in 1911 with four students. 1889 saw the first commercial orange grove planted in Fillmore. During the “orange rush” of 1897, the Fillmore Citrus Fruit Association was formed and would eventually become Sunkist Growers. Fillmore’s first orange packing house was built at the corner of Sespe Avenue and A Street, on property purchased for $50 (sources: Fillmore Chamber of Commerce and Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau).
Fillmore still has a kind of small-town atmosphere which is becoming increasingly rare in suburbanized Ventura County. The farms of nearby Bardsdale, as well as the town's relatively remote location away from the sprawl of the West and South parts of the County, have helped preserved this atmosphere.

Early days in Fillmore. Center photo is the
founder of the town Jerome A. Fillmare
Fillmore's city hall today

Drive to Bakersfield, CA

We took a drive up to Bakersfield, CA today. No reason, just wanted to get out of the house. We drove over by Buck Owens' Crystal Palace and then around Old Town. Here are a few photos of some of the sites.

The Bakersfield Arch

The Big Shoe - actual shoe repair shop

Retro theater downtown

Friday, July 10, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #19

Near the Santa Clarita Valley – Piru, CA
The area was originally inhabited by the Tataviam Indians. They left information about themselves chiseled into and painted on rocky overhangs and secreted caves throughout the local mountains. By all accounts a peaceful tribe, the Tataviam were christianized under the San Fernando Mission. Later they worked on large Spanish ranchos such as Rancho Camulos.
The name Piru (originally pronounced /piːru/ "pee-roo") is derived from the Tataviam language word for the tule reeds growing along Piru Creek that were used in making baskets.
The town was founded in 1887 by David C. Cook, a wealthy publisher of Sunday School tracts and supplies from Elgin, Illinois, who wanted to establish a "Second Garden of Eden" in this part of the Santa Clara River Valley. He specified, tradition says, that the acreage be planted with fruits identified with the Biblical garden—apricots, dates, figs, grapes, olives and pomegranates. That same year, Cook built his first home, a Colonial Revival structure, at the southwest corner of Main and Center Streets.
The Postal Service established the post office at Piru in 1888. Legend has it that the pronunciation was changed by conductors of Southern Pacific Railroad trains, who would shout out, "Pie-roo!" when pulling into town. Another story tells of a Piru restaurant known for good pies. The owner hung a sign proclaiming, "We Put The Pie In Piru."
In 1890, Cook built a lavish Queen Anne Style home a few blocks northwest of his original home, which came to be known as the Piru Mansion. A strict Methodist, he provided for construction of a church on the north side of Center Street, just west of Main. His home at Main and Center became the Piru Hotel.
For her novel Ramona (1884), Helen Hunt Jackson had used nearby Rancho Camulos as one of the settings. Portions of the 1910 silent movie, Ramona, starring Mary Pickford were shot there. During the production, Pickford, D.W. Griffith and others of the cast and crew, stayed at the Piru Hotel. The hotel later became known as the Mountain View Hotel. The name was later changed to the Round Rock Hotel, because of a large, round boulder located in the northeast corner of the front yard.
Juan José Fustero (b. ca. 1836), who called himself "the last full-blooded Piru Indian," died on June 30, 1921. In 1961, a plaque to honor him was placed in Piru Canyon near the place where he lived most of his life.
On December 17, 1922, Jenks Harris, a would-be cowboy actor, and a gang of partners in crime, robbed the bank in Piru of $11,000. He said, when later caught in Los Angeles, that he conceived of the idea while on location at Piru with the film company Universal.
In the 1950s, the Round Rock Hotel became the Round Rock Rest Home for elderly tenants, which it remained until 1989. It is now the Heritage Valley Inn.

