Day 3 – ACA Pre-Rally – Hart Ranch (Valencia Travel Village, CA)

Sunday was yet another great Alpine Coach Pre-Rally day full of activities!



After another fine breakfast, once again courtesy of our hosts (Tris and Carolyn Swan) and co-hosts (Joel and Mary Langord), our group gathered outside the campground activities building (where we have all our meals) to convoy over to the William S. Hart Park and Museum and the Heritage Junction Historic Park.  (Click on names to see the respective websites for details on these attractions)

Helena Mazzocco, along with her husband, Bob, gave us a briefing on the days planned activity.  They live nearby, and Helena was kind enough to set up our tour(s) for the day.  We first met Bob and Helena a few years ago at our very first Alpine Coach rally in St George, UT.  They even stopped by our house in Colorado Springs for a quick visit a couple years ago when they were passing through.  Of course, we’ve seen them again at several other venues since then as well.  Although, they didn’t join us with their Coach this time at the Pre-Rally, they took the time to set up today’s tour for us and arrived today in their car.

Bob & Helena Mazzocco giving us a briefing on the days planned activity.

It took us about 15 minutes to make the 10 mile trip.  Our first tour was the Heritage Junction Historic Park which is co-located  with the William S. Hart Park & Museum.  Both of these attractions are free of charge.


We all gathered in the train station to get an orientation from one of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society volunteers.


Informational Placard on the Saugus Train Station

The Historical Society website provided the following information on the Saugus Train Station which is also summarized on the informational placard above:

When the Golden Spike was driven at Lang in 1876, tying together Los Angeles to San Francisco, and, in turn, the continent-spanning Union Pacific, it signaled an irreversible change in the lifestyle of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Saugus Train Station opened eleven years later on September 1, 1887 when the spur line to Ventura was completed by Southern Pacific Railroad.
In order to accommodate hungry travelers, Tolefree’s Saugus Eating House was established at the north end of the depot. It was taken over by Martin and Richard Wood in 1898, who changed the name to The Saugus Cafe. By 1905 more room was needed for additional storage of freight at the Station, so the cafe moved across the tracks, where it stands today.

Cowboys would occasionally shoot up the Station as their way of greeting the trains. There were robberies, too, the most famous being the night in 1929 when “Buffalo” Tom Vernon derailed and looted Engine Number 59.

President Benjamin Harrison stopped over in April, 1891, and Theodore Roosevelt was met by Governor Henry T. Gage here in 1903.

The last passenger train that stopped at the Station during April, 1971 and the last freight train was discontinued in 1979. The depot was closed on November 15, 1978 by the last Agent, Mr. James Guthrie. Through a massive community effort, the building was saved and moved on June 24, 1980 to its present location on land leased from Los Angeles Country within William S. Hart Park.

The Saugus Station has been featured in a number of motion pictures, television shows, music videos and commercials. Films include “The Pilgrim” (1919) with Charlie Chaplin, “Suddenly” (1954) starring Frank Sinatra, and most recently “The Grifters” (1989) starring Angelica Huston and John Cusack, and many student projects for area film schools.

Then they set us loose in the mini-museum and gift shop located inside the restored train station.










Then we viewed the Mitchell Schoolhouse Adobe building that was directly across from the train station.  This is one of the seven or so buildings that the Historical Society have acquired, moved, and restored here.



The Historical Society website reiterates the informational placard seen above:

Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, moved a miner’s shack to Soledad and Sand Canyons in 1860 where he lived and headquartered his 160-acre ranch. After he married Martha Catherine Taylor in 1865, he constructed a large adobe, using parts of the miner’s shack.
After the Colonel had increased his holdings to 1,000 acres, Martha began the Sulphur Springs School in 1872, with classes being held regularly in the kitchen of the adobe. It moved to the Lang Hotel and Spa in 1879. The first students were from the Mitchell, Stewart and Lang families. In 1886, a regular school was built by John Lang and Sanford Lyon on land donated by the Mitchells.

By 1919, the old adobe had fallen into ruin, but was salvaged by the Colonel’s son-in-law, Walter Murphy. He used the remaining adobe bricks to erect a home for the ranch foreman. It later served as a guest house, apiary and tack room until it was destroyed by developers on August 14, 1986. What remained was moved to Heritage Junction, dedicated on November 5, 1989, and has been restored.

The adobe was originally 45 x 60 feet, and made of clay dug from a layer deep in a hand-dug well. The roof was covered with either split redwood shake or a very thin cedar shake. It had a wooden floor constructed of light-colored wainscoting.




This building, the NewHall Ranch House was closed today because film students from a local college were filming.


