Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Harry Carey Ranch Survey: HABS No. CA-2712
Harry Carey Ranch (Clougherty Ranch).



HARRY CAREY RANCH (Clougherty Ranch)
HABS No. CA-2712

28515 San Francisquito Canyon Road, Saugus, Los Angeles County, California.

USGS Newhall Quadrangle, 1952 photorevised 1988

UTM Coordinates for main ranch complex:
    A = 3572603818380
    B = 358480387400
    C = 3572503814260
    D = 3547003816240

UTM Coordinates for Caretaker's House (Building 9A): A = 3579303814910

Present Owner/Occupant:
Montalvo Properties LLC, P.O. Box 58870, Vernon, CA 90058


Nine buildings of the main Harry Carey Ranch complex comprise the Harry Carey Historic District. Eleven additional buildings and structures were previously surveyed and have been found to be non-contributing.

Harry and Olive Carey had the ranch house, and its various outbuildings, built during the 1920s and 1930s, a period when they and their children lived at the ranch. Both Harry and Olive Carey were members of the early motion picture industry in Southern California, but Harry had the more prominent and prolific career, performing in well over 200 films between the 1910s and early 1940s. Because the property played a role in the formative years of the film industry itself and specifically to the location filming done in the Santa Clarita Valley, it is strongly associated with a historically significant trend: the development of the motion picture industry in the region. The fact Careys lived on the ranch at various times during more than twenty years of Western film star Harry Carey's professional life. The property also embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction. The main house and other smaller adobe structures represent a distinctive type and method of construction in both their vernacular expression of Spanish Colonial Revival styling and in the individuality of its unique architectural details, such as the wall niches, built in cabinetry, and exposed telephone pole ceiling beams of the main house.

Nine buildings on the former Harry Carey Ranch comprise the Harry Carey Ranch Historic District:

    Building 1: Adobe Stables
    Building 2: Bunkhouse
    Building 3: Smokehouse
    Building 4: Joe's Cabin
    Building 5: Main Ranch House
    Building 6: Lower Garage (destroyed in 1994 earthquake)
    Building 7: Upper Garage
    Building 8: Wood Stable
    Building 9a: Caretaker's House

Leslie Heumann and Helen Wells of CRMS identified the district in a historic resources inventory and evaluation that they prepared (using State of California inventory forms, or DPR 523 forms) for 18 buildings and structures on the Harry Carey Ranch in July 1993. This inventory was conducted as part f the "Tesoro Del Valle Survey." The California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) agreed with the findings of the Heumann and Wells survey. Because the OHP concurred, it placed the district in National Register of Historic Places status "2D2" on January 3, 1996 in its history property database. This status reflects that each of the contributing buildings of the ranch has been "determined eligible for listing through a consensus determination," although they have not yet been officially listed on the National Register.1


This report describes the general character of the ranch property and the history of its development, both in terms of its physical history and historical context. Please refer to HABS reports CA-2712-A to CA-2712-H for information on specific buildings on the ranch. After the general description of the property, the following historical context is organized in two major subsections: a general discussion of the context of the ranch within the early film industry, and a subsection that describes Harry Carey, Sr.'s biography and film career.

The Harry Carey Ranch is named after the motion picture actor Harry Carey, who was the property's first owner. It is also sometimes called the Farmer John or Clougherty Ranch after the family that owned the ranch for about forty years. The Cloughertys held the ranch in the name of their company, the Clougherty Packing Company, the producers of the "Farmer John" line of meat products. Throughout this report, the property will be referred to by the more common name, the Harry Carey Ranch.

The Harry Carey Ranch is located in the chaparral-covered foothills north of the Santa Clara River and south of the Santa Clara portion of the Angeles National Forest. The property is roughly four miles north of Saugus and five miles north of the relatively new community of Santa Clarita. All of the ranch buildings, except the Caretaker's House, are clustered midway up a small ravine that drains into the west side of San Francisquito Canyon. The Caretaker's house is located about 0.5 miles to the southeast, on the opposite side of the canyon, at the main ranch gate on San Francisquito Canyon Road.

