April 17, 1980 — The Southern Pacific Railroad's 1887 Saugus depot stands in its original location at the southeast corner of Drayton Street and
Railroad Avenue, two months prior to its move two miles south to William S. Hart Regional County Park. Passenger rail service had ended in 1971; the depot was
shuttered in 1978, and freight service was discontinued in 1979.
Photos by Curtis Darcy (1922-1991), whose wife, Jo Anne Darcy, was involved with the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society at a time when the society was raising money
to save the Saugus train station from demolition and working through the politics of moving it to Hart Park. At this time, Jo Anne was executive director of the
Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce, and the county supervisor for the fifth district was Baxter Ward.
The trailer on the roof was an addition (to the four upstairs rooms) that the Guthrie family used as a living room. James Guthrie was the last Saugus station agent.
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.
Download original images here
. Photos from the Jo Anne Darcy Collection.