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Exploring Sage Ranch Park and What Remains of Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Looking East with SFV in the background. Sage Ranch is on the middle left. Image courtesy Wikipedia. 
Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) with Simi Valley in the background. Image courtesy Wikipedia
I finally took the opportunity to hike Sage Ranch Park which is adjacent to the Rocketdyne Testing Facility (history and latest events discussed here and here) in the Santa Susana mountains. Some claim that even the park is contaminated as a result of Rocketdyne's improper handling of waste materials.

Sage Ranch Park was originally owned by a man named Orrin Sage who raised cattle after WWII. In 1990, The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy purchased the ranch for $4.2 million and turned it into a public parkland. Prior to the sale, Orrin Sage had to prove that the land and groundwater were not contaminated from Rocketdyne's activities which almost led to the sale not completing but the test results obviously ended up showing no contamination (LA Times, The Daily Republican, and The Daily News) [Update April 26, 2016: I received an email from Amy Sage Thomsen who provided clarification regarding the sale of Sage Ranch Park. She lived on the ranch during her first 5 years of her life and stated that the ranch was actually lost  in the 1980's after a loan for cattle was called early following President Reagan cutting milk subsidies. The family tried to save the ranch but lost that battle. So the bank took over and sold to the Santa Monica Conservancy which is not mentioned in the articles referenced above. 

Putting all the controversy aside for a minute as the cleanup efforts are extremely important to return this area back to its natural state, hiking Sage Ranch Park is easy and offers great views of the SFV, Simi Valley, and the amazing natural rock formations. I dont think there are rock formations like this in any other part of the world but I could be wrong. 

Going back to Rocketdyne, it appears that significant cleanup has already occurred in terms of removing contaminated buildings, test stands, sheds, storage tanks, etc. All of this cleanup is part of California bill SB990 passed in 2007. It appears that a significant part of the cleanup effort has already taken place based on images from Google Maps which are shown at the very bottom of this post.
Entrance to Rocketdyne, opposite direction leads to Sage Ranch Park.
The fork in the road; left leads to Rocketdyne, right leads to Sage Ranch Park. 
Boeing water tower (?) at the fork.
Overlooking the entrance to Rocketdyne from Sage Ranch Park. Over the hills is where most of the activity took place.

My attempt at a panoramic pic  from the same image above.
In the campgrounds section of Sage Ranch.
Old farm equipment from Sage Ranch?
Old farm equipment from Sage Ranch?
Walking down the trail.
Modern life mixed with the old. Communications wouldnt be possible without these antennas and satellites. 
Modern life mixed with the old. Communications wouldnt be possible without these antennas and satellites. 
Turtle Rock
Unique rock formations.
Rocketdyne facilities in the distance which is the location of  Component Test Laboratory  II (CTL II) which is owned by NASA.
The next set of pictures are from Bing and Google Maps showing the progress made in the cleanup efforts. When I compare Bing Maps to Google Maps, it appears that Google Maps are more recent as some locations show empty compared to Bing suggesting that cleanup efforts are well underway. I am not sure of the dating on Bing or Google Maps but it appears that Google Maps might be from 2012 while Bing could be from 2011, 2010, or 2009. Also check out's visit in 2012 which shows on the ground pics revealing the remaining test stands and structures. Also check out for an amazing collection of historical images and information. 

Bing Maps are on the top showing older site and Google Maps are on the bottom showing newer site.
Bowl area looks completely razed. 
CTL III looks completely razed.
Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) slowly being razed with a majority of buildings no longer standing. See second image from the top showing all the buildings.
Coca test stands; still remaining according to the Google Map pics.
Component Test Laboratory IV; dare to take a swim?
Alfa test stands; still remaining according to Google Maps.

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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