History will always show the roots of where society has come from. Even the roots of how a small establishment became one of the fastest growing cities.
A local Saugus train station has set the pathway to its future as being of the growing cities in southern California. The station at the Heritage Junction in Newhall, California was one of the many stops along for the Southern Pacific Railway. Since the railway was one of the many ways to travel, this station contains a great amount of history since it was opened in Sept. 1, 1887. One of the many factors that came from the station was that there was a restaurant by the name of Tolfree’s Saugus Eating House, in which was moved out of the station and moved across the tracks and became the Saugus Café. Then, in 1929, there was the infamous Saugus Train Robbery that took place.
Michael Jarel is retired train engineer and has worked with the Southern Pacific Railway for forty years and recalls being on this route coming to the Santa Clarita. Since his retirement, he has been tied close with the railroad station and has been working closely with the Santa Clarita Historical Society When the depot was in the original location. Also, watched the history grow within the station and what more has come from historical building.
“The Tolfree family operated these eating houses that were in depots. There was one here, one in Mojave, and there was one in Bakersfield. They were contracted with the railroad and didn’t operate them themselves. Soon it moved across the street from the depot to what is now the Saugus Café. It continuously operated since, and it is my understanding that Saugus Cafe is the oldest continuously operated business in LA County,” said Jarel.
In the beginning of the whereabouts of the station, the location was the original town spot of Newhall and then later moved to the current location due to the water supply. The town was first found by the Henry Mayo Newhall who also worked in the railroad industry. When the town of Newhall was moved, the town from the original location was then named Saugus since Newhall’s mother was from Saugus, Massachusetts. From there, a growth of towns were beginning to appear and soon became what is known to be the city of Santa Clarita.
Even though the Santa Clarita Valley was part of the famous locations for western films, there was more to the valley than just film.
“The time the depot itself really didn’t have that much to do with the studio’s use of the area for movie production other than the fact it if they needed to ship any heavy equipment by rail to move it out here. The depot was a good location to offload and load equipment. But the main industry of this valley until post World War II was agriculture and that’s what moved in and out of this valley,” said Jarel.
This historical building is important and what was important was the work that went into preserving the building. It only took one person to start the process and get the ball rolling and that was how it all started to have people join in the process. The end result of people caring about this location is having a building that started the whole transformation of a small town to a big city.
“Joanne Darcy started petitioning the county supervisor who at that time was Baxter ward to find a place for the Saugus train station to live and at the same time Historical Society board worked with Southern Pacific to prevent Southern Pacific from knocking it down saying; “Hey, give it to us. We’ll pay to move it. Just don’t knock it down,” said SCV Historical Society Vice President Leon Worden.
Worden has been with the Santa Clarita Historical Society since 1974. Since then he has been a part of the journey to keep continuing to preserve the history of this station and many historical sites of the Santa Clarita Valley.
With all the hard work that has gone into the SCV Historical Society, there are many different buildings that have come to join this retired station and be with the building that started the whole entire pathway to have a great town, and in which transformed into a very successful city. The location of this particular station is in the town of Newhall in the William S. Hart park.