Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Placeritos Ranch-Slippery Gulch Postcard, 1950
Newhall July 4 Celebration | Placerita Canyon

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This 1950 penny postcard is anachronistic. If the photograph was truly shot in 1935 as the inscription proclaims, then it's not Ernie Hickson's Placeritos Ranch (today's Melody Ranch). It would be the Trem Carr Ranch, about one-half mile to the east.

Trem Carr and Ernie Hickson arrived in California separately in 1922 and found work in the moving picture business. Hickson earned his first screen credit in 1924; Carr was producing films under his own name by 1926. From the summer of 1931 to the summer of 1936, Carr leased land to the east of today's 14 Freeway, where Disney's Golden Oak Ranch is located today. Beginning in 1931, Hickson erected Western buildings and created an Old West street on Carr's leasehold. As Carr's artistic director/set decorator, Hickson provided authentic Western props for Carr's films and rented props to other producers who rented Carr's movie ranch.

During the second week of October 1931, when Carr's five-year land lease expired, Carr and Hickson moved all of the Western buildings down Placerita Canyon Road to a 10-acre parcel Hickson had just purchased near the Glen Farnsworth Ranch. Hickson called the new location "Placeritos Ranch" (until Monogram Pictures Corp., under Carr, leased Hickson's property, probably in 1940. The long-term lease stipulated that it had to be called "Monogram Ranch"). Hickson proceeded to add land to his ranch, eventually acquiring 110 acres in Placerita Canyon. The original 10 acres, where Carr and Hickson moved the buildings in 1936, comprise today's Melody Ranch.

If this photograph actually was shot in 1936 or later, then it does show the Placeritos Ranch, aka Monogram and after 1953, Melody.

Judging from the fantasy souvenir cancellations on the back, this postcard was sold or given to people who attended Newhall's 1950 Fourth of July Celebration, which took place at Hickson's Placeritos Ranch. For three years from 1949 to 1951, Hickson hosted an annual Independence Day festival at his ranch, which he renamed "Slippery Gulch" just for the occasion. Patriotic revelers could partake in drinking, games of chance and more drinking, and take home a variety of souvenirs such as unspent 5-10-25-50 cent tokens and postcards like this one, with fantasy cancellations that lacked a complete date so Hickson could reuse them from year to year.

One fantasy cancellation on this card reads: Pony Express / July 4 / Slippery Gulch. The other reads: The Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company / July 4 / Newhall, Calif.

This particular postcard was postally used; the affixed 1-cent stamp was cancelled by the United States Postal Service at Newhall on July 5, 1950, at 8 a.m.

The card is addressed to Mrs. Agnes Woodward of White Lake, S.D., and reads: "Wish you were here. We are really having a wonderful time. Love, Cassie Mae."

The name of the saloon on this unidentified film set is New Idea / Saloon / Dance Hall.

LW2246a-b-c: 9600 dpi jpegs from original postcard

Event Program

Carolina Cotton
"Grand Marshalette"

Frew Blacksmith Shop, 1st Place Commercial

Slippery Gulch Tokens

Slippery Gulch Postcard

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