Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Acton Hotel
Acton, California

Richard E. Nickel was 31 years old when he pulled into the tiny Acton train station for the first time on Oct. 11, 1887. He became the town's second resident — second only to his father-in-law, an entrepreneur named John F. Duehren, who had built the '49er Saloon in 1870 to serve the miners and prospectors of the nearby canyons in the northeastern Santa Clarita Valley.

Soon known as the "Father of Acton," Nickel was instrumental in establishing most of the amenities a small frontier town would need. Employed as an agent for the Acton station, he built a general store with his family residence above, and became the first Acton postmaster when he moved the Soledad Post Office into his store on Jan. 24, 1888. On July 15, 1891, Nickel published the first edition of the first Santa Clarita Valley-based newspaper, The Acton Rooster, which came out on the 15th of each month for 22 years. On Nov. 2, 1891, Nickel established the valley's first water company, Acton Water Works. In March of 1900, Nickel was appointed port warden of San Francisco Harbor by his friend, California Governor Henry T. Gage, who had interests in a number of famous gold mines near Acton. Nickel left town but continued to publish the Acton Rooster from afar. He died in 1922.

In 1890, Nickel completed his Acton Hotel, a lavish, two-story Victorian structure with a loft. Governor Gage entertained several political allies at the hotel, most notably Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert C. Hoover, as well as the King of Spain and attorney Earl Rogers. The hotel mysteriously burned to the ground on Friday night, Oct. 19, 1945.

AP2218: 19200 dpi jpeg from copy print (needs rescan).




On Fire 1945

1945 Fire Story

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