Jerry Reynolds' tale of the Santa Clarita is a captivating drama, meant to be read more as a novel than an encyclopedic reference. Which is not to say that it isn't an important reference tool, because it is. It is the most complete Santa Clarita Valley history book yet written.
But it is more than that, much more. The consummate storyteller, Reynolds brings the valley's history to life in such a way that the reader just knows the author must have been there, witnessing the events as they unfolded. Prepare to read the text in one sitting because it's a real page-turner.
The stories in this volume formed the backbone of Reynolds' original Santa Clarita: Valley of the Golden Dream, published in 1992 by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. While the two versions are similar in many respects, some of the material presented here was not included in the original book, and although sections have been updated and revised, great care has been taken to preserve Reynolds' authentic style. Differences between the two texts reflect editorial decisions based on Reynolds' lifelong discovery, and evolving interpretations, of historical data, as well as outside references.
Other works to Reynolds' credit include A Heritage to Keep (1976); Pico Canyon Chronicles (1985); and various magazine articles.
Jerry Reynolds wrote for The Signal, the Santa Clarita Valley's daily newspaper, off and on for two decades, producing a complete series of historical "columns" in the mid-1970s and again in the mid-1980s, with additional works in subsequent years.
The outline of this book follows the format Reynolds typically used when telling his story in The Signal. The reader should be aware that the author penned the prologue and epilogue used herein in 1985, and therefore they predate some of the material included in this volume — such as the 1987 incorporation of the City of Santa Clarita and other updated information that has been woven throughout the text.
Born Gerald G. Reynolds in Torrance, California on July 16, 1937, "Jerry" studied art history at Long Beach State College and worked as a private investigator until landing his dream job as a tour guide at William Randolph Hearst's castle at San Simeon. Ultimately he made a career with the California Department of Water Resources as director of the Castaic Lake Visitors Center and later the Vista del Lago Visitors Center at Lake Pyramid.
Reynolds came to Newhall in 1971 with his wife Myrna and their three sons, James, David and Jason, and promptly filled the void left by the aging A.B. Perkins, the valley's first "town historian." By the time of Perkins' death in 1977, Reynolds had already assumed the mantle, collecting historical photographs, committing old-timers' oral histories to paper, helping organize the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and serving as its first (and until his death its only) museum curator.
It is quite literally true that without Perkins and Reynolds, the history of the Santa Clarita Valley would have scattered to the winds.
Special thanks go to Myrna Reynolds, for her friendship and encouragement; Ted Lamkin, for preserving and providing photographs; John Boston, Carol Rock, Tom Frew and Connie Worden-Roberts, for proofreading the manuscript; Ruth Newhall, for extensive discussions of Del Valle and Newhall family history; Gene Autry and Alex Gordon, for reviewing the material on Melody Ranch; biographer Robert S. Birchard, for rewriting the chapter on Tom Mix; Connie Worden-Roberts, for reworking the material on county and city formation; the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, for its cooperation; and The Signal, for enriching its readers with Jerry's stories of our valley.
February 26, 1996 was a sad day in Santa Clarita as cancer claimed the life of Jerry Reynolds at the young age of 58. But a part of him, like our history, lives forever.
— LEON WORDEN, 1998