Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ramona Epic #7: Rancho Camulos (Part 1)

(GPS: N34° 24.400 W118° 45.420)

There are two places that are usually thought to have influenced Helen Hunt Jackson as the rancho setting for Ramona. Rancho Camulos has been the more popular and traveled to rancho as the "Home of Ramona." In this blog I will give more of the real history to the place and in the next one spend a little more time on the fictional history.

Rancho Camulos is located in Piru, Ca off HWY 126. It is just east of Six Flags Magic Mountain which is near Castaic, Newhall, and Santa Clarita. The day I decided to go was not a clear sunny day. That was somewhat unfortunate, but I had already planned way ahead to go on the day I did. Had it rained on that day the museum would have been closed.

Rancho Camulos is an active ranch where you can buy fruits and vegetables right out in front. To enter the museum grounds you do need to take one of the docent led tours. I got there right before 1pm on a Sunday and took the docent led tour. It was very good and I highly recommend you do too if you can ever visit here.

This is the front. HWY 126 would just be off to the right side of me.
One of the first things you see inside the museum is the winery. You will notice it has been stabilized. When the Northride earthquake of 1994 struck many of the historic buildings were damaged. Family members and others with historical interest decided something must be done to preserve the remains. That is when restoration was started. In the year 2000, the ranch was made a historical landmark.
In the above picture, one just goes along the side of the winery as you can see, then take a left, and then a right to reach the main U shaped structure of the adobe for Rancho Camulos.
The land was originally part of the San Fernando Mission. In 1839, during the Mexican period of California history, Antonio del Valle received the land as part of a land grant for his military service. Unfortunately for him, he died a few years after this and his family inherited the land. His son, Ygnacio del Valle, inherited Rancho Camulos and is credited for building the adobe.

These next three pictures show you the U shape of the adobe. On the right of the next picture is where the cooking and laundry took place.
The middle section.
The southern portion of the adobe. In the next blog I will cover the southern veranda just on the other side which is what most people that know of the connection with Ramona will identify the story with.
This is the inside of the middle section I showed above. It is interesting to note that each of these doors lead to separate rooms. In order to visit someone else in another room you would have to enter from the outside since there are no passage ways from the inside.
Up until the early 1860's, the rancho was used for raising cattle. Then a drought occurred that bankrupted many cattlemen in the area. It was at that time that the rancho transitioned into growing agricultural products where everything from olives and grapes for wine and brandy, to chili peppers, appricots, figs, corn, oranges, and almonds to name a few of the things that were grown here. You name it they grew it.

Ygnacio was over the age of 40 when he married a 15 year old Ysabel. Keep in mind that was common for the time period. Ysabel inherited the property when Ygnacio died in 1880. I will mention Ysabel again in the next blog, but it was during 1881 that Helen Hunt Jackon visited the Rancho for a few hours. She did not meet Ysabel, but talked to the del Valle children instead.

Later on in the 1920's, August and Mary Rubel family purchased the rancho. August Rubel was wealthy and educated. He served in WWI and WWII. Unfortunately, he was killed by a German land mine while driving an ambulance in Tunesia. Rubel family members are still connected with the rancho and are credited as helping to create the museum for the public today.

All of the above people have fascinating stories of their own. Much could be said of each of them. While a few of the above people will be mentioned again in the next blog as I continue this I want to transition more into the fictional history as I show the southern veranda.