The Piru Mansion

The Piru Train Station
The Heritage Inn originally named the Piru
Hotel and then later the Round Rock Hotel

Thursday, July 9, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #18

The Ridge Route (Historic California 99)
The Ridge Route Highway is that section of road that winds over the San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains between Castaic Junction on the south (where I-5 junctions with Hwy. 126 to Ventura) and extends to the bottom of Grapevine Grade on the north where I-5 enters the great San Joaquin Valley. The "Grapevine" is the 6 1/2 mile segment of the Ridge Route that extends from Fort Tejon to the bottom of Grapevine Grade. Many people erroneously believe that the "Grapevine" got its name because the original 1915 highway had a series of "switchbacks" which allowed early vehicles to gain elevation as they climbed the grade heading from Bakersfield toward Los Angeles. The serpentine path resembled a giant grapevine. Although this observation was true, the name actually came from the fact that early wagoners had to hack their way through thick patches of Cimarron grapevines that inhabited "La Canada de Las Uvas," Canyon of the Grapes. Traveling the grade today, look for patches of what appears to be ivy on both sides of the canyon near the truck run-a-way escape ramps. What you see are descendant vines, which date back to the 1800s. The news media Incorrectly refers to the entire Ridge Route as the Grapevine. There have been three Ridge Route highways. The 1915 highway, the 1933 three-lane Ridge Alternate Highway identified as Highway 99 (in 1947 converted to a 4-lane expressway); and today's 8-lane I-5 freeway completed in 1970. The Ridge Alternate was severed with the construction of Pyramid Dam.
Construction began on the Ridge Route in 1910. At this time, Beale's Cut was bypassed by the Newhall Highway Tunnel. Newhall also changed quite a bit then. From 1878 to 1910, Railroad Avenue was the main highway through town. In 1910, the Ridge Route took the straighter alignment of Spruce Street instead of Railroad Avenue. Due to this change, all of the businesses moved onto the new main street.
In late 1915, the Ridge Route was opened to Bakersfield. It was only oiled and graded at this time. This was the segment that gave the Ridge Route its name. The official name for the Ridge Route was the "Castaic - Tejon Route" as it went to the San Joaquin Valley via Tejon Pass. The highway winds over the ridge line hence the nickname, Ridge Route.
Starting in 1917 and ending in early 1920, the Ridge Route was finally paved with a twenty-foot wide slab of reinforced concrete four inches thick. It was later widened with asphalt in the mid 1920's. Many of the deep cuts and tight curves were day lighted, or widened in the inside of the curve to enhance sight distance within the turn, during this time as well.
The highway was notorious for its many and usually dangerous curves. If all of the curves were to be added together, they would make 110 complete circles. Many died along the highway as a result of it being narrow and windy. It was finally bypassed in 1933 by the Ridge Route Alternate (new US 99) but was still used by a few hardy travelers.

Historic photo of one of the hotels along the old
Ridge Route.

Another stop along the old route

Dead-Man's Curve - Historic Ridge Route

The Hwy. 99 portion of the old Rigdge Route
as it looks today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have no water at my house today.
We live in a gated community of manufactured homes that sit on foundations and there are about 400 homes in our community. This morning after my walk I came home to fix my breakfast only to find that there was no water when I tried to use the kitchen sink.
I called our community office and Marcie (the receptionist there) said that there is a "major" problem and that she could not say when the water might be back on and that her phone was ringing off the hook.
I jumped into my car and drove around the community and saw where the workers have a huge hole dug over near our recreation facility and that they have all of the fire hydrants open to release the water out of all of the underground pipes.
My guess is that we have a break in a main water pipeline somewhere under our streets. This is not good and who knows when we may have running water again.

