When the graves and headstones in Newhall's original Pioneer Cemetery (the Lyon family graveyard) were moved to the Garden of Pioneers at
Eternal Valley Cemetery when the latter was new in 1958, they didn't have to be moved far.
From historian Stan Walker come these topographical maps of the area. The map at left dates to 1933 and shows a cross with a dashed outline
(which Walker has further outlined in yellow). That's the original Pioneer Cemetery. The map at right is from 1966 (photorevised 1988) and shows the
new cemetery with its Garden of Pioneers in roughly the same location.
Sanford Lyon was born Nov. 20, 1831, in Machias, Maine, came out West in for the 1849 gold rush and eventually came south and turned his attention to black gold. In November 1868, he took title to an old stagecoach station just north of the Newhall Pass which would come to be known as Lyon's Station. Today the station's location would be described as the entrance to Eternal Valley Cemetery off Sierra Highway. He spent his spare time galavanting about the territory looking for oil, with moderate success. He sold his interest in the station a just year later, in December 1869 — ironic that his name would stick to it — and moved west to the vicinity of Towsley Canyon.
Sanford died November 30, 1882, in what was now Newhall. He was buried in the Lyon's Station cemetery. Reynolds describes its location thusly: "By 1868, [Lyon's Station] consisted of a large-frame building housing a store, post office, stage depot and tavern. Behind that the family cottage was hidden among stately oaks, while up the hill were some board-and-batten residences for twenty of Lyon's employees and their families. There a cemetery was established, where such names as Rivera, Whitney and even Lyon were eventually inscribed into headstones. Across the road that would one day be known as Sierra Highway loomed a red, New England-style barn, surrounded by corrals and sheep pens, with cattle roaming free over the steep hills. Today the place goes by the name of Eternal Valley."
In 1888, Kansas Gov. John St. John purchased a 10,000-acre swath of land from The Newhall Land and Farming Company that included the former Lyon holdings, which stretched from today's Old Road (just west of Interstate 5) to roughly the 14 Freeway. St. John eventually gave up on his plans to turn Newhall into a prohibition colony, but his ranch foreman, Henry Clay Needham, remained in the area and retained 750 acres that included the former station and burial site. The acreage stretches from Sierra Highway to Pine Street.
Needham died in 1936, and the property came into the possession of San Fernando Valley trash king Louis "Louie" Visco, father of Antelope Valley political kingmaker Frank Visco. The elder Visco owned the property just long enough to enrage everybody in Newhall when he proposed to turn the Railroad Canyon (Pine Street) side into a giant trash dump. County Supervisor Warren Dorn stopped the plan dead in its tracks, so Visco unloaded the 750-acre property in 1957 — to Gates, Kingsley and Gates Inc., a family-owned funeral directorship headed by Mark T. Gates Sr. In 1958, the County of Los Angeles approved Gates' application to establish Eternal Valley Cemetery on a 220-acre section of the property.
The Gates group graded the cemetery property in 1958 and moved the burials, including Sanford Lyon's, from their original location at what Perkins described in 1949 as "the hillside to the south" to the new Garden of Pioneers a short distance away. Headstones which had been allowed to fall into disrepair were mended and uprighted; it's the only section of the cemetery where upright markers are allowed.
Gates, Kingsley, Gates sold the Eternal Valley property to Service Corporation International in 1972, when Mark Sr. died (b. Dec. 29, 1907 in Nebraska; d. July 12, 1972, in Los Angeles; interred at Eternal Valley) — but retained 584 acres of the former Needham Ranch. Under SCI ownership, Eternal Valley has continued to expand within the confines of its original 220 acres.
Meanwhile, in 2003, the City of Santa Clarita approved plans for the development of a business park by Gate King Properties LLC — a new iteration of Gates, Kingsley headed by Gates' son, Mark Jr., in partnership with the new cemetery owner and with another adjacent property owner (on the Pine Street side), Hank Arklin.