A look inside the historic Warner-Carrillo Ranch House.

One of San Diego County’s most important historical sites can be visited in Warner Springs. The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, built in 1857, is a National Historic Landmark maintained by SOHO, the San Diego-based Save Our Heritage Organisation.

The “Ranch House at Warner’s” preserves centuries of history. You can read a bit about the site and see some old photographs at this SOHO web page.

The adobe ranch house “represents Mexican and American culture contact during the Mexican Republic; the Frontier period of the westward migration; and the Gold Rush and the cattle ranching industry from 19th century Californio to 20th century to today.” Built beside the emigrant trail, many early settlers wrote about their experiences here.

Last weekend I visited the restored adobe. I went for a special reason. One day every year at Warner’s Ranch, visitors can ride an authentic Concord stagecoach down a short stretch of the old Overland Trail. For several years, from 1858 to 1861, the ranch house served as a Butterfield Overland Stage Station. Thousands of passengers stopped for a few minutes at this swing station as they travelled through the region. If you’d like to see photos from my fun stagecoach ride, click here!

The present structure, maintained today as a museum, was built by Doña Vicenta Sepúlveda de Carrillo, an early Californio woman rancher. It consists of two main rooms and several adjacent smaller rooms that were added in later years. One of the main rooms was the sala, or living room. The other served as a trading post–a small store where travelers could purchase necessities during their brief stopover.

Some of the smaller rooms include bedrooms and a kitchen, which featured a family bathtub, as you’ll see in my photos! The adobe walls are 18 inches thick, providing a cool inside temperature on a hot day. There’s also a pleasant veranda, where musicians were playing the day I visited. The veranda was built at the front of the ranch house, which faced the old stage route. As I understand it, the nearby barn, which SOHO also plans to restore, was for ranch horses and carriages.

Please enjoy these photos. I took few notes, and I’m no expert, so please don’t rely on anything I’ve written here as absolute fact. Do your own research. The history of the ranch is complex. Over the years it had many different owners.

One more interesting thing. The original Warner’s Ranch was established on a Mexican land grant given to Johnathan Trumbull Warner, an American-Mexican citizen and former California State Senator who changed his name to Juan José Warner. His ranch, a camping stop on the Gila Overland Trail to California, was attacked during the Garra Uprising of 1851. I photographed the burial site of Antonio Garra in Old Town San Diego and provided a brief description of the Native American Cupeño revolt due to unfair taxation here.

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House is open year-round on Saturday and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. If you’re ever in the area, make sure to stop by. Not only will you learn much, but you’ll feel the rich history!

Approaching the restored Warner-Carrillo Ranch House. (Interesting note: that brown modern structure to the left of the old ranch house contains visitor restrooms. I learned from Christopher Pro of SOHO that the restroom building design was copied from the historic Stein Family Farm in National City!)

The historical plaque near the museum entrance reads:

WARNER RANCH HOUSE

IN 1844, GOV. MANUEL MICHELTORENA GRANTED 44,322 ACRES TO JUAN JOSE WARNER WHO BUILT THIS HOUSE. GEN. KEARNY PASSED HERE IN 1846; MORMON BATTALION IN 1847. FIRST BUTTERFIELD STAGE STOPPED AT THIS RANCH ON OCT. 6, 1858 ENROUTE FROM TIPTON, MO. TO SAN FRANCISCO; 2600 MILES, TIME 24 DAYS. THIS WAS THE SOUTHERN OVERLAND ROUTE INTO CALIFORNIA.

STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 311

A major restoration of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House was completed in 2011. The ranch stands on land owned by the Vista Irrigation District.

The Vista Irrigation District has a really good web page concerning the ranch house and its history here.

Inside the sala, or living room, with its dining table. Some of the elegant furniture was obtained from William Heath Davis, who helped to establish “New Town” (present day downtown) San Diego.
A quilt being made in one corner of the sala.
The sala in later years became a ranch bunkhouse, which explains why the wood floor is branded!
A work room between the sala and veranda.
A bedroom.
A look inside the kitchen.
How’d you like to take a bath here?!
A look inside the children’s bedroom.
The trading post offered goods to stagecoach travelers, who’d enter from a side door, which is located opposite the old barn.
Soap, a bonnet, and other useful items.
One small room contains information displays and archaeological artifacts from the ranch.
A look at the old barn, which is presently in a state of arrested decay.
On this special once-a-year stagecoach riding day, musicians were out on the veranda playing popular tunes from the Old West. The group is called Jugless Jug Band.
Some visitors enjoying a short ride on the authentic Concord stage.

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History and beauty at Magee Park in Carlsbad.

Magee Park in Carlsbad is a special place where both history and beauty thrive.

I enjoyed a walk through the park recently, pausing frequently to admire its several historical structures.

Everywhere I walked, it seemed, beds of roses greeted me. Magee Park’s rose garden is so beautiful and extensive that the American Rose Society called Carlsbad “An American Rose City” in 2002.

