The town of Saugus was founded by Henry Mayo Newhall who named the community after his Massachusetts hometown of Saugus. Newhall and Saugus were old western towns, with many of the residents having migrated from Texas and Oklahoma to work in the nearby oil fields. Several early western movies were filmed in the area and it became popular with stars who established homes or ranches away from the hubbub of the big city.
In 1924, cowboy movie star Hoot Gibson built a ranch and rodeo grounds along the railroad tracks and Soledad Canyon Road. Over the years, he hosted many shows, and the spectators came from the city to witness the events. Gibson attracted the Hollywood crowd and used his ranch as a movie set. He also leased it to other companies making films, but rodeos continued to be the main event.
William Bonelli purchased Hoot Gibson’s ranch in 1937 and built a quarter mile dirt track. Bonelli Ranch Stadium hosted a myriad of events, showcasing midgets and hot rods (roadsters). Later, the track was expanded to one-third mile and in 1954, the surface was paved and the named changed to Saugus Speedway. Saugus Speedway grew and gained in popularity, much as the rodeo grounds did before it. The paved track enabled the transition to stockcars, which was the primary race event through 1995, when after 56 years, the races went silent.
Today the property, now owned by William Bonelli’s grandchildren, hosts a thriving Swap Meet that started in 1963. They are proud to note that some of their current Vendors have been with them throughout the years the market has been open. Many loyal shoppers show up each week to discover what is new or find a treasure that is old.
The Bonelli family and its employees invite you to come out and share a bit of history in what is now Santa Clarita’s Swap Meet.