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Our Heritage Park
January, 2006 - Issue #15
Last month, we (re-)introduced you to Heritage Junction to celebrate the SCV Historical Society's 30th Anniversary. This month, Tyler Johnstone provides even more fascinating information on Santa Clarita's local history spot.

Hopefully, by now you have had a chance to visit the Hart Mansion. If you happen to visit on either a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you may have noticed a flurry of activity and events in the lower portion of the park. This is Heritage Junction, most recognized by the 1900 steamer standing prominent in front of the old Saugus train station. While Heritage Junction was not the original location for many of these pieces of local history, the collection at Hart Park makes for an impressive historical adventure.

The Saugus Train Station stands prominently at the center of Heritage Park. Managed by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, the train station served as our only local station for years throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Originally sited across from the Saugus Cafe on San Fernando Road at the present location of Stock Building Supply, the train station was built in 1887. For almost a century it stood as the center for freight and passengers in Santa Clarita. The Saugus Cafe, originally the Toll House Cafe, was located inside the station before being sold and rebuilt across the street at its present-day home.

Inside the train station, two separate waiting areas housed the passengers. One for the men, "full of cussing, spitting and shooting," and a quieter room for the women and children, safely shielded from those "vile" men. Other areas of the station housed a rest and operations room for the conductors and station attendants and rooms for baggage and freight storage. The second floor was occupied by a family who kept up the station until its closure in 1978. (The family had added on a second loft for the children. It has since been removed).

The station was then cut into pieces in June of 1980 and rolled down San Fernando Road. After months of reconstruction the train station was reopened by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society at Heritage Junction. Over the years, numerous other historical buildings have joined the train station adjacent to Hart Par,k including the original Mitchell Adobe School House, several turn-off-the-century homes, Ramona Chapel from "Callahan's Old West Show" (still available for weddings) and a 1900 steam engine donated by Gene Autry. The station and Historical Society Museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It houses an impressive collection of railroad memorabilia, everything from the pliers used to carry the iron rail lines weighing 135 pounds a foot to an advanced message delivery system, considered quite high-tech, in the era before radio and cell phones. Also inside are numerous pieces of local history that serve as a one-stop journey into our valley's past.

The Santa Clarita Historical Society is always looking for more volunteers and docents. Anyone interested should contact Pat Saletore at 254-1275 or pat@scvhistory.com. The Historical Society website has an abundance of photos and stories on Santa Clarita history at www.scvhistory.com.

I hope you'll stop by in the near future. Our history seems to age even faster than we do, so take the time to see a little, share a little, and learn a lot at Heritage Junction.
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