June 25, 1980 —
Rescued by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society with huge community participation, the Southern Pacific Railroad's 1887 Saugus depot comes to rest in its new location
at William S. Hart Regional County Park after moving overnight from its original location two miles to the north. Photos by Ted Lamkin.
Saugus Depot Gets A Boosted Boost Onto Blocks.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Wednesday, July 9, 1980.
The Saugus station is still sitting up on blocks facing the railroad track at its new site next to Hart Park.
Within this month it should be lowered to its concrete foundations and the business of restoration can start.
The community responded to the drive to save the station by contributing enough funds to move the station in the early morning of June 24, plus enough to make a good start on the restoration.
By moving day, $50,592.39 had been donated to the Save-Our-Station fund. In addition, dozens of businesses and private individuals had donated skills and material to keep down the costs of installing it in its new location.
Thanks to Curtis Sand & Gravel Co., aided by labor from Sunrise Construction, the footings for the building were ready. Concrete blocks furnished by Clanton Block Co. now stand ready to be placed for a foundation.
Currently progress is being held up by engineering work. The method in which the old station was built nearly a century ago, though maintaining it sound and undamaged through earthquakes and the daily rumble of passing trains, is not part of the county's current codes.
Therefore, County District Engineer Eugene Bahl is asking that stress figures be developed before he will approve continued restoration.
Donald Hale, engineering consultant for the Historical Society, is working with the State Historical Preservation Board in developing those figures.
After the building is set down on its foundations, the two parts into which it was divided for the move will be permanently rejoined, and painting, landscaping, and interior remodeling can start.
Among the expenses which still lie ahead for the Historical Society are such invisible but costly items as a septic tank, interior plumbing, wiring, heating and flooring.
Contributions which came in during the week or so before moving, as well as those which have come in since, are included in the following list.
Among the largest gilts in that period was a donation of $500 from the Old Schoolhouse Emporium, the enterprise in which developers George Nigro and Adeeb Sadd are converting the Saugus School to a shopping center.
Another substantial $456.50 came from a bowling tournament sponsored jointly by the Newhall Bowl and the Canyon Sidebanders, a citizens-band radio club.
The $18 donated by the Pinetree Preschool represented a penny a pound for each child — nearly a ton of tots.
People or organizations who have given $100 or more are denoted by an asterisk, indicating that their names will appear on a plaque on the wall of the station. The plaque will be constructed so that additions can be made as the station is developed.
Recent gifts from businesses and organizations, apart from those named above, are: *Canyon Country Coin Club; *Castaic Cougars 4-H Club; *Kronnick Realty; *Newhall-Saugus Kiwanis Club; *Margo; Old Orchard I Over 50 Club; *A.B. Perkins Sons in memory of A.B. Perkins; and Rosedell school student council.
Individuals and families: Jesse Jr. and Edna Abbott; *Nancy Albrecht and Charlyne Ohlemacher, in memory of Charlot and Géne Martin; *George A. Bjornstad; *William M. Brockman Jr.; Philip and Betty Chaldu; Elliott Clawson; *the DeShong family; *Myrtle Downey, and Myrna, Kimberley, Dianna, and Lester Steele, in memory of Roger Downey.
*Harold and Jane Fulbright; J. Maurice and Johanna Garrick; Adolph and Virginia Henkel; *Sara E. Hopking in memory of Mr. and Mrs J.M. Roberts; Fred and Myrla Host; *Thomas R. Ippoliti; *Roland E. and Joanie B. Jarve; Lawrence A. Jennings; *Andrew and Ellen John; Benjamin A. Kerr; *the Lechler family, by Maude Pagan and Bernice Kalland.
Eric J. and Kathleen M. LOtts; Steve and Jean McAllister; *Wayne, Jan, Tom, and Tracy Meyers; Harry N. and Ella C. Moore; Raymond K. Moore; *Reuben Henry and Ada Kirk Norris. given by Clifton and Sue Bedwell; *Marguerite A. Perkins, in memory of A.B. Perkins; Wilmer and Judith L. Pittman; Delbert and Patricia Price.
Ray and Candy Saniger; Diana L. Simons; Roy Smith; Whitey and Mary Ann Towers in memory of Danny Towers; James and Evelyn Tulloss; Paul M. and Sara Van Leuven; Bob Weaver; Aliza, Meika, and Joel Wilde; *Mike and Sue Yurosek; and *Vernon R. and Kathryn M. Zimmerman.
The Saugus train station opened June 21, 1888, the Southern Pacific Railroad having completed its spur line to Ventura in 1887 along the present-day alignment of Magic Mountain Parkway to State Route 126 through Castaic Junction, Camulos, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Saticoy — where the SP also erected depots or sidings of various size.
The large, two-story Saugus depot followed a "Common Standard" set of SP blueprints and stood at the southeast corner of present-day Drayton Street and Railroad Avenue (previously San Fernando Road). Tolfree's Saugus Eating House occupied the north side of the depot until 1916 when it moved across the street into its own building and became the Saugus Café (the name had been in use since 1899).
President Benjamin Harrison came through (without stopping) in April 1891, and Theodore Roosevelt is said to have been met at the depot by California governor and Acton gold mine owner Henry T. Gage in 1903. Twenty years later, Charlie Chaplin used the depot in "The Pilgrim," and in 1954 another U.S. president was scheduled to stop at the depot but the feds caught wind of an assassination attempt in time. Of course, this last one was Hollywood fiction; the movie was "Suddenly" and the assassin was played by Frank Sinatra. Saugus and Newhall were used extensively as the film locations.
Passenger service ended in April 1971 and the last station agent, James "Bob" Guthrie, shuttered the depot for good on Nov. 15, 1978. Facing demolition by the SP, the depot was rescued in 1980 through a fundraising effort organized by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, then just 4½ years old. During the night of June 24-25, 1980, it was moved two miles south to the society's home at Heritage Junction at William S. Hart County Park in Newhall, where its film career continued (e.g., "The Grifters" with John Cusack and Angelica Huston, 1989).
Today the depot is an educational venue for visiting elementary school students and patrons of the SCV Historical Society's lectures and film showings, as well as the home to the society's offices, collections, meetings, and the community's "temporary" history museum while the Pardee House at Heritage Junction is turned into a permanent museum facility.