Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Wild, Wild West!

Well, not completely wild any more but as close to it as you can get here in 
San Diego County. Trust me!

It was a pleasure to spend a wonderful afternoon yesterday at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House on the old Southern Emigrant Trail in the back country of San Diego's North County, map here. A place I've driven by many times on my way to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the quaint town of Borrego Springs, CA. Only today I was stopped in my tracks!

The sign read "Stagecoach Rides Here!" Really? Stagecoach rides? 
Now that peaked my attention and I just had to stop and find out more. 
And have a ride of course!

I was treated to a short, but reminiscent stagecoach ride around the property, a special event benefitting the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), the institution responsible for protecting and preserving historic architecture and cultural resources of our region. In addition to the ride, there were staff dressed in period clothing and knowledgable volunteers available to share detailed and interesting historical facts about the people who lived there and the place they called home.

If you have never visited the area and have an interest in our county history, this is a must see. Stories about a land grant, The Garra Revolt, Kimbal-Wilson Store and much more.

Warner Ranch is a peaceful place. With stormy skies as a backdrop and green grasses waving in the breeze, the cottonwoods along a small creek behind the ranch house still grow strong in this time of drought and harbor many migrating bird species. Red-winged blackbirds, red-tailed hawks and many species in between went about their business as our stagecoach, driven by two competent cowpokes, took us along the creekside and fields east of the ranch.

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch property acted as a way station on both the historic Gila River Trail and the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line in addition to operating as a pioneering cattle ranch in past years. Currently the 43,000 acre property is owned by the Vista Irrigation District (VID) and is still a working ranch today. You can see forever without another house in sight. It looks like I imagine the wild west looked a hundred and fifty years ago with wide open spaces, free to roam.

I spoke with a representative of SOHO who informed me of the ongoing property improvements and about future stagecoach rides. If you want to experience your own wild west adventure be sure to make reservations here and plan an afternoon to see one of our counties best kept treasures.

(For even more information, the ranch house itself has gone through intensive restoration, a process well documented with pictures, which you can see here. You can also read a descriptive article about the history and restoration hereEarly images of the ranch and property can be seen in the Library of Congress archives here.)