Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

A Golden Spike: Lang.
Sept. 5, 1976.


Lang has an interesting history. Its location was one of the original stations on the Cerro Gordo Freighting Line which Remi Nadeau operated in the early 1870s. It was in 1873 that he received his hauling contract from Judson and Belshaw for their famous Owens Valley operation. Other stations on the route north from Lang were located at Mojave, Red Rock, Panamint, Indian Wells, Little Lake, Haiwee Meadows and Cartago. Here, at the southern end of Owens Lake, the little steamer, Bessie Brady, waited for the trip up the lake where she would be unloaded some 18 miles further on for the last leg up to the Cerro Gordo Mine.

It has been written that Nadeau had 100 men and 80 teams on the road over Soledad Canyon going up into Owens Valley. Only washouts, a seasonal hazard, delayed his teams. After the way stations were built, the teamsters no longer had to camp out and do their own cooking on the trail; they could look forward to a hot meal and overnight accommodations. Those great days of freighting did not last a decade. The coming of the Iron Horse would end gradually not only the freighting but also Phineas Banning's stagecoach business.

Lang, or Lang's Station as it was known in the 1870s, was named for a John Lang, a dairyman who had arrived in Los Angeles in 1872. He was known as "Lang No. 2" for according to Harris Newmark, there were four John Langs in Los Angeles which must have made for great confusion.

In 1873, Lang established a hotel at this Soledad Canyon spot and commenced developing several sulfur pools nearby hoping to start a health spa. An article in the Traveler's Notebook for 1904 says that "not far from the station is a group of 10 white sulfur springs of great virtue." It was at this period that the railroad station and its locale was known around the countryside as "Slayton's Ranch" due to the station master being named Slayton.

In the nearby rolling hills of the Soledad country besides the gold, silver and copper mining operations, there was also borax. One such mine, the Sterling Mining Company operated until 1923 and during World War I shipped its borax from Lang to Bordeaux.

For a period in 1875, Lang's was the railhead as work progressed on the San Fernando Tunnel. Passengers for Los Angeles or San Francisco took stages to Lang where the southbound ones would embark on the far side of the mountain or "over the hill" as they jokingly said, and the northbound passengers would go "on the other side" to catch their train.

While the railroad was being constructed, four different grades were washed out in the streambed. Flooding was not unusual and has continued on to this day. The Southern Pacific finally laid its rails above the streambed, making use of small tunnels which had been bored through the protesting hills.

One of the stories that make the name of John Lang No. 2 remembered is that he shot a grizzly bear weighing 2,350 pounds in the San Fernando mountains. The pelt sold for a premium price in Liverpool.

John Lang was the first stationmaster and the depot which bore his name was typical Southern Pacific railroad product. Fairly large, it was raised 3 feet off the ground. It was constructed of board and batten with commodious living quarters for the stationmaster and his family. There was a living room and kitchen downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. The rear end of the building was screened in which made for pleasant living in the hot desert summers. Telegraphic quarters were located at the left front of the building.

After 1876, one passenger and one freight train per day passed through Soledad Canyon on the way north or south. The stages had stopped operating over the Soledad but the Ventura-Santa Barbara stages operated until 1886.

It is remembered by some persons that during the last years of Lang Station, the lady telegrapher sold pies and cakes as a sideline. The station was closed by the Southern Pacific in the late 1960s and the building finally torn down by the railroad. All that remains of Lang, besides memories, is a large plaque by the side of the road which reads:


On September 5, 1876, Charles Crocker, President of the Southern Pacific Railroad drove a gold spike to complete his company's San Joaquin Valley line. First rail connection of Los Angeles with San Francisco and transcontinental lines.


Plaque placed by California Park Commission in cooperation with Historical Society of Southern California, June 15, 1957.

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