Ghost Ranch – Basic History
Somewhere in California
August 5th, 2016
The Ghost Ranch isn’t the official name of the location. It actually has two official names, the ranch name, and the name of the last owner, but this information is being kept private in order to protect the property from vandals and curiosity seekers.
The ranch is located in a canyon with fairly rugged terrain, with the only access being rutted dirt roads with steep drops to the canyon floor below on either side. The drive to the location is not for the fainthearted or those who are afraid of heights.
This area is rich in history, stretching all the way back to about 6500 B.C.E., when the Tongva/Kizh people probably first settled the cave-filled canyons, using the sandstone shelters as homes. They inhabited roughly 4000 square miles of land in California, and at the time of European contact had a population of between 5000 and 10,000. Today, only 1,700 claim full or partial Tongva ancestry.
In the 1500’s the Tongva people had limited, brief contact with the Spaniards marching through the area in their unceasing search for gold and other resources to exploit. It wasn’t until after 1770 that these native peoples had any sustained contact with Europeans, which would end up having a mostly negative impact on their way of life and culture.
This area, along with many other acres of land, became the property of the San Fernando Mission, under the control of Franciscan priests, who treated the native population as slave labor. Once a native was baptized they could be held against their will and forced to live at the mission. Soldiers were stationed at the mission and were used to prevent anyone from escaping. Attempts to escape brought severe corporal punishment. Multiple witnesses, mostly tough-as-nails construction workers, have seen the floating shadow figure of an apparition dressed in a long, gray hooded cloak moving quickly through one of the fields on the property. These same witnesses refuse to stay on the property once the sun goes down. We have a drawing of this apparition provided by one of the witnesses, and the other witnesses concur with it.
In 1846 some of the Mission lands were secularized, with 116,858 acres becoming known as Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. These lands were granted to Eulogio De Celis by Governor Pio Pico. Over time this land grant was parceled out and sold to homesteaders.
This property was homesteaded by a woman who was living apart from her husband for many years. She purchased the parcel in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. When she passed away in 1939 the parcel was purchased by its last owner, who passed away over 30 years ago, leaving the property to his common-law wife. She held on to the property until her death over 6 months ago, in the year 2016.
The property now has a caretaker who watches over it and makes sure intruders do not access the property and vandalize it. The wild boar wandering the property also make for excellent, and very territorial “guard dogs.”
The property includes four residential abodes and a number of other buildings used for various purposes over the years. It is believed that one of the residential structures, known as “the chapel,” was actually the original homestead built in the early 1900’s, which is a small two-storey structure with the bedroom in the loft reached by an old wooden ladder. Just think of the “Little House on the Prairie” home, only on a smaller scale. The last owner probably modernized its appearance with improvements and repairs. The main residential structure was built in 1940, by the last legal purchaser of the property, and is still furnished with pieces from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Another structure, built in the chalet-style of the Alps region, was also built by the last purchaser, possibly as an artist’s studio or guest house. Finally, the last residential structure, which poses some questions regarding exactly who built it. It is possible that the original homesteader built it due to the small size of her original homestead. In any case, this other, larger residence was badly damaged by a fire, making it unlivable without some major repairs.
The property also contains a pet cemetery where family horses and dogs were buried.
The last owner’s affiliation with the Catholic church is greatly in evidence, with numerous statues, symbols and other iconography of that religion to be found throughout the property, both inside and out. There is a tradition passed down through some relatives that the father of the last owner was a defrocked priest, and upon leaving the priesthood married, started a family, and left his native country in the Alps region for a new life in the United States.