The Santa Clarita Valley’s rich history of rail, water, gold, oil, and cattle embodies the promise, potential and progress of Southern California. The area was first settled by the Tataviam people around 450 AD, but its name comes from a Spanish expedition in 1769. In 1850, Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell arrived in California to seek his fortune in gold, and a decade later his purchase of a 160-acre ranch in Soledad Canyon made him the area’s “first official resident.” He turned his sights to cattle ranching and bee keeping.
After marrying Martha Taylor, he built a redwood shingled, clay mud adobe hacienda where they would raise six children. Mining activities grew and families gradually located to surrounding areas. Mitchell’s landholdings expanded to some 1,000 acres. Another Canyon pioneer, John Lang, established a 1,200 acre ranch, hotel and stagecoach stop in nearby Shadow Pines. In 1872, the Mitchells, the Langs and neighboring Stewart family organized the Sulphur Springs School District, California’s second school district. Martha Taylor Mitchell taught the first classes inside the kitchen of her adobe home. Progress continued with the completion of the railroad through Soledad in 1876. As student enrollment grew, the “school” was moved: first to Lang’s hotel and finally to a wooden schoolhouse built on property donated by the Mitchell family. The present-day Sulphur Springs Elementary School facility is located there today. Henry Mayo Newhall granted the right-of-way through land here for the first railway connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, and since that time the area has experienced continued growth.
Starting in the 20th century, Santa Clarita became a favored location for Hollywood productions. Hundreds of movies and television episodes have been filmed here, including NCIS, Melrose Place, Star Trek 4, Pleasantville, Twilight and many more. The City of Santa Clarita was incorporated in 1987. The City Council unanimously approved the Vista Canyon land use plan in May 2011 and in September 2012 the property was officially annexed as part of the City.