Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

President Benjamin Harrison Passes Through SCV (Without Stopping).

Webmaster's note.

In his "Tales of the Saugus Café," historian Jerry Reynolds (1937-1996) tells us President Benjamin Harrison stopped and dined at the SPRR Saugus Depot while waiting for a delegation from Santa Barbara to meet him there in April 1891. (The diner became the Saugus Café.) Typewritten notes signed by Reynolds in the SCV Historical Society collection show the writer based his information on an article published in the Los Angeles Times.

On further examination, although the Santa Barbara delegation initially intended to meet him at Saugus (Times, April 17, 1891), when the day came (April 24), the plans changed. After spending the night in Pasadena, Harrison was treated to a parade in that city the following morning, then traveled by train to San Fernando and briefly addressed well-wishers while the locomotives were swapped out. He then continued through Newhall and Saugus without stopping (at least not long enough to disembark) and on to Santa Paula where he stopped and made a somewhat lengthier speech. From there he continued to San Buenaventura (Ventura) where the Santa Barbara delegation was waiting for him.

The Los Angeles Herald also ran an abbreviated version of the Associated Press story that appears in The Times.

Click to enlarge.

What Santa Barbara Will Do.

Interesting Programme for the Diversion of the President.

Santa Barbara promises a rare treat to President Harrison and party on the occasion of the forthcoming visit. The citizens have joined in preparing for the entertainment of the distinguished visitors a most interesting programme. A committee will go by special train to Saugus, where the Presidential party will be met and escorted to Santa Barbara. School children, laden with roses and lilies, the G.A.R. post [Grand Army of the Republic] and the Spanish Brigade will meet the party at the train.

A grand flower carnival will be made a feature. After the dinner to be given at a hotel the visitors will be entertained by a Spanish dance, which will doubtless be a great novelty as a diversion. The citizens of Santa Barbara will do everything possible to make memorable the visit of the President of the United States.

President's Tour.

From Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Click to enlarge.

By Telegraph to The Times.

The Presidential train came in from Pasadena yesterday morning and was switched over to the Southern Pacific tracks at the junction, arriving at the San Fernando street depot at 11:30 o'clock. Here the engines were changed, and the handsomely-decorated locomotive selected by Master Mechanic Greggs of the Southern Pacific was attached. There was a large crowd at the depot, and the party was received with cheers. In response, the President and Postmaster-General [John] Wanamaker, with other members of the party, appeared on the platform and bowed their acknowledgements, but made no speeches, and in a few minutes the train pulled out for Santa Barbara, the crowd giving a parting cheer.

At San Fernando.

San Fernando, April 24. — Correspondence to The Times — The Presidential train arrived at 1:05 p.m. and made a brief stop for water. The town and surrounding country turned out in full force to greet the distinguished travelers. Dr. N.R. Hawk and family, who had an intimate acquaintance with the President for twenty-five years in Indianapolis, were at the depot, and through his efforts the President was brought to the rear platform to receive the bouquets of the school children and the hearty cheers of the multitude. A beautiful floral piece, in the midst of which was a fine oil painting of the old San Fernando Mission, was presented by two beautiful little misses, Catherine Hubbard and Jennie Hawk. Dr. Hawk introduced the President, saying:

Friends and fellow-citizens: I take great pleasure and honor in introducing to you the President of the United States.

After the tremendous cheering subsided the President replied:

"I am very much pleased to see you this morning, and also to see this old neighbor who lives among you. I hope he has won your respect and esteem as he did ours. I hope you will excuse me from speaking further."

The President was quite hoarse. The vestibule of the car was loaded with floral offerings, and a huge yucca bloom six feet high was securely fastened to the hand rail of the rear platform. Postmaster-General Wanamaker, [Agriculture] Secretary [Jeremiah M.] Rusk and others were greeted with tumultuous bouts of applause. —B.

Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara, April 24. — By the Associated Press. — After leaving Pasadena the train stopped for a few minutes at San Fernando, where the President was introduced to the crowd at the station by Mr. William H. Hawk, formerly of Indiana, and made a short speech. A beautiful arch of evergreens had been erected over the railroad track in his honor, and the ladies loaded his car with flowers.

At Santa Paula.

The next stopping place was Santa Paula, where the President was cordially received. Here was displayed the largest floral piece the party has seen since it left Washington. It was in the form of a sign board, twelve feet long and three feet wide, and was made entirely of calla lilies. Across its face was the word, "Welcome," in large letters of red geraniums. A committee boarded the train and presented the President with a five-foot model of an oil derrick made of choice flowers. A speech was demanded, and the President made a short address.

The President spoke as follows:

My friends: I cannot feel myself a stranger in this State so distant from home when I am greeted by some familiar face at almost every station. Your fellow-citizen who has spoken in your behalf was an old-time Indiana friend. I hope he is held in the same esteem in which he was held by the people among whom he spent his early years as boy and man. (Cries of "He is.") That you should have gone to the pains to make such preparations and to come out in such large numbers for this greeting, very deeply touches my heart. I have never seen in any State of the Union what seems to me to be a more happy and contented people than I have seen this morning. Your soil and sun are genial, healthful and productive, and I have no doubt these genial and kindly influences are manifested in the homes that are represented here, and there is sunshine in the household as well as in the fields. Our pathway has been strewn with flowers. We have literally driven for miles over flowers that in the East would have been priceless, and for which I am very grateful, and everywhere there has been set up as having a greater glory than the sunshine, a greater glory than the flowers, this flag of our country. (Applause.) Everywhere I have been greeted by some of these comrades, veterans of the late war [Civil War], whose presence among you should be an inspiration to increased patriotism and loyalty, and I bid them an affectionate greeting, and am sorry I cannot tarry with them longer. (Cheers.)

