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Most Endangered

Rancho Guejito threatened with subdivision for new urban development

By Bruce Coons

Rancho Guejito c. 1984, view of the unspoiled landscape

Rancho Guejito is the best, last, most important, most beautiful, and most intact Mexican land grant. It is the least spoiled portion of coastal California from the Mexican border to above Santa Barbara.

In Southern California this is an undisturbed historical landscape second to none. There is only one new house in its entire 22,000 plus acres. There is an early California adobe and the ruins of several more. There are numerous archeological remains left by Native Americans.

When you enter this mountain top ranch you don't just feel the presence of the past, you are enveloped in it. A California believed long gone, straight out of the history books. It is not gone yet; this is truly its last stand. One cannot use too many superlatives to describe this extraordinary survivor of California as it was before American conquest.

If we were to preserve nothing else in life this would be the one. It is that important.

Rancho Guejito c. 1984, view of the unspoiled landscape

This is one of California's best kept secrets, situated on an elevated plateau privately owned with only one narrow winding private road for access. It is situated North and above the San Pasqual Valley with the San Luis Rey River, Mount Palomar, and Lake Henshaw and Mesa Grande on its North and East sides and Lake Wolford to the West. An actual hidden valley, truly the land time forgot.

As a cultural landscape it has few peers, an outstanding natural habitat; it contains the largest stand of Engelmann Oaks in the world, there are at least two major creeks, native sycamores and oaks, beautiful grasslands and unspoiled ridge tops overlooking its two principle valleys.

Rancho Guejito c. 1984

1969 view of Guejito valley shown through the window of the old adobe ranch house

No new development is visible when you stand in the center of the property. I first visited this land over 30 years ago and I can attest that it is an experience I will carry for my lifetime as it is for all who have been there. To say it is a special place would only serve to demean its true value.

You don't have to take my word for it; take the word of the late Benjamin Coates whose family still owns the Rancho. Mr. Coates was a man with magnificent land holdings all over the world, in France, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, New York, and Montana. He surely summed it up best. While gazing out his window on the rancho talking on the phone he was overheard telling the caller, "I am looking out at the most beautiful place on the face of the earth."

Photos by Bruce Coons

2007 - Volume 38, Issue 1


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From the Editor

Most Endangered

A Brief History of Rancho Guejito

Another Part of the Story

The Threat

The Beauty of our State Parks in Peril

The Cultural Landscape Connection to Historic Preservation

What is a Cultural Landscape?

The Historic Home Landscape and Gardens

A Short Landscape Glossary

Importance of the Garden in Home Planning

When was Modern New?

Every Bungalow Represents our History

History Repeating

The Sherman-Glbert House

150th Anniversary of the Jackass Mail


Strength in Numbers

Lost San Diego

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