Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Bonelli Ranch Rodeo Program 4-26-1941
Saugus, California

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The future Saugus Speedway was built originally as a rodeo arena in 1927 by Roy Baker, brother of shoe magnate C.H. Baker. Baker Ranch Stadium was a completely enclosed rodeo arena seating over 18,000 fans. Over the next decade, ownership of the arena would change hands three more times.

As with a majority of the American populace, Baker was hit hard financially by the Great Depression of 1929 and was forced to sell the stadium to cowboy actor Hoot Gibson in 1930. Gibson continued to hold rodeos at the stadium and drew a Hollywood crowd including famous actors such as William S. Hart, Harey Carey, Tom Mix, and John Wayne. He also used the stadium as a movie set or leased it to other companies for film making.

In 1934, Gibson sold the stadium to Paul Hill, owner of the Western Livestock Stockyards. As with Baker, the stadium brought Hill financial hardship when it was hit by the great flood of 1937. Heavy rains that year caused a river of water to flow down Soledad Canyon and filled the stadium with debris. Hill was unable to afford the cleanup, and the stadium was repossessed by the bank.

Ownership of the stadium passed to William Bonelli in 1938 and was renamed Bonelli Stadium. Bonelli continued the tradition of rodeos for a number of years, but ultimately turned the stadium into an auto race track. Auto racing was introduced in 1939.

AL1941j: 9600 dpi jpeg from 300 dpi jpg of original program
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