The Historical Society website provides the following information on this building:

Rancho San Francisco was established by Franciscan padres late in the 18th century, where they built a sub-mission, or asistencia, at Castaic Junction in 1804. The 48,612 acres were granted to the Del Valle family 35 years later. William Wolfskill, a renowned vintner and orchard owner purchased the acreage following the 1857 earthquake. Thomas R. Bard bought the property in 1865, acting as an agent for his uncle, Col. Thomas A. Scott. He may have erected the first structure, a small house with a basement.
Henry M. Newhall bought the place at a Sheriff’s sale in 1875. He had the financial backing to make improvements, but the main, two-story front portion was probably ordered by his son, Gregory, in 1893. Gregory spent more time here than other family members. After his death in 1903, a younger brother, Walter Scott Newhall, visited often until he passed away in 1906. The house then became the ranch foreman’s residence. It was severely damaged during the 1971 earthquake, but repaired.

With a grant from the City of Santa Clarita, the house was moved to Heritage Junction during the nights of August 14 and 15, 1990.

This two-story, stick Victorian house with gabled roof and 8′ wide veranda on three sides began as a shed-like structure built over a brick cellar. The original portion now houses the kitchen and was made with hand-hammered, square nails and rough-hewn redwood.

The larger, gabled portion is also constructed of redwood, including its hand-chiseled, wooden gutters. The interior had been greatly modified, with its 14′ ceilings lowered. It had three to four fireplaces, and wrought-iron registers for heat. The entire home is approximately 4,000 square feet, and is said to be haunted by several spirits of the past.


After touring around the train station and adjacent area, we wandered up the roadway to the next collection of buildings where we gathered again for guided tours.


The Historical Society volunteers broke us up into smaller, more manageable groups.




Our (now smaller) group started the guided portion of our tour with the Edison House.  

According to the Historical Society webpage:

This house was one of a group of cottages built by the Southern California Edison Company to house employees in 1919 when the Newhall substation was opened. It was moved west of Saugus in 1925 when the “new” substation was completed and five other homes were built of identical design. Assistant Edison Patrolman Raymond Starbard occupied it and was credited as being the first to spread the alarm of the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster. The cottages were sold to Newhall Land and Farming Company on January 17, 1972.

The cottage was donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and moved to Heritage Junction on January 18, 1989. The other houses were burned by the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a training exercise.

Architecturally significant, not only for their Swiss-Germanic Style, but for being unmodified, this single family residence has a shingled, gabled roof, clapboard siding, and hardwood floors.


We saw a picture of Multnomah Falls hanging in the living room.  We visited this place in August of last year.



Even though we broke down into smaller groups, it was still pretty cramped in the little house.




It looks like these tour members lost their group… or maybe they lost interest… hmmm.









Next, we toured the Kingsburry Residence.

According to the Historical Society webpage:

This home was originally built in 1878, and was located at 8th and San Fernando Road. It was occupied by Lyman Stewart in 1883, who later formed the Union Oil Co.
August Ferrier bought the house in 1911, moved the structure to Walnut Street, and leased it to the Young family. Julia H. Young owned and managed the drug store, and was voted Queen of the first Newhall Rodeo. Ted Kornelissen, a native-born Dutchman who became the local mailman, bought the property from Ferrier. He then sold it to Ruth and Charles Kingsburry in 1943. Charles was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. He helped build the powerhouse in San Francisquito Canyon and operated a meat market in Newhall. “Uncle Charlie,” as he was usually called, aided widows and was a coach in the Masonic Order.

In 1987, the home was purchased by local Realtor Jim Droz and dentist Alan Fine and donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. It was moved to its present location in July of 1987.

The Kingsburry House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of colonial-revival style that has not been modified, with the exception of two additions at the rear: one to enclose the kitchen and indoor bathroom, and a second for a service area and additional bedroom. The house originally consisted of a living room, dining area and two bedrooms. Cooking was probably done outside on a back porch. It has a pyramid-shaped roof and shed porch.


Tight quarters again…












The Callahan School House was next on the tour:

Constructed in 1927 by Robert E. Callahan for his Mission Village in Culver City, this building was used as a tourist attraction and movie set. In 1963 the area of the Mission Village was paved to form the Santa Monica Freeway, forcing Mr. Callahan to move the structure to Mint Canyon, where it was converted into a school house to hold desks, a blackboard, and a lectern which came from Vallejo, California, and dating back to 1858.

The Callahan School House was donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society by Mrs. Marion Callahan (Kitty Kelley) and moved to its present location in April, 1987.

This building is clapboard with a wood shingle roof and an overhanging, triangular- shaped porch. Not architecturally significant, it does however represent small schools used in mining camps and frontier settlements during the late 19th Century in the American West. Restoration was completed under the direction of Cathe Daley as a Girl Scout project in 1992.


We definitely wouldn’t fit in here as a group.


