Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures


early 50 years ago, between April 1954 and January 1955, The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise (today's Signal Newspaper) published a series of articles written by Arthur B. Perkins, the "first historian" of the Santa Clarita Valley. With the permission of the Signal, his valuable insights into one of the most historic areas in southern California are being reproduced here for the benefits of all its residents and those other lovers of California history. Though some of the information has been superceded by later research, the original investigations by Mr. Perkins remain an outstanding example of what a dedicated individual can accomplish with consistent effort and love of subject.

Introduction to The Signal series

early 25 years ago, Arthur B. Perkins, a comparatively new resident of the village of Newhall, became curious about the vertical notch in the mountains just east of the present Fremont Pass route of U.S. 6. It was a wonderful piece of excavation, a deep, narrow cut, with absolutely vertical walls. Those walls had withstood at least 50 years of natural erosion, the rains, the winds, the frosts, without visible damage. Nor had earthquakes, and the vast earth-moving operations of later road builders disturbed it. Everybody called it the "Beale Cut."

Mr. Perkins started asking around. Nobody knew who had dug the Beale Cut. Nobody apparently had any idea of the history of a whole lot of local features.

For instance, up on the Newhall Ranch, a little west of the present feed mills, there were some traces of old adobe walls. and old tile floors. Nobody knew anything about those either.

A burning desire to straighten out all these mysteries - to dig out the facts, the stories - came upon Mr. Perkins. With that desire came prompt action.

With the constant aid and encouragement of his good wife, Mrs. Marguerite Perkins, he started out to get the answers. That was about 1930. Everybody was "busted" — the Great Depression was on. Mr. Perkins found that with a little time, an ice pick. a small brush, and maybe for heavier work, a garden trowel, there was a lot of inexpensive fun to be had in local caves, or "dig" sites.

That was really archaeology, the prelude to history. But the history followed. The Perkinses pursued it in all of its windings and complexities.

By 1947 they had a collection of source records and reference material. Constant study of this material had produced a mass of notes for a connected historical narrative. It remained to get the actual narrative written.

So the multifarious notation cards were sorted and arranged by making use of the stairway in the Perkins home. At last a start could be made on writing.

The first few chapters came into the Signal office, were put into type and printed as a serial, "The Story of Our Valley." Presently, the linotype caught up with the typewriter, and from then on the writing of a new installment became a weekly chore, performed under pressure.

But Mr. Perkins had most of the answers he started out to find 20 years previously, and he was glad to share those answers with Signal readers. The story up to about the year 1900 got written and published

That did not end Mr. Perkins' researches. He kept on digging, hunting and reading. New facts and angles were developed. For instance, the dominant economic factor in the valley was always the Newhall Land & Farming Co., the "Newhall Ranch." The Story did not specifically go into Ranch history. Mr Perkins went to San Francisco and Sacramento, searching for family and public annals of the Rancho San Francisco. He wrote a new section.

There was a lot of petroleum history around Newhall after 1900. Mr. Perkins felt that ought to be included in the section on oil. This revision will bring the Newhall narrative down to the year 1950.

So here is the new, revised, augmented "History of Our Valley." It is the only one in existence. It contains the answers to almost every question you might want to ask on this subject.

The history falls naturally into three large divisions: the pre-historic, or Indian division, the Spanish or Mexican phase, and finally the current state of American occupation and development.

The Signal is going to use these installments to paste up as many scrapbooks as it can. Perhaps you will want to do the same thing.

All of us can be sure that these books will become increasingly valuable as time goes on.

And now the story begins ...

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