At San Buenaventura.

A short stop was made at San Buenaventura, where the President was received by the local militia and Cushing Post, G.A.R. The throng of people passed up to the rear of the platform to grasp his hand, and a committee of ladies presented him with several baskets of flowers and Japanese plums. Mrs. Harrison was presented by the children with a large bouquet of orange blossoms. The President was introduced by ex-Congressman [William] Vandever, and expressed gratification at their cordial reception.

At Santa Barbara.

The visit of President Harrison to Santa Barbara this forenoon was celebrated in the most unique and characteristic manner. It is the first time in the history of that ancient Spanish city that it has been honored with the presence of the Chief Magistrate of the United States, and that its citizens appreciated this fact was amply shown today by the enthusiastic character of their welcome. A large committee of citizens met the party at San Buenaventura [emphasis added]. It seems as if the entire population was gathered at the station when the train rolled in about 4:30 o'clock. A procession was formed at the station composed of a cavalcade of Spanish citizens in their native costumes, G.A.R. members and a brigade of children and citizens in gaily decorated carriages. The party was first escorted to the promenade Des Anglais, a beautiful drive bordered on both sides with the mountains dotted with picturesque villas; here they witnessed a battle of flowers participated in by ladies and gentlemen in open carriages so covered with flowers and green that they were completely obscured.

Each carriage was provided with a profusion of small bouquets, and as they passed in converging lines the occupants threw flowers at each other with zest and precision. The utmost good nature characterized the battle, which was pleasantly interspersed with merry laughter and badinage. Some of the turn-outs were real works of art with nature's most beautiful products as the bases. One carriage was a boat of violets, another was a mass of pampas plumes; the others were equally beautiful, being variously embellished with nasturtiums, wild mustard blossoms, marguerites, acacias, calla lilies, orange blossoms, marigold, wisteria, geraniums, etc.

The President and party viewed the picturesque battle from a grand-stand simply covered with flowers. There were four columns along the front, in the construction of which it is estimated that nearly twenty thousand calla lilies were used.

When the battle was finished, the President and party were escorted by the late combatants and cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen in Spanish costumes to the old Santa Barbara Mission. The party were received here by Father O'Keefe, the superior, and his assistants and shown through that historic edifice. By virtue of a special dispensation, the entire party, including Mrs. Harrison and the other ladies, were admitted into the Mission garden. The President thanked Father O'Keefe very cordially for the special privileges accorded his party.

The procession then escorted the party to the Arlington Hotel, where dinner was provided, after which the President held a public reception in the parlors of the hotel. There was a large crowd in attendance, but the usual handshaking was omitted.

This was due to the fact that the President's right hand is temporarily disabled. This was the result of excessive use since the President's departure from Washington and to a slight accident met with on the train just before reaching Santa Barbara. He was passing from one car to another while the train was in motion and in endeavoring to close the door behind him, caught his band between it and the jamb and crushed it so that it was not deemed prudent for him to use it during the remainder of the day at least.

After the reception a ball took place at the hotel, during which there were several old-fashioned Spanish dances by ladies in costume. This was followed by a banquet to the President, Secretary Rusk, Postmaster-General Wanamaker and Gov. Markham and staff. At the same time Mrs. Harrison and the ladies accompanying her, were entertained by a number of ladies of Santa Barbara at supper. Today's festivities were joined in by residents of all parts of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

In response to an address of welcome by ex-Congressman Vandever, the President spoke as follows:

Gen. Vandever, gentlemen of the committee and friends: If I have been in any doubt as to the fact of the perfect identity of your people with the American Nation, that doubt has been dispelled by one incident which has been prominent in all this trip, and that is that the great and predominant and all-pervading American habit of demanding a speech on every occasion has been characteristically prominent in California. (Laughter.) I am more than delighted by this visit to your city. It has been made brilliant with the display of banners and flowers, the emblem of our national greatness, and proves the other the adornment which God has given to beautify nature. With all this, I am sure I have read in the faces of the men, women and children who have greeted me that these things, these flowers of the field and this flag, representing organized government, typify that which is to be found in the houses of California. The expression of your welcome today baa been unique and tasteful beyond description. I have not the words to express the high sense of appreciation and the amazement that filled the minds of all our party as we looked upon this display which you improvised for our reception. No element of beauty nor of taste, no element of gracious kindness has been lacking in it, and for that we tender you all our most hearty thanks. We shall keep this visit a bright spot in our memories. (Applause.)

The president and party left here at 10:30 p.m., on their way to San Francisco.

Gen. A. McD. McCook and his aid, Lieut. Chauncey B. Baker, Seventh Infantry, of the Department of Arizona, who have acted as a special military escort to the President since his departure from El Paso, each took leave of the party at Santa Barbara.


Tales of the Saugus Cafe (Reynolds)


Envelope 1890


Dining Room & Letterhead 1890s


Harrison Passes By 1891


J. Herbert Tolfree


Charles Edward Tolfree


In Saugus Depot 1890s


Pottery Sherd 1891/1905


Replacement China


Advertisement 1895


J.H. Tolfree Death




Matchbook Cover 1938


Sandwich Shop Destruction 1941


Both Buildings 1955


Both Bldgs ~1957 x3

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