Tel: (818) 347-9665 PST

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun FREE things to do in the San Fernando Valley: Garden of the Gods

The San Fernando Valley offers hundreds, if not thousands, of free things to do on your day off if you just take a look around.   I recently came across a blogpost showing a postcard of the ‘Sphynx Rock in Chatsworth Park’ which featured a close-up of the railway handcart with two men on the tracks. 

Sphynx Rock Chatsworth Park Canyon - vintage postcard in the Archives of the Museum of the 
San Fernando Valley - gift of Gerald Fecht September 2009

I’d never heard of the Sphynx Rock and wondered what it looked like now so I did a little digging.  I checked the museum’s copy of The San Fernando Valley, a book by Jackson Mayers (1976) but came up empty handed.   The internet didn’t yield much when searching ‘“Sphynx Rock” Chatsworth’ so I tried changing the spelling to Sphinx, which did work.  This led to an enjoyable hour-long trip through Iverson Movie Ranch history on this blog.  The website not only showed me photos of the Sphinx Rock (it didn’t look like the postcard), but also pointed me towards a map of its location (in what is now called Garden of the Gods).

Copy of the postcard in hand (along with the map, a camera, and a bottle of water) I set out for Sphinx Rock on my next free day.  There was plenty of parking and no one else around.  The view overlooking the Valley was amazing, the lizards were scurrying, and the wildflowers were blooming. 

It’s a very short and easy hike to Sphinx Rock.  Unfortunately it wasn’t the same Sphinx Rock as the postcard.  But as I looked around I saw remnants of movie history (a mounted camera track).  

Wandering in the Garden of the Gods I turned a corner and found this view across the street!!

It was a beautiful ‘road trip through history’ in the Valley.  There was no admission fee and my search for a match to the postcard was achieved.  There are still mysteries to be solved- does the train still run through there and when was it built? Are the rock formations there known by any specific names? Those questions will be brought to the Chatsworth Historical Society on the first Sunday of the month, when they are open.

3 comments: said...

keep on truking.

Steven Lester said...

Concerning the railroad, it was built by the Southern Pacific as their Coast Line from Montalvo, which is close to Ventura, during the beginning of the first decade of the 1900's. They always had freight trains running along it, and several named passenger trains such as the Lark, and the Coast Starlight and Daylight, all now replaced by Amtrak's once a day Coast Starlight. The line runs through arrow-straight from Chatsworth to Burbank where it joins the much older Saugus line that goes to Mojave and the Tehachapi's. The SP was bought by the Union Pacific Railroad in the 90's which then severely diminished the frequency of trains on the line. Finally, the Metrolink bought both lines (to Oxnard and to Lancaster) for their commuter trains and they are the usual trains found now on the Coast Line. Several local UP trains still run on the line , mostly at night when the commuter lines are not running.

Tiffney Sanford said...

Thanks for solving the mystery Steven! It looks like a train journey is in my future.