Rancho San Francisco
Henry, having made a vast fortune in the railroad business, turned his thoughts toward more real estate in the early 1870’s. He had already purchased several parcels of land and a multitude of vacant lots in San Francisco but decided to expand his “empire” to larger parcels of land. He turned his focus to the Spanish Land Grants that often held several thousand acres. The drought of the 1870’s wiped out most of the cattle and the Ranchos were being foreclosed on by the dozens.
When he heard about Rancho San Francisco going up for Sheriff’s sale, he wanted it immediately. He knew that since it was just on the outskirts of Los Angeles it would be very valuable someday. He also knew that with the railroads making major headway that would end up with the tracks going right through the property, made him want it that much more.
Ruth Newhall wrote in “A California Legend – The Newhall Land and Farming Company“
“When Newhall bought the ranch, the tracks were approaching its borders from two directions. Rails from the north were being laid down Soledad Canyon and to the south hundreds of Chinese laborers were digging the San Fernando tunnel, beyond which were the tracks to Los Angeles.”
“Newhall’s first move was to grant a right of way to the Southern Pacific Company. A town site, in the form of a square mile of trackside land, was deeded to the Western Improvement Company, a Southern Pacific subsidiary that handled the land that the railroad exacted as a price for bringing transportation to the area. The Western Improvement Company named the town site “NEWHALL”, and thus it remained.”
“Henry reserved two central square blocks for himself. He envisioned his town as a major southern metropolis.”
Henry’s vision for “his” town being a major southern metropolis is exactly how it turned out. The Five Newhall Sons and Newhall Land and Farming Co., did it right! The Santa Clarita Valley, the former Rancho San Francisco, is now the third largest city in Los Angeles County and the 24th largest city in the entire state of California.
The Southern Hotel
“In the name of his ranch superintendent D.W. Fields, he incorporated a hotel company and, on one of the blocks, built a hotel that was described by a historian at the time as “the best in the State outside of San Francisco.” Across the street from the hotel, Newhall laid out a town square, planted it with young trees”
The Original Plat Map of Rancho San Francisco from June of 1874
Rancho San Francisco at the time of his purchase in 1875.
Click in the box at the top right to enlarge the map