In honor of the National Day of the Cowboy, I was invited to share my book, The Gingerbread Cowboy, at OutWest Marketing on Main Street in Newhall which is in the Santa Clarita Valley, CA. I had a great time reading my story and better yet, meeting some terrific people. Bobbi and Jim Bell, who own the store were such thoughtful hosts. Their store carries an eclectic mix of Native American and Western inspired goods for men, women, children and the home along with some delicious foods. I also met some of the artists they feature. Bob Hernandez was exhibiting some amazing punched tin folk art. Laila Asgari, the talent behind Serendipity Blue designs in glass, brought some of her beautiful cowgirl inspired glass art. I couldn't leave for the day without purchasing a special piece to take with me.
Originally part of an old Spanish land grant, Newhall was founded at a whistle stop for the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1800s. Santa Clarita is the home of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch (now the Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch). Western television series filmed there include Gunsmoke, the Lone Ranger, and Annie Oakly. More recently, Melody Ranch was the location for HBO's Deadwood. Western movies were also at home here. Renowned actors from Tom Mix and William S. Hart to Gary Cooper starred in films shot in the Santa Clarita Valley. John Ford made particular use of Beale's cut, one of Santa Clarita's historic features, for his 1939 film "Stagecoach," starring John Wayne. Beale's cut is a 90 foot vertical cut that was dug in the 1800's with pick and shovel to create a pass between Los Angeles and California's Central Valley.
Santa Clarita's Western Heritage also includes William S. Hart's Horseshoe Ranch with its Spanish style mansion and surrounding grounds. The ranch is now known as William S. Hart Park. The house is preserved as a museum that contains Hart's original furnishings and art work. The park is home to bison descended from a herd donated by Walt Disney.