And then came the Ramona Chapel:

Designed by Carrie Jacobs Bond, composer of “The End of a Perfect Day,” “I Love You Truly,” and other songs, this chapel was based on the one at Rancho Camulos made famous in Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel, Ramona. From 1926 until 1962, it was the centerpiece of Robert E. Callahan’s Mission Village in Culver City.

Mrs. Marion Callahan (Kitty Kelley) states that her late husband assembled bits and pieces of old churches, some as old as 200 years. However, the guide book for the Village describes the “. . . altar made from ruins of 200-year-old mission.” The 48 cup brass candelabra was donated by Mrs. Bond. Here Gary Cooper was inducted into the Sioux Nation. John Wayne used it as a movie set, and the chapel was visited by Wyatt Earp, Will Rogers, Joan Crawford, and many other stars.

In 1963, the area of the Mission Village was paved to form the Santa Monica Freeway, forcing Mr. Callahan to move to Mint Canyon. Mrs. Callahan donated the Chapel to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, and it was moved to its present location at Heritage Junction in 1987.




After we finished up our tours, we all joined up again on Main Street.


Helena Mazzocco gave us our walking directions to get to our next destination; the William S. Hart Park & Museum.


But, before we left the Heritage Junction Historic Park, we had to stop behind the train station to view the locomotive…


The Historical Society website tells us: This Mogul Engine 1629 is a class M4 engine weighing 75 tons, with wheels 2-6-0.  It was built in Schenectady, New York, in 1900, and purchased by Southern Pacific Railroad for use on the line which ran from Yuma, Arizona to Portland, Oregon, passing through the Santa Clarita Valley.

In 1957, it was retired and sold to Western actor, Gene Autry, who used it in films at his Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon.  It appeared in such television series as “Gunsmoke” and “Wyatt Earp.”  Autry donated the locomotive in 1981 to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, and it was moved to its present location next to the Saugus Station using donated funds in 1982, where it is being restored as a static display.


Of course, we had to take turns playing engineer.  And yes, the bell rings…





After playing with the locomotive, we started our trek over to the Hart Ranch.  First stop before we walked up the hill to the mansion, was the Ranch House.



Then we walked up the hill on a trail.


Along the trail, we passed by the Bunk House.  It was closed up and the windows were shuttered.


Near the top of the hill we stopped to view the bison.





And finally, we made it to the top.


Here’s the entrance door for the tour of the house.  The website gives the following information:

Entrance to the Hart Museum Mansion, located at the top of the hill in William S. Hart Park, is by guided tour only. Free tours are offered every 30 minutes during the Museum’s hours of operation. The tours start on the hour and half-hour. Visitors are asked to park their vehicles in the lots near the entrance to the Park, walk up the hill to the Hart Mansion, and kindly wait outside the front door until the start of the next tour. The guides will open the door and invite the guests inside.



We waited outside the mansion for our tour guide as instructed.


Check out this link for biographical information on actor William S. Hart.

The informational brochure tells us he was the first cowboy movie star and made movies from 1914 to 1925.  When he retired he moved to Horseshoe ranch in Newhall, California, and built his home, La Loma de los Vientos (the Hill of the Winds).  Hart’s home is now a museum filled with his personal effects and movie paraphernalia along with Native American artifacts and Western American art.  Free docent-led tours of the home take place Wednesday through Sunday.

Here’s inside the entrance of the mansion.



Our guide told us that all the furnishings and decor are original and untouched.




























What a great house!… I think I’ll buy two of them 🙂  Another “must-see!”

We stopped at the gift shop which was conveniently located at the bottom of the trail when we got back down the hill.



We didn’t see any souvenir’s we couldn’t live without.

We finished up our tour for the day and headed over to the Claim Jumper Saloon and Restaurant for a late lunch.  Once again, good food and good people to enjoy it with!

On the way back to the campground, Stilla checked her iPhone for attractions near us, and found that the Paul Walker Crash Site was along our return route.  So we did a quick drive-by after letting the iPhone app guide us to the location near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, Santa Clarita, CA.  Some of you may recall, that actor, Paul Walker, of ‘Fast and Furious‘ fame, died in November of 2013 in a fiery car crash.  The only evidence of the accident that we saw; were a couple of painted rocks set alongside the road with “R.I.P. Paul Walker” written on them.

We arrived back at the Valencia Travel Village with just enough time to prepare for our Pot Luck dinner.


Here we are heading off to our activity building again for another meal… Moooo…









The pot luck dinner was awesome as usual… us Alpiner’s sure know how to eat 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the tour 🙂

Our destination for Monday is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. We’re supposed to get a catered meal under the wings of Air Force One.  Check back soon…




One thought on “Day 3 – ACA Pre-Rally – Hart Ranch (Valencia Travel Village, CA)”

  1. Wow!! I would have Loved to have been there!! Look at all the original antiques!! Im putting this on my places to go one day list.

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