Santa Clarita, 1986

There are many, many ways that Santa Clarita has changed since my family moved here at the end of 1986. The following list illustrates just how much things have changed in the last 26 years, and these are just a handful of the changes:

Magic Mountain - Santa Clarita, CaliforniaSix Flags Magic Mountain

  • There were only two rollercoasters that went upside-down: Shockwave, a stand-up rollercoaster, and Revolution.  The latter is still around, yet quite modest compared to Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, which opened to the public on July 7, 2012.
  • Six Flags divided the park into “areas”: Area 1 (Revolution), Area 2 (Bugs Bunny World), etc..
  • They hosted hip hop and R&B concerts there briefly with acts such as Paperboy and TLC.
  • Hurricane Harbor would arrive nine years later.

Around town

  • The west terminus of Newhall Ranch Road connected to Avenue Scott, next to the old Daily News building.
  • Rye Canyon Road was a cul-de-sac, ending in front of HR Textron (now Woodward HRT).
  • Copper Hill Drive ended at McBean Parkway.
  • The Old Road was discontinuous at its south end, turning into Valencia Blvd. and restarting at Pico Canyon Road.
  • Stevenson Ranch did not exist and the land to the west of the freeway was mostly farmland.  I would see the cows grazing next to the southbound 5 freeway between Valencia Blvd. and McBean Parkway on my way to church.
  • At the intersection of McBean Parkway and Bouquet Canyon Road, the sole commercial area was Bouquet Center in the northeast corner across the street from the present-day Burger King and Best Buy.
  • By the way, Newhall Ranch Road ended just after that shopping center.
  • K-Mart was the sole department store.  Target arrived a year later in 1987.
  • The southbound Lyons Ave. exit was to the left of Carl’s Jr., not to the right as it is now, and it was without a traffic light.
  • If you stood at where Target would be built on Magic Mountain Parkway, you could see clear across the undeveloped land where the Westfield Valencia is now.
  • There were no Starbucks(!).
  • The computer monitors at Valencia Public Library displayed information in orange.
  • The traffic lights at the intersection of Soledad Canyon and Rainbow Glen Drives were not yet turned on.
  • People going to the swap meet at Saugus Speedway used to park on Soledad Canyon.
  • The south terminus of Whites Canyon Road was next to Ralph’s.  Yes, another cul-de-sac.
  • The father of my elementary school classmate owned a lot of the land around Newhall Ranch Road, McBean Parkway, and Decoro Drive.  Chesebrough County Park is named after him.
  • The bowling alley, Newhall Bowl, occupied what is now Valencia Lanes.  The theater next door used to show movies weeks into their run.  50’s Cafe occupied what is now Lily’s Cafe.

What other changes have you seen around Santa Clarita? Post them in the comments below.

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Francis M. Unson

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