Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Volunteers Reinstall Crossbuck

Heritage Junction Historic Park

2020/2021 — SCV Historical Society project leader Mike Jarel and muscular volunteer Manny Santana reinstall the crossbuck (railroad crossing sign) in front of the Saugus Train Station in the Heritage Junction section of William S. Hart Park in Newhall.

The crossbuck was previously installed in the same location. A truck backed into it in the mid-2010s and broke it off at the base. This time, it has been mounted inside a giant steel beam that has been buried and cemented 5 feet into the ground and extends 3 feet above ground, acting as a bollard.

The crossbuck saw use in Saugus near the original location of the Southern Pacific Railroad's 1888 Saugus Depot at Drayton Street and Bouquet Canyon Road.


October 28, 2020: Santana uses a post hole digger to go down 5 feet while Jarel measures.

October 29, 2020: Santana obtains a donation of an 8-foot section of a steel beam, valued at about $1,000, from a local supplier. The two men sink it into the hole.

December 22, 2020: After pouring the concrete for a new and larger duck pond in the barnyard area of Hart Park, the contractor (Robertson's Ready Mix) brings the leftover mix to Heritage Junction and pours it into and around the steel beam to secure it. See video of the concrete pour below.

February 11, 2021: Jarel and Santana complete the installation of the crossbuck.

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.

HS9035: Download original images here. Digital images and video by Leon Worden.
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