Saugus in the 1960s wasn't the fist time — or even the first place — Robert E. Callahan sold "good luck charm" tokens as souvenirs at one of his tourist traps.
Foreshadowing the tokens from his Old West Trading Post in Saugus, Callahan issued these tokens in the late 1950s or early 1960s as mementoes of his Mission Village in Culver City.
Brass or aluminum alloy, 28mm, coin orientation. Kappen: Los Angeles 764.
Robert E. Callahan's Old West Trading Post, aka Indian Village, at 13660 Sierra Highway in "Outlaw Canyon" was the equivalent of an amusement park of its day.
Callahan (b. Oct. 27, 1892; d. Jan. 10, 1981), an entertainer and novelist, exploited America's fascination with all things Western —
especially the romanticized notions of
Old California as presented by Helen Hunt Jackson in her seminal 1884 novel, "Ramona" — by collecting objects with a connection, real or imagined,
to the novelist and her work, and enticing the public to experience them.
Callahan's initial visions of creating an amusement park to be called Ramona Village morphed into the Mission Village Auto Court, which he opened in 1926
at 5675 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City. Along with a themed hotel, he erected teepees for travelers and put his collections on display, including a chapel,
little red schoolhouse and kiva (a small sweat lodge).
Auto parks were big business as the automobile came into age in the 1920s. There were a few auto parks in the Santa Clarita Valley, most notably McIntyre's camp at Castaic Junction, which was wiped out in the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster.
In time, L.A. city builders had a different vision for Callahan's Culver City property. By the early 1960s, Mission Village stood in the way of the coming I-10 Santa Monica Freeway. So in 1962 Callahan
closed Mission Village and moved it to 13660 Sierra Highway. (The freeway was completed in 1965).
Note: In Callahan's day, that part of Sierra Highway was known as Saugus. The county of Los Angeles later included it within the Acton-Agua Dulce Town Council's sphere of influence. It is commonly considered part of Agua Dulce today.
In 1987, Callahan's widow, Marion, donated several artifacts from the former Indian Village — including the Ramona Chapel and little red schoolhouse — to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
The main building remained on the property, and from From 1986-2000, Marion Callahan leased it to the Canyon Theatre Guild. In 2000 the CTG moved back to downtown Newhall where the community theatre had started.