Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Founder of Avalon Killed When Trains Collide at Ravenna

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In addition to having served as L.A.'s police commissioner, George Rufus Shatto (Aug. 15, 1850 May 30, 1893) was a prominent Los Angeles real estate developer. He bought Catalina Island from the estate of James Lick in 1887 for $150,000 and was the first to attempt to develop it as a resort destination. He subdivided some of the property and set out the town of Avalon. The investment didn't pay off quickly enough; the James Lick Trust foreclosed in 1891. In 1892, shortly before his untimely death, he built a Queen Anne mansion at present-day Wilshire Boulevard and Lucas Street, on the site of today's Good Samaritan Hospital.

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Two Freight Trains Collide Near Ravenna.

Fatal Railway Accident.

Los Angeles, June 1. — A fatal accident occurred near Ravenna station on the Southern Pacific at about 10 o'clock last night, by which Geo. R. Shatto, formerly police commissioner of Los Angeles, was instantly killed. It was caused by one freight train running into the rear of another. It was due to the failure of the engineer to see the signal put out.

George R. Shatto had been prospecting 35 miles north of Mohave in company with several other men, and was returning to Los Angeles on the regular freight. When the crash came he was lying in the caboose, with his head leaning against the forward end. The shock of the collision drove his skull with great force against the woodwork, shattering the cranium and spine, causing instantaneous death. Seven other men in the same car were also severely injured, but probably owe their lives to the fact that they were all standing up. The car they occupied was so badly shattered that the occupants had to be dug out from the wreck.

The injured were J.E. Wilson of Santa Fe Springs, C.A. Holden of Los Angeles, G.W. Giggy [sic: s/b Giggey] of Colorado, Joseph Gorman and G.M. Hudson, Los Angeles, and Giovanni Colona of Mohave.

The train on which were the injured when the accident occurred was known as No. 23 regular freight, with Mr. Drohan as conductor. It had about 25 cars and a caboose attached. It was a sort of local passenger train, carrying people between stations who did not care to wait for the regular train.

The colliding train was an extra freight carrying about 25 cars, Mr. Hamble being the conductor. It had been following the regular. Ravenna was reached about 9 o'clock last night and No. 23 stopped to take water.

The tank is around a curve, and the train lights on the rear car could not be seen by an approaching train. There is grade by the tank. No. 23 had just finished taking water and was pulling out when the extra dashed around the curve, smashing into the caboose of No. 23, completely telescoping it and the forward box car, instantly killing Mr. Shatto and injuring the other occupants of the caboose to a greater or less degree.

A number of cars were ditched, and the engine of the extra was also disabled. The trainmen pitched in and worked like beavers to rescue the passengers who were [buried?] amid the broken timbers.

Holden and Giggey were first gotten out, and finally the broken, bruised remains of Mr. Shatto were lifted tenderly out. A box car, with improvised cots, was provided, and the injured men placed in it and hurried on to this city.



Mining Activity 1862


Storm Damage 1884


Rail Worker Killed; Engineer Dies from 2nd Accident 1886


1 Killed When Trains Collide 1893


Engine Jumps Track 2-1898


Freight Train Jumps Track 5-1898


Locomotive Explodes, 2 Killed 1902


Derailment 1956

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