November 2008 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Sky high gas prices along with sluggish economic conditions have severely impacted our tour business for over a year.

We have reluctantly decided to suspend our tour operations for the remainder of 2008.

We will evaluate the prospects of resuming tours for the 2009 season.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who have supported us.


LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our  logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.


We support



Sat. Nov 8-2 p.m.

Multimedia Presentation

Echo Park Library

1410 W. Temple St.

Los Angeles 90026



Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.


Mules can taste the difference--so can you




It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.


Visit Michael Piatt's site,, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo for information on her tours with the Mono Lake Committee.


Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505



Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway.

     Click your mouse through the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.

The Pastor of the Valley

by Cecile Page Vargo

“He’s coming! He’s coming!” the neighbors would shout, as the first faint strains of Pastor Wornom’s voice could be heard over the crest of the hills to the west of Sunland/Tujunga. The sounds of his horse drawn covered “house” wagon, and his wife’s exuberant pump organ music

I’ve wandered far away from God,
Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
Lord, I’m coming home.


Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love,
Lord, I’m coming home.

accompanied his boisterous rendition of “Lord I’m Coming Home - Never More To Roam.” The sounds of laughter, and the coyotes howl echoed throughout the valley, welcoming the “Old Parson” and “Aunt Jenny” home at last,  from a circuit of preaching.

James T. Wornom was born in Illinois, the second child of a family of 14, with roots that could be traced as far back as 1700’s Kentucky. On August 2, 1862, James joined Company C of the 83rd Infantry to fight the Civil War. His tour of duty ended in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 26, 1865. Sometime in the late 1890’s, he married Jennie, who was sixteen years younger than him. Together, the two were seen traveling in their “house wagon” throughout Nebraska to the Northwest. They eventually wound up in California in 1893, singing, and preaching along the way.

Pastor James Wornom

In 1903, the wheels of the Wornom’s traveling wagon came to a halt long enough for them to pitch a tent beneath the thick oaks of the park in the Vale of Monte Vista, now known as Sunland. The large pasture near the park, a favorite spot for Saturday night square dancing, would become the home of the Free Methodist Church, where James T. Wornom would set up pulpit. An abandoned building that was once the home of the Baptist Church, became the first permanent Free Methodist.

Services were conducted weekly. James would ring the bell to entice the flocks to the fold. As the pews filled, the petite, normally soft-spoken Jennie, would come down the aisles from the back of the church in resounding voice, her eyes aimed up to the Lord as she sang. The Parson, a big raw boned, blustering sort of man, followed behind her, dramatically greeting her with an embrace as he approached her at the altar.

Jennie taught Bible classes to the children, and often rewarded them with candy treats for attending.

Wornom lived and breathed religion, singing it, preaching it, everywhere he went. He felt at his best as a traveling preacher man, but he also enjoyed spreading physical or spiritual help to his neighbors and other living creatures. Weekdays, in his beloved green Verdugo Hills, were spent drawing fertilizer and leaf mold for neighbors gardens, helping build houses and cesspools, offering prayer for troubled families, and just being available to hold a hand or lend it as necessary.

He was also a horse trader, with the most handsome well kept horses, and had a most mystical ability as a horse whisperer. Not only did he calm the wildest horse, he also was noted for his ability to train the community children to ride and care for horses as well.

In 1913 the neighboring Little Lands Colony attracted the Wornom’s. The Tujunga Union Gospel Mission Church was built in 1921 next to their home on North Sunset Avenue (now Commerce St.) and Los Angeles Street (now Apperson St.).  Local residents and visitors filled the pews of the chapel each Sunday.

Little Lands promoter and developer, Marshall V. Hartranft was a good friend of James and Jenny. The “Old Parson” often begged him to set aside land for a burial plot in the hills that he loved so much. Hartranft would always nod in agreement, but somehow never got around to actually doing so. In his 80’s, weak and needing to come home to the Lord he had devoted his life to, James again begged Hartranft one more time, “I’m almost ready for it, Marsh, have you given my cemetery?” Hartranft waited till the old man dozed off, then hurried to his office to check his maps for a suitable site. The following day, Hartranft saw the Parson for the last time. “I have your cemetery now, Parson it’s all ready for you. You can check it out any time you want.”

  Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1922


Loved Character Borne to Last Rest

Sunland Neighbors Bury Preacher On The Mountain


Coffin Carried Up Newly Made Trail To Grave


Graveyard in a “Roaring town” Considered Unfit

“The Parson of the Green Verdugo hills,” well known by reputation, at least, through frequent references of him made during past years in John Steven McGroarty’s page in the Times Illustrated Magazine, died at his home in Tujunga on Wednesday last and was buried Saturday afternoon.

The funeral was typical of the man and the place. It was proposed by the neighbors that the parson being whisked away in a hills that he loved so well and where he was so much beloved. The neighbors couldn’t think of the parson be whisked away in a fancy automobile hearse at forty miles an hour to a graveyard in a “roaring town.”

So they turned out and spent three strenuous days making a winding trail to a high hill at the foot of the Sierra Madres overlooking the vast sweep of the San Fernando Valley. And upon the summit of the hill they laid away in sad and solemn ceremony all that was mortal of their beloved companion. He sleeps now where he often sat astride his horse looking across the valley to the Ventura Mountains and the Calabasas Road.

Funeral Pageant

The funeral was a picturesque pageant and of a character never witnessed in these modern times. The body was driven by A. D. Kirchman in the parson’s old house wagon on which he and “Aunt Jenny, his life partner, who still survives him, had made innumerable journeys to camp meetings during the past twenty years that they have resided in the Verdugo Hills. The parson’s own horses provided the motive power.

At the foot of the winding trail the neighbors took the coffin from the wagon and bore it on their shoulders to its last resting place under the glow of the great mountains. A long procession followed, preceded by a squad of the American Legion, who fired a parting volley from their rifles over the grave. Two buglers, one at the grave and another on a distant hilltop, sounded “Taps.” The parson’s favorite hymns, “Christ is Walking on the Waters” and “We’ll Never Say Good-bye in Heaven,” were sung amid the fast flowing tears of the assemblage. Passages from the Scripture were read by Rev. j. R. Adams and a funeral sermon preached by Rev. L. E. Swaney of the Tujunga Union Gospel Mission.

In life the parson was James T. Wornom, and after the Civil War in which he bore himself gallantly as a member of the Eighty-third Illinois Infantry, he became an itinerant preacher of  the Free Methodist sect. Twenty years ago he located at Sunland in the Tujunga Valley, where he resided continuously until the time of his death.

John McGroarty’s Tribute

In the services at the grave John S. McGroarty was asked to voice the sorrow of the neighbors I their great loss. He spoke as follows:

  “Here now among these uplifted hills we shall leave all that was mortal of him. Here shall he sleep until Gabriel winds his horn on the last Great Day, and the countless and immemorial dead shall rise again to stand before the Judgment Seat of God.

 “And so, when he awakes it shall be in no alien place, but on a spot well known of him and where he was well beloved. His re-envisioned eyes shall behold again all that which he was so long familiar--the hills to which he lifted up his eyes and from which came his strength--the Mother Mountains at whose feet he prayed on bended knees and to whose high battlements he flung the challenge of his dauntless faith. Here where he praised God on winding trails in the golden dawns and the evening’s purpled dusk, and when the glory of the stars was upon him in the serene and quiet night.

Everlasting Hills

The world may change, as it will. Times may change and men with them. New gods may call and beckon and lead the feet of new generations upon strange pathways. But these great mountains will not change. As they are now, so shall they be when the trumpet sounds and the sea is called back and the heavens rolled and folded as a scroll.

“And God grant that we, his old friends and neighbors, shall be with him then as we are now--here among these near, familiar places, to look our last upon our mountains and just once again before the Lord God of the Ages crumbles them forever into dust “between the thunders of His hands.

“That on that last Great Day we shall greet one another as of old and go hand in hand, lovingly and good neighbors still, upon the swinging trails of the winds through the star-dust of the sky--serene and unafraid to meet the God who made us, sitting in His golden chair to judge the living and the dead.”



Founding sisters-Life Stories of Tujunga’s Early Women Pioneers 1886-1926

by Mary Lou Pozzo

Zinnia Press. 2005


The Green Verdugo Hills-A Chronicle of Sunland-Tujunga And How It Grew

by Mabel Hatch

Little Landers Historical Society


Parson Laid To Rest In Hills

Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1922


Sunland and Tujunga, From Village To City

by Marlene A. Hitt

Little Landers Historical Society

Arcadia Publishing, 2002


"Lord I’m Coming Home No More To Roam"

by William J. Kirkpatrick

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