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Oil booms and good will

Posted: April 3, 2009 1:13 a.m.
Updated: April 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Editor's note: As The Signal celebrates 90 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, we offer this peek into the SCV of days past. Following is from the first week of the April 1949 Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

There's oil in 'dem hills
"Oil boom revival seen in hills as Yant & G.P. wells come in strongly" was a front-page story: "The oil boom which withered in the Newhall townsite this week began to flicker again in the surrounding hills," the report said.

The "boom" brought a 700-barrel flow on the mesa north of Placerita Canyon for Santa Clarita wildcatters.

"On the other side of town, the Rothschild Perkins (well) ... was bottomed out in 200 feet of an oil structure which may or may not turn out to be a heavy producer when the well is swabbed," the story continued.

Thankfully, somewhere along the line, someone prevented a proliferation of oil derricks from obscuring the valley's skyline - or maybe they just ran out of oil.

The ghost of Bill Hart?
From "Signal Tower," a front-page column from the publisher's desk: "Buzz in the night" told the story of the caretakers for the home of Bill Hart, a property Hart christened La Loma de los Vientos, or Hill of the Winds.

"The big house on the hill above Newhall that Bill Hart built nearly a quarter of a century ago ... is now an empty and echoing place.

"They did get a little turn late one night not that long ago."

The expansive property was part of film history, and the Spanish colonial mansion had two carertakers at the time who looked after the property and were startled by something Hart left behind.

When Hart and his sister were both bedridden at the same time with illness, Hart had a buzzer system installed so the two could communicate. That system was never removed.

"On this particular night recently, Mr. and Mrs. Shanks were aroused by the continued ringing of a buzzer.

"They investigated and soon found the cause: a short circuit."

The column tells it best - "It all sounds quite matter of fact ... still ... yet ... but ... we don't know whether we would like to hear a spooky buzzing in that big empty house at midnight ... would you?"

The good ole days, when rustlers drove Chevys
"Rustler butchers strike again in Soledad Canyon" told the tale of a cattle ranch that was targeted by a roaming band of ne'er-do-wells who "struck again for fresh meat."

"As it was, they hazed a young brown and white heifer worth $150 into a fence corner and skillfully cut her throat."

"Investigator MacCullough of Newhall Sheriff Station is of the opinion that the job was done by the same party who butchered a cow on the Bonelli ranch."

A witness claimed to see two men in "a late model two-tone Chev sedan."

Good will gone awry
Also in the Signal Tower is the story of John Baptist Guerrera, 43, of Santa Monica, who "was moved to pity" when his friend was sent to the sheriff's Honor Farm in Castaic.

"On Sunday, he secured two bottles of good vino. One of these he drank, and the other he placed in his pocket for his friend at the Farm.

"At the Honor Farm gate, he met stern, suspicious men in uniform. They smelled the breath of John Baptist. ... The protestations of John Baptist that he intended only solace and good fellowship for his friend in durance vile were useless.

"He was hauled away to durance vile himself."

Russell Patrick


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