The centerpiece of the park is the 1887 Magee House, a handsome Craftsman-style house built by Samuel Church Smith, one of the founders of Carlsbad Land and Water Company. Today it is home to the Carlsbad Historical Society and their museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I walked past. Read more about the Magee House’s history here.

Other historic structures in Magee Park include the Shipley-Magee Barn, Heritage Hall, the Twin Inns Granary and the Twin Inns Gazebo.

During my meandering walk, I photographed many of the informative signs and plaques that I came upon.

During Carlsbad’s agricultural past a variety of barn styles were constructed.
The barn at Magee Historical Park is the oldest Carlsbad barn in existence. This sign on the barn’s side details its history, and tells a little about the life of Florence Shipley and her husband Hugh Magee.
Vast areas of present day Carlsbad were once used to raise cattle and horses.
Heritage Hall in Carlsbad, California.

HERITAGE HALL

HERITAGE HALL WAS BUILT IN 1926 AS THE ORIGINAL SANCTUARY OF ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH. IN 1952 IT BECAME CARLSBAD’S FIRST CITY HALL AND POLICE STATION; IN THE 1960’S THE FIRST LIBRARY, THE FIRST CHILDREN’S LIBRARY AND LATER A BALLET STUDIO. IN 1979 THE HALL WAS MOVED TO ITS PRESENT SITE WITH THE HELP OF FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY, THE CARLSBAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY, AND VOLUNTEERS. IT IS NOW A COMMUNITY MEETING HALL.

The Twin Inns Granary.

THE TWIN INNS GRANARY

ORIGINALLY BUILT BY EDDIE KENTNER, PROPRIETOR OF THE WORLD FAMOUS CARLSBAD TWIN INNS, THIS GRANARY WAS DONATED TO THE CITY OF CARLSBAD BY NEIMAN’S VILLAGE FAIRE AND MOVED TO MAGEE PARK IN 1985. IT WAS RESTORED THROUGH THE GENEROUS ASSISTANCE OF THE CARLSBAD EVENING ROTARY CLUB.

Now I’ve begun to walk around the Magee House…

A time capsule in front of the Magee House placed by the Carlsbad Historical Society. It will be opened July 4, 2076, our nation’s Tricentennial.
Roses by the Magee House’s welcoming veranda.
Circular patio with birdbath beside the Magee House. More roses.
The old Twin Inns Gazebo nearby.
Continuing my walk around the Magee House.

As I walked through wide, grassy Magee Park, I noticed it has several trees with dedication plaques.

I found three of them…

25 years of friendship with sister city Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
In loving memory of Doris A. Gordon.
Mary Jane Joseph. Proud resident of Carlsbad.

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Photos outside the historic Stein Family Farm.

The other day I walked down a National City sidewalk past the historic Stein Family Farm. It was closed at the time, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so I took these outside photographs!

I spoke over the fence briefly to a couple of nice ladies near the farmhouse and a gentleman volunteer. I vowed that one day I’d return and take a tour!

The Stein Family Farm was once home to Charles Stein, an immigrant German farmer, his wife Bertha and five children. The construction of the Otay Dam in 1897 caused flooding to the Stein’s original property near Mexico, so the family moved to this National City location in 1900.

The 2-acre Stein Family Farm Museum includes their house, barn containing many antique farm implements and vehicles, and other structures, as well as farm animals (from around the world!) and an orchard containing a variety of fruit trees, which you can see in the last two photos.

I learned that second house you see in my photos, a 19th century Queen Anne Victorian, was recently relocated to the museum grounds. It awaits restoration.

Check out the Stein Family Farm’s website for more information here!

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Meet Don and Dulce, Old Town’s donkeys.

I took another walk today…

Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign near Seeley Stable Museum. Let's go see the donkeys!
Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign beside Seeley Stable Museum. Let’s go see the donkeys!

Is this one of the donkeys. Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can sit on this wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.
Is this one of the donkeys? Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can ride this docile wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.

Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.
Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.

California State Park rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!
California State Park Rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!

It's 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I'm told. I saw some evidence of that!
It’s 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I’m told. I saw some evidence of that!

Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it's a she--I didn't ask) is the friendlier donkey.
Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it’s a she–I didn’t ask) is the friendlier donkey.

But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!
But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!

Visiting school kids, with the help of Don and Dulce, can learn what life was like (particularly for a donkey) in the very early days of San Diego.

Four things I learned during my brief visit:

Donkeys were a preferred draft and pack animal because of their spine, which pound for pound is much stronger than a horse. A donkey can pull half its weight.

Donkeys are closely related to the zebra.

Don and Dulce are rescue animals.

Old Town has fun surprises around every corner!

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Seeley Stable’s stagecoaches and freight wagons.

Front of the Seeley Stable Museum in Old Town.
Front of the Seeley Stable Museum in Old Town San Diego.

Perhaps my favorite part of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is the Seeley Stable Museum.