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #17

Ft. Tejon
Fort Tejon is located in the Grapevine Canyon, the main route between California's great central valley and Southern California. The fort was established to protect and control the Indians who were living on the Sebastian Indians Reservation, and to protect both the Indians and white settlers from raids by the wide-ranging and rather warlike Paiutes, Chemeheui, Mojave, and other Indian groups of the desert regions to the southeast. Fort Tejon was first garrisoned by the United States Army on August 10, 1854 and was abandoned ten years later on September 11, 1864.
The Native Americans who lived in this area prior to the establishment of Fort Tejon are generally referred to as the Emigdiano. They were an inland group of the Chumash people who lived along the Santa Barbara channel coastline. Unlike their coastal relatives, however, the Emigdiano avoided contact with European explorers and settlers, and were never brought into one of the missions or even incorporated into the Sebastian Indian Reservation. One of their villages was located at Tecuya Creek, north of Castaic Lake. Another village, Sasau, was on the north shore of the lake, while a third and still larger village, Lapau, was located at the bottom of Grapevine Canyon. Once Fort Tejon was established, the Emigdiano often worked as independent contractors for the army, providing guides for bear hunts and delivering fresh fruits from their fields for sale in officers row.
In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed Edward F. Beal to the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada, and sent him to California to head off further confrontation between the Indians and the many gold seekers and other settlers who were the pouring into California. After studying the situation, Beale decided that the best approach was to set up a large Indian reservation at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and to invite displaced Indian groups to settle there.
In order to implement his plan, Beale requested a federal appropriation of $500,000 and military support for the 75,000 acre reservation he had selected at the foot of Tejon Pass. Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commander of the Pacific Division of the U.S. Army, supported Beale's plan and agreed to set up a military post on or near the Indian reservation. The army was eager, in any case, to abandon Fort Miller (near Fresno) in favor of a more strategically advantageous site in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
In August 1854, Major J.L. Donaldson, a quartermaster officer, chose the present site in Canada de las Uvas. The site was handsome and promised adequate wood and water, It was just 17 miles southwest of the Sebastian Indian Reservation, and it was right on what Major Donaldson was convinced would become the main route between the central valley and Southern California.
The Fort Tejon earthquake occurred at about 8:20 AM (Pacific time) on January 9, 1857. It ruptured the San Andreas Fault for a length of about 350 kilometers (225 miles), between Parkfield and San Bernardino. Displacement along the fault was as much as 9 meters (30 feet) in the Carrizo Plain but less along the Palmdale section of the fault, closest to Los Angeles. The amount of fault slip gives this earthquake a moment magnitude of 7.9, comparable to that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Based on the (uncertain) distribution of foreshocks for this earthquake, it is assumed that the beginning of the fault rupture (the epicenter) was in the area between Parkfield and Cholame, about 60 miles northwest. Nevertheless, it is usually called the "Fort Tejon" earthquake because this was the location of the greatest damage, most of the area being unpopulated at the time.
Only two fatalities were recorded as a result of this earthquake, one was a woman who was killed by a collapsing adobe house at Reed's Ranch (Gorman), very close to the fault. Most of the buildings at Fort Tejon were badly damaged and several people were injured. Some buildings in Los Angeles were cracked but no major damage was reported. In Ventura the roof of Mission San Buenaventura fell in and the bell tower collapsed. Ground cracks from liquefaction of swampy ground were observed in Los Angeles and near Oxnard. The earthquake was felt as far south as the mouth of the Colorado River, as far north as Marysville and as far east as Las Vegas.

Historic Marker at Ft. Tejon

Civil War reenactment (Confederate Army)

Civil War reenactment (Union Army)

One of the buildings still standing at Ft. Tejon

Confederate Cannons at Ft. Tejon

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nethercutt Auto Museum - Sylmar, CA

Ben and I went over to the Nethercutt Auto Museum in Sylmar, CA this morning. If you'd like to view all of my photos, check them out at:

