Rail Road & Real Estate Pioneer
May 13, 1825 – March 13, 1882
Henry Mayo Newhall was a California Gold Rush pioneer who was born in 1825 in Saugus, Massachusetts. Newhall was working as an auctioneer on the East Coast in 1849 when news of the discovery of gold in California reached him. He immediately packed his belongings, boarded a ship, and headed toward San Francisco through Panama.
As Newhall prospered, another up-and-coming enterprise captured his imagination — railroads. He began investing in fledgling new business ventures dedicated to building railroads to connect San Francisco with other cities in the West. By his fortieth birthday, Newhall had become president of the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad Company, and was completing California's first railroad track system, a line between San Francisco and San Jose to the south.
Real estate and ranching became Newhall's next great enterprise. He invested the profits of his auction and railroad businesses in San Francisco real estate and in the purchase of Spanish land-grant ranchos in central and southern California. Between 1872 and 1875, Newhall acquired 143,000 acres from Monterey County to Los Angeles County.
His most important acquisition was Rancho San Francisco, a parcel of more than 40,000 acres covering much of the Santa Clarita Valley in northern Los Angeles county. He granted a right-of-way to the Southern Pacific Company, and the first tracks connecting the San Francisco area with Los Angeles were laid across his ranch. He named the station Saugus, after his birthplace in Massachusetts. And the railroad named the town site he had granted, Newhall.