Richard E. Nickel was 31 years old when he pulled into the tiny Acton train station for the first time
on Oct. 11, 1887. He became the town's second resident — second only to his father-in-law, an entrepreneur named John F. Duehren,
who had built the '49er Saloon in 1870 to serve the miners and prospectors of the nearby canyons in the northeastern
Santa Clarita Valley.
Soon known as the "Father of Acton," Nickel was instrumental in establishing most of the amenities a small frontier town would need. Employed as an
agent for the Acton station, he built a general store with his family residence above, and became the first Acton
postmaster when he moved the Soledad Post Office into his store on Jan. 24, 1888. On July 15, 1891, Nickel
published the first edition of the first Santa Clarita Valley-based newspaper, The Acton Rooster, which came out on the 15th
of each month for 22 years. On Nov. 2, 1891, Nickel established the valley's first water company, Acton
Water Works. In March of 1900, Nickel was appointed port warden of San Francisco Harbor by his friend, California Governor
Henry T. Gage, who had interests in a number of famous gold mines near Acton. Nickel left town but continued to publish the Acton Rooster from
afar. He died in 1922.
In 1890, Nickel completed his Acton Hotel, a lavish, two-story Victorian structure with a loft. Governor Gage entertained
several political allies at the hotel, most notably Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert C. Hoover, as well as the King of
Spain and attorney Earl Rogers. The hotel mysteriously burned to the ground on Friday night, Oct. 19, 1945.