Online exhibit: the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House.

Warner’s Ranch — West Elevation of Ranch House. 1960. Historic American Buildings Survey. Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Anyone interested in the history of San Diego and the surrounding region should visit the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House near Warner Springs. If you can’t, there’s an online exhibit filled with photographs and detailed information concerning this National Historic Landmark, including its construction in 1857, its fascinating history and restoration.

I subscribe to the Save Our Heritage Organisation email list. Their most recent newsletter is how I learned about this.

To view the excellent online exhibit concerning the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, click here.

I visited the old ranch house in 2021 and took some photos, which you can see here.

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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.

So why is the ranch house named Warner-Carrillo? The original Warner’s Ranch, whose buildings no longer exist, was established here on a Mexican land grant given to Jonathan 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 and burned down. 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:




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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Stagecoach ride at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House!

Today I had the opportunity to experience something amazing in Warner Springs.

Once a year, at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, people can ride an authentic stagecoach a short distance down an actual, historic stage line route!

Such a ride can be experienced nowhere else in the entire country!

I purchased a ticket for a stagecoach ride a couple weeks ago before it sold out, then drove up to the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House in Warner Springs this morning to enjoy the short but memorable adventure!

Warner’s Ranch back in the 19th century was a swing stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail stage line. According to the event website, “The Butterfield Overland stage transported thousands of passengers across the United States years prior to the Civil War as California’s first regular overland stage connection with St. Louis.

Travelers, packed elbow to elbow in solidly-built, relatively “elegant” Concord Coaches, would stop at the ranch house to rest and stretch their legs and sore bodies for a few minutes while new horses were brought up from the nearby barn. Passengers could buy useful items in the ranch’s one-room trading post before resuming their dusty, bumpy journey.

This afternoon I and other excited passengers got to actually experience a few minutes of that dusty, very bumpy overland journey!

If you live in Southern California, or plan to visit, I highly recommend going on this once-every-year stagecoach ride. You’ll also enjoy an in-depth tour of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, which is operated by the Save Our Heritage Organisation. SOHO’s mission in San Diego County is the “preservation of architecturally and historically significant structures, sites, and cultural landscapes.”

Okay! You want to see what the ride is like? Here we go!

Approaching the entrance of the historic Carrillo Ranch House at Warner’s Ranch, a National Historic Landmark.
I arrived early and will be on the first ride of the day. But no horses yet.
Here they come!
Two beautiful horses will pull the genuine Concord Coach, which is owned by the Save Our Heritage Organisation. I believe I heard the horses are Clydesdales. (UPDATE! I see on the SOHO website these were Belgian Draft horses.)
Another passenger waits as the horses are hooked up.
I’m pretty sure they didn’t have aluminum ladders like this a century and a half ago!
American eagle on side of the historic red Concord Coach, with E. Pluribus Unum.
Four passengers will sit inside the coach for this short journey.
Here’s my ticket!
We managed to squeeze into the small coach and here we go!
Looking at the countryside beyond an outside stagecoach lantern.
Looking out the other window at oak trees.
Were going down the actual historic stage route. It’s dusty and bumpy! A few sudden lurches took me by surprise–like some sort of amusement park ride!
Mountains and cattle in the distance.
I did say dusty!
What’s this? Armed robbers!
The stagecoach driver threw down the Army payroll. The passengers got off easy.
We are allowed to continue back to our stage stop.
Yes, the experience is fun!
It’s over far too soon.
Another group of passengers is ready to go!
There they go!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Autumn beauty on Pacific Crest Trail in Warner Springs.

Today I headed out to Warner Springs in northern San Diego County. I wanted to experience an authentic stagecoach ride at the historic Warner-Carrillo Ranch House.

I arrived too early, so I drove a few miles further up State Route 79 to the Eagle Rock Trailhead, near the Warner Springs fire station. There I parked under some shady oak trees and began a slow hike south along the Pacific Crest Trail.

The short (perhaps half mile) segment of the PCT that I walked followed a dry creek bed. It passed through several swinging gates, but I encountered no grazing livestock.

In addition to many ancient oaks, I saw the autumn yellows of a few riparian trees–mostly willows it seemed. A couple sycamores I noticed had lost most of their leaves.

I also spotted interesting rock outcroppings and a distant woodpecker. And only a few hikers.

Had I time, I might have continued all the way to Eagle Rock–an impressive outcropping three miles from the trailhead that looks exactly like an bird with spread wings. I’ll do that some other day.

Enjoy these photos of autumn beauty along a very small part of the Pacific Crest Trail…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!