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A Chinese Lion — A Golden Spike.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Wednesday, September 8, 1976.
More than a thousand people turned out Sunday to celebrate the final official event of this anniversary year: the driving of the golden spike that connected Los Angeles with San Francisco and the transcontinental railway.
The ceremony, at the site of the onetime Lang Station, where early travelers stopped to bathe in mineral springs and where today a contractors' school trains laborers — and contributed mightily to the preparation of the site and the monument.
Highlights of the afternoon were the dragon and lion dances sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, in which the decorative serpents writhed at the end of sticks carried by Chinese youngsters amid the sharp explosions of firecrackers.
For some three hours before the program, visitors admired the antique cars lined up at the site by the Santa Clarita Valley Antique Car Club, along with the antique fire engine supplied by the County Fire Department.
Two beautiful model trains (1¼ inch scale) were brought by Ed St. John of Los Angeles and Lowell Brown of Arleta, both members of the Los Angeles Live Steamers. Both were replicas of the locomotive that brought guests from Los Angeles to the driving of the original spike.
And that spike itself was on display in a plastic case, having been brought down from San Francisco for the occasion by the California Historical Society, in whose archives it rests.
The hours before the ceremony were enlivened by the music of country-western star Carl Cribbs of Canyon Country. As the only real train at the celebration came in from the East, the Cribbs combo played "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain."
The train fell somewhat short of what the sponsors had hoped. At the fiftieth anniversary of the occasion, passengers had arrived aboard a steam train, in costume, giving style to the event.
This time, however, Southern Pacific stood by its adamant corporate stand that it would tolerate no passengers, whether or not there was a ceremony. The train was one of its three bicentennial diesel engines, showing visible signs of wear after a year on the road, and ignominiously hauling freight cars towards Saugus.
The crowd, however, maintained its spirit, and cheered the Canyon High brass band, and the presentation by school song leaders of American flags.
The program included introduction by chairman Charles Weeks of Bobbie Trueblood, local bicentennial chairman, who led the salute to the flag; invocation by Fr. Timothy Nichols of Our Lady of Perpetual Help church; and introduction of guests by James G. Shea, vice president of the Southern Pacific Company.
A brief history of the building of the railroad of Los Angeles was given by S.P. regional operations manager John Ramsey of San Francisco.
The members of E Clampus Vitus, a society of California history buffs, paraded in their miners' costumes of red shirts and other assorted garb, carried aloft their symbols of hoopskirts and ladies' pantalettes. They were introduced by Don Torgeson, who presented a plaque for the occasion.
The feature of the day was the Chinese contribution. California Secretary of State March Fong Eu spoke briefly of the part played by Chinese in California, and was followed by eloquent Stanley Lau, president of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, who introduced the dancers.
After the dance, Mrs. Eu read the plaque in English and, haltingly, in Chinese (which she had to memorize for the occasion).
Robert Banning, grandson of Phineas Banning, who brought the first stage into the Santa Clarita Valley and built the first railroad in Los Angeles, drove the replica of the golden spike. (He offered Mrs. Eu the first crack, but she missed and happily turned the maul back to him.)
This anniversary was especially significant because of the part played in the celebration by the Chinese, who were actually the builders of the railroad and have only in very recent years emerged from the long night of discrimination. It was the first golden spike ceremony in which Americans of Chinese descent have actively participated.
The day concluded with a barbecue and dance at the Elks Lodge, presided over by the Mint Canyon Lions' Club.