Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

30. The North Forty

egends of man-eating grizzlies grew in the late 1800s, thanks to the rude inscription that a Lieutenant Richardson had found in an oak tree at the top of Grapevine Pass — "Peter LaBeck, killed by an X bear, Oct. 17, 1837" (see Chapter 23).

Within two years after its 1852 discovery, the inscription was mentioned in official reports. General Beale speculated on who LaBeck was and what he was doing up there. Was he a settler? A trapper? Just passing through?

It is known that a party of Hudson Bay hunters were in the area at that time, but there is no record of a LaBeck or LeBeck being employed by them.

In lieu of fact, legends grew about the man who was, in the final versions, chewed up by a dinosaur-sized grizzly bear. In 1895 a group of Bakersfield residents known as the Foxtail Rangers dug in the ground on the south side of the mysterious tree and, six feet down, found a skeleton. It was a man about six feet tall with one hand missing. Whoever he was, the town of Lebec is named for him.

Just east of modern Lebec is a small lake which the Indians named Kashtuk, meaning "eyes." On Nov. 22, 1843, Rancho Castac (Castaic) was granted to Jos

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