Texas Canyon Hotshots History

19 wildland firefighters in sooty yellow nomex shirts posing for a photo on  a roadside.

Historic crew photo of the Texas Canyon Hotshots (link to a FlickR photostream)


The Texas Canyon Hotshot Crew, located on the outskirts of the Santa Clarita Valley, was established in 1954 as a fire suppression and project crew. Early maps indicate that in 1926, the Texas Canyon Guard Station and three other Forest Fire Guard Stations were in service on the Saugus District of the Angeles National Forest. The Texas Canyon Guard Station and Hotshot Crew were named after Texas Canyon, a tributary to Bouquet Canyon located approximately two miles south of the station. In the late 1860’s two brothers settled a homestead on a parcel of land in an unnamed canyon, where they ran cattle and did a little prospecting. The brothers, feeling homesick, named their canyon homestead Texas Canyon after their home state.

In the 1950’s, the U.S. Forest Service received an Army Corps of Engineers contract for a stabilization and drainage project on a road under construction to the Nike Missile base at Los Pinetos (LA County Camp 9). Dick Dorn, who was superintendent of the Texas Canyon Hotshots at the time, was charged with obtaining additional manpower. Rather than hire locals, Dorn opted to recruit Native Americans from the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico. In addition to performing this project work, the Zunis served as firefighters on the Texas Canyon Hotshots. The Zuni tribal symbol of the Knife Wing Kachina, also known as the Zuni Bird, became the official symbol of the Texas Canyon Hotshots during this time. Dick Dorn reported that one of the Zunis would sketch the symbol onto the hardhats and another would hand-paint the symbol in fine detail. Zuni Indians served as firefighters with Texas Canyon until the 1977 fire season.


Longtime superintendent Ron Smith started his career on the Texas Canyon Hotshots. He served as the superintendent from 1975 until his retirement on the Marre Fire in 1993.


John Thomas served as a crewman in 1977,foreman from 1984 to 1993 and superintendent from 1993 to 2002.


John Armstrong served as foreman from 1990 to 2002 and has served as superintendent since 2002.

Crew Superintendents

Name Dates
John Armstrong 2002-present
John Thomas 1993-2002
Ron Smith 1975-1993
Ray Guardado 1972-1975
Bill Harper 1964-1972
Leroy Hubenak 1961-1963
Bob Alvord 1958-1961
Dick Dorn 1956-1958
Ed Kolchowski 1954-1956