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #16

The Town Of Newhall, CA
It was sometime in the year of 1878 that the first shovel full of dirt was dug for the foundation of the Southern Hotel in the newly laid-out town of Newhall, California. Near Newhall and about 35 miles north from Los Angeles, the Southern Pacific Railroad had but recently completed the long San Francisco Tunnel for its rail line to San Francisco. The locomotive, passenger and freight, had superseded the stage but a short time; while the freight wagon, with twelve to twenty horses pulling it and several trailers, was partly eliminated. Yet the Haskell stage line operated stages between Newhall and Santa Barbara in the 1880s.
Mr. D.W. Field soon had a general store as well as the hotel in operation. There were seasons during the elusive five years when he shipped more wheat from Newhall Rancho than was moved from any other town or center in California. One of the most impressive visions one can imagine was a waving, undulating, mighty field of wheat all headed out, 15,000 acres in extent. Then the general store where every shelf was an inspiration, each article of dazzling beauty and wonder.
It was usual in those days for Mexicans, white men and Indians to purchase goods and pay in gold dust or nuggets taken from a buckskin pouch. Most of this gold looked like crushed grains of yellow wheat. It came from Placerita Canyon, just over the low range of hills and across the railroad tracks from Newhall. Some people maintain that this was the discovery point of gold in California. Today gold panning can still be carried on in Placerita Canyon with real good results.
Placerita Canyon was a paradise in the springtime with manzanita and yucca blossoms on white shafts, and wild cherry, sage and chaparral. There were yellow, white and red poppies, too. Here the miners used picks, shovels and pans before the summer heat dried up the winter streams. Today, we still roam some of the areas, but there were wild areas where you could hunt game.
Henry Mayo Newhall of San Francisco owned this paradise. The Newhall and adjoining San Francisquito Ranchos comprised many thousand of acres in those days. He also had the Suey Rancho and the Todo Santos near Santa Maria, the Pijo Rancho and the Santa Miguelito towards the ocean from Salinas and King City. Each of these made almost a small empire, and the cattle, wheat and products made him a generous profit, except in the dry years.
At Newhall, the Pico Canyon oil field was old and established in 1880 to 1883. A pipeline was run from the oil fields to the Newhall refinery. George Campton conducted another general store in Newhall in 1880. Mike and John Powell ran the largest saloon. It was whispered that they had been slave traders in the south before the Civil War. It was said the people in those days shivered and exulted over that disclosure.
Johnny Gifford was the station agent at the depot, and John Webber the most liked conductor on the train running to Los Angeles. During those years, this big mustached man became a police commissioner in Los Angeles, and quite a power in politics. He was really the ideal of all the Newhall citizens who had their first ride on the train to the city of Los Angeles. This city [Los Angeles], by the way, had then but sixteen thousand inhabitants.
Murder was almost a common thing in the early days. A poke of gold and a smile from a señorita was enough to urge the drawing of a glistening blade, the quick fire of a six-gun or perhaps a cap and ball pistol. Many a wicked glance had been beheld as the gold was weighed on the scales at the Newhall store, or as a señorita flashed her smile at occasional dancers. Often the young rancheros and miners took their girls to San Fernando for these festivities, or the San Fernando people would come to Newhall.
It was about this time too that Tiburcio Vasquez, the highwayman, was gaining his unsavory but romantic reputation in Southern California.
In 1883, Mr. Ben Field went for a visit, by invitation of Mr. Seals, owner of Borax Lake, to the famous deserted stronghold of mining and industry. Proceeding from the Mojave by buckboard, he stopped for one night at the Coyote Hole station and camp. His heart quickened when the many bullet holes in the walls and doors were pointed out to him.
"What made them?" he asked the kindly frontier wife.
"Vasquez," she replied. "He held us up and took all the money we had."
The next day they proceeded to their destination, passing twenty mule teams loaded with borax along the barren desert roads. Borax Lake was a very active mining center. A few miles away were gushing fresh water springs, trout flashed in the pools and fruit trees were growing.
Now, in 1989, in Placerita Canyon, where once the gentle fawn and scurrying rabbits and quail beheld men and women bent over their gold pans at the stream banks, black gold is pumped from the earth, and a park is there.
The lazy and happy "mañana" is no more. Old California is almost forgotten but it is sometimes revived with tale and song. Helen Hunt Jackson penned her "Ramona" and has immortalized the story, bringing championship to the wronged and downtrodden Indians of the Southwest. I can almost see her seated at the window of the old Belleview Terrace Hotel that was torn down some time ago on the site of the present Jonathan Club building at the northwest corner of Figueroa and Sixth streets in Los Angeles. There she wrote those immortal lines, which were a romance of the Camulos Rancho.
All of these seems very vital and interesting to me, because in the old Newhall days people were urged to go to the Camulos Rancho about twenty miles northward. Here, at the home of the kindly and hospitable Del Valles, Ramona was born and raised. Here, Alessandro loved her and from here he took her away. It was not so many years since Friar Junipero Serra had trod his road past Camulos to Santa Barbara and beyond. He and his little band of Franciscans would rest for the night at this hacienda. Besides the Señor and the Señora Del Valle was Maria, the beautiful daughter, and Reginaldo, the gallant elder son who later became Senator Del Valle, and still later, one of the head men in the great Los Angeles and Owens Valley aqueduct enterprises.
Ah, yes, we would like to go back again to those dear old California days, marked now on the padres' El Camino Real by signpost and bell and cross. They lend an inspiration to the impetus of building the West in the days of old and the days of gold.

This building was the original jail house of Newhall

Original and still operational Newhall Ice Company

Queen Of Angeles Chapel which was the local
Catholic church and part of the Mission San
Fernando Parish. The adobe still stands and
still holds mass.

Original site of the old Newhall blacksmith shop