The huge old barn and surrounding area were once owned by Albert Seeley, who ran the San Diego-Los Angeles Stage Line from 1868 to 1877.  His Concord stagecoaches left San Diego at 5 am, stopped overnight at San Juan Capistrano, and arrived in Los Angeles at 4 pm the next day.  Eventually competition with the railroad put him out of business.

Sign on the Blacksmith Shop behind Seeley Stable.
Sign on the Blacksmith Shop behind Seeley Stable.

Behind the Seeley Stable is a cool blacksmith shop, where tourists can watch skilled hobbyists demonstrate the shaping of red hot iron.   The hammers ring loudly and the sparks fly!  Unfortunately it wasn’t open the day I took these photos.

Covered wagon, anvils and relics of the Old West behind Seeley Stable.
Covered wagon, anvils and relics of the Old West behind Seeley Stable.

Across from the blacksmith you’ll find this.  Very cool!

Several unrestored wagons.
Several unrestored wagons.

Peering through old wagon wheels.
Peering through old wagon wheels.

Donkey awaits young visitors to historic Seeley Stable.
Donkey awaits young visitors to historic Seeley Stable.

On the south side of the stable you’ll find a couple of donkeys, which are used by park rangers to teach children about life in the Old West.

Stagecoach from the Los Angeles and San Diego route.
Concord stagecoach from the Los Angeles to San Diego route.

Finally, we’re inside the museum!  You can see many different wagons and stagecoaches inside the dark old barn, plus other artifacts from life one and a half centuries ago.

Museum display with horse and saddles recreates the old stable.
Museum display with horse and saddles recreates the old stable.

Huge freight wagon on display at Seeley Stable.
Huge freight wagon on display at Seeley Stable.

Old Wells Fargo wagon once used to transport the mail.
Old Wells Fargo wagon once used to transport the mail.

Old Town San Diego park ranger chats with ticket window lady.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park ranger chats with friendly lady at the ticket window.

The Seeley Stable Museum is free!

UPDATE!

Here are a few more interesting and informative photos that I took inside the museum in August 2017…

Roscoe E. "Pappy" Hazard was a developer and rancher who collected stagecoaches, carriages and wagons from the Old West. Many are displayed in Seeley Stable.
Roscoe E. “Pappy” Hazard was a developer and rancher who collected stagecoaches, carriages and wagons from the Old West. Many are displayed today in Old Town’s Seeley Stable Museum.

In 1869, Albert L. Seeley transformed the nearby Bandini adobe into the two-story Cosmopolitan Hotel, which became Old Town's stage depot and social center.
In 1869, Albert L. Seeley transformed the nearby Bandini adobe into the two-story Cosmopolitan Hotel, which became Old Town’s stage depot and social center.

Photo of Seeley Stable's barn and yard taken from Presidio Hill in 1872. The Cosmopolitan Hotel can be seen on the right.
Photo of Seeley Stable’s barn and yard taken from Presidio Hill in 1872. The Cosmopolitan Hotel can be seen on the right.

Map shows important stagecoach routes, including the Butterfield Overland, and the Birch's Line from San Antonio to San Diego.
Map shows important stagecoach routes, including the Butterfield Overland, and the Birch’s Line from San Antonio to San Diego.

Signs and old photos concerning freight wagons in the Old West, which often employed large teams of mules.
Signs and old photos concerning freight wagons in the Old West, which often employed large teams of mules.

Spaniards introduced mules to America along with the horse. Hardy pack mules were used by trappers to haul furs, and by gold miners to move supplies and equipment.
Spaniards introduced mules to America along with the horse. Hardy pack mules were used by trappers to haul furs, and by gold miners to move supplies and equipment.

This delivery wagon was brought to San Diego by Frank Kimball in 1868. It was used to show passengers land that he had for sale in National City.
This delivery wagon was brought to San Diego by Frank Kimball in 1868. It was used to show passengers land that he had for sale in National City.

This old Park Wagon was used by rancher Walter Vail. He owned land in Arizona, Santa Rosa island off the coast of California, and Warner's Ranch northeast of San Diego.
This old Park Wagon was used by cattle rancher Walter Vail. He owned a land in Arizona, Santa Rosa island off the coast of California, and Warner’s Ranch northeast of San Diego.

How part of the stable might have once appeared. Stable hands had many chores, including feeding, watering and grooming animals, and cleaning stalls.
How a corner of the stable might have once appeared. Stable hands had many chores, including feeding, watering and grooming animals, and cleaning stalls.

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The barn-like Farm House on Bankers Hill.

the red farm house on bankers hill

This big red barn-like house can be found on Bankers Hill, near Laurel Street and First Avenue, just north of downtown San Diego. A small sign in front indicates that this fun structure is the “Farm House”. Many other interesting Victorian homes abound in the neighborhood, but this cool sight always hogs my attention!

Another pic of the barn-like Farm House on Bankers Hill.
Another pic of the barn-like Farm House on Bankers Hill.

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