Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Confusion Hill, aka Placerita Oil Field

Newhall, California

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Click image to enlarge | Download archival scan

Confusion Hill, aka Placerita Oil Field, on the west side of Sierra Highway between Placerita Canyon Road and Golden Valley Road in Newhall, probably 1949.

The view seems to be to the west (west at top), with Sierra Highway just out of view at the bottom. If so, then the road running diagonally in the upper left corner is Lyons Avenue (Pico Road). If it were a few decades later, we would see portions of Valencia and Stevenson Ranch along the top. See 2019 Google Earth images below.

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Click to enlarge.

The image comes to us from Cassandra Skaggs, granddaughter of Earl Schmidt (namesake of the local water filtration plant), who in the 1940s and '50s co-owned the 6-S Ranch Airpark in today's Canyon Country with his brother, Helm Schmidt. One of the brothers probably provided the flight for this aerial photograph — which was used to illustrate a 1949 TIME Magazine story about Milfred R. Yant, the man who started the confusion on the hill.

TIME Magazine identifies the photographer as Bill Ransom.

A maker's stamp appears on the back of the print: "Jerry Holscher / 57 / Custom Print." This was probably the photo lab that created the 8x10 print of Ransom's image. Holscher was an L.A.-area photographer who was active in the 1950s. Holscher's mark appears on other prints from the 1949-1950 period that were passed down from Earl Schmidt.

Read about Confusion Hill:

Confusion Hill from Jerry Reynolds' History of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Yant's Last Laugh by Dr. Alan Pollack.


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Google Earth image accessed 2019. Golden Valley Road (at right) didn't exist in 1949. Lyons Avenue is the yellow line running diagonally in the upper left corner. Click image to enlarge.


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Wider view from same vantage point. Google Earth image accessed 2019. Click image to enlarge.


SK5701: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph courtesy of Cassandra Skaggs. Online only.
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