When the Golden Spike was driven at Lang in 1876, tying together Los Angeles to San Francisco and, in turn, the continent-spanning Union Pacific, it signaled an irreversible change in the lifestyle of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Saugus Train Station opened 12 years later in 1888, following the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s spur line to Ventura.
To accommodate hungry travelers, a cafe known as Tolfree’s Saugus Eating House was established at the north end of the depot. It was taken over by Martin and Richard Wood in 1898, who changed the name to Saugus Cafe. In 1916, more room was needed for an expanded passenger waiting room, more railroad workers, and additional storage of freight, so the cafe moved across the highway where it stands today.
Cowboys would occasionally shoot up the depot as their way of greeting the trains. There were robberies, too, the most famous being the night in 1929 when “Buffalo” Tom Vernon derailed and looted Engine Number 59 in Saugus.
The last passenger train stopped at the station during April 1971, and freight train service was discontinued in 1979. The depot was closed Nov. 15, 1978 by the last agent, James Guthrie. Through a massive community effort, the building was saved and moved June 24, 1980, to its present location on land leased from Los Angeles County within William S. Hart Park.
The Saugus Station has been featured in a number of motion pictures, television shows, music videos and commercials. Films include “The Pilgrim” (1919) with Charlie Chaplin, “Suddenly” (1954) starring Frank Sinatra, and more recently “The Grifters” (1989) starring Angelica Huston and John Cusack. It continues to function as a backdrop for new feature films, television commercials and student film projects.