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Time tunnel invites visitors to Placerita Canyon Nature Center

Posted: March 4, 2013 6:15 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:15 p.m.

Hawks with wings frozen in midair, turtles halted mid-step and snarling mountain lions — all preserved through taxidermy — compete for attention with a lesser-known attraction at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center: a time tunnel of sorts.

Visitors to the center can journey back in time to the days of saber-toothed tigers and to more recent historical moments of gold discovery by taking in a tour of an elaborate six-panel mural set inside a tunnel at the center.

The mural — painted in the mid-1970s under the direction of past park Superintendent and painter Frank Hovore — provides a documented pictorial history of Placerita Canyon, putting a wide cast of wild characters into perspective, said its current caretaker.

“I inherited the job of looking after the mural,” said Ron Kraus, vice president of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Association, a group of volunteers at the center.

Hovore died in 2006 and took with him details about those who participated in the mural’s creation, Kraus said.
What’s left is a testament to one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s longest-standing attractions.

And, although its not the Sistine Chapel, the mural preserves not only the center’s legacy but also a form of artistic expression — wall murals — that Kraus said has largely been lost in the last half century.

In the last few years, volunteers at the center have talked about refurbishing the mural. But, for now, the underground attraction fits the bill when it comes to captivating visitors.

“We use it all the time for our tours,” Kraus said. “We take schools through and give a run through all six panels.

“The third- and fourth-graders ask questions and they’re usually about ‘What’s that guy got in his hand?’ or ‘What’s that guy doing?’ and I explain about prospecting for gold or whatever.”

Kraus said loves the mural and its tunnel home.

In the summer, he says, it’s his favorite “cool place” to go.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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