This remote mountainous area has historically served as ranch land, with the Newhall Land and Cattle Company dominating local ranching and land development for decades. More than anything, the rough topography and water scarcity kept the region from changing rapidly and ranching remained the prominent economic activity despite oil discoveries in the 1870s and the arrival of filmmakers and actors in the 1910s. Throughout the 1950s, residences located in the canyon's tributary to the Santa Clara River tended to be small ranches, where people raised some stock and kept horses. The communities of Saugus, Newhall, and Valencia remained small isolated towns with minimal residential areas until modern Interstate 5 was completed through nearby Castaic Valley in the mid 1960s. Suburban growth boomed after the freeway opened, and developers have been constructing housing tracts throughout the region ever since. Santa Clarita was not incorporated until 1987.2

The Harry Carey Ranch developed out of two of these local historical trends: ranching and the movie business. Although Harry Carey raised cattle and stabled horses on his ranch, and had purchased some of the ranch land from the federal government under a livestock entry, he was primarily a film actor. His work in the genre of Western films directly influenced the design and construction of this property where he and his family lived in the 1920s and 1930s. In the mid-1940s the property passed through the hands of several individuals, including John F. and Irene T. Blanchard and Laura Madeline Wagnon and Catherine McCaleb. These short-term owners reportedly planned to convert the property into a dude ranch. The swimming pool and tennis courts appear to date to this period, however, the project was not successful. The next long-term owners of the ranch were the Cloughertys, who purchased the property as a vacation retreat sometime in the 1950s. The Clougherty family held the property until 1998 before selling to the current owners, Montalvo Properties LLC, who are in the process of developing residential tracts on the former ranch land.3

The Carey Ranch and the Santa Clarita Valley in the Context of the Film Industry

The Western has been a staple of American film from the earliest days of the industry and California has played a key role in the evolution of the Western film, as with all aspects of the American film industry. The Santa Clarita Valley also played a distinct role in the development of the Western film in California. It is within this context — the role of the Santa Clarita Valley in the evolution of the Western film in California — that the importance of the Harry Carey Ranch can best be appreciated.

The birth of American film may be placed at various points. Arguably, the movies as we know them date to 1902, when the first dedicated motion picture theater was opened (in Los Angeles, appropriately enough). Mass interest in viewing films dates in large part to the internationally successful science fiction film, La Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), directed by George Melies and released in 1902. The first broadly successful American film was a Western — The Great Train Robbery (1903), directed by Edwin Porter. It told a classic Western story, that of a train robbery by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was not, however, filmed in the West; the picture was shot on location in New Jersey. Among its other achievements, the film introduced the actor "Broncho Billy" Anderson, who would do much to advance the Western as a popular film genre.

The American film industry coalesced quickly in response to huge increases in ticket sales in the mid- to late 1910s. In 1908, a group of motion picture makers and distributors in New York formed the Motion Pictures Patent Company, or MPPC. The MPPC members pooled their various patents in an attempt to gain a virtual monopoly on the technologies and receipts of this emerging industry. The MPPC, as much as any other factor, encouraged filmmakers to leave the New York City area, seeking studio locations outside the watchful eye of the film trust. In time, most of these companies would settle in the Los Angeles area.4

It was not obvious at the time that Los Angeles would emerge as the center of the film industry, or even as the center of the industry in California. In 1912, before most of the Los Angeles studios had been established, the Essenay Film Manufacturing Company had built a substantial studio in Niles, part of modern Fremont, California, near San Jose. The name derived from "S" and "A," with the "S" standing for George Spoor, the principal investor in the company, and the "A" for Broncho Billy Anderson. Anderson was already a film star by 1912, having made dozens of popular Westerns for the company in their original Chicago studio.5

The arrival of the Broncho Billy's Essenay studio in California points to another obvious reason the film industry was drawn to the region. The mild climate and diverse landscape of the state made it possible to film a variety of outside scenes, all within proximity to the controlled indoor stages (which would later be called sound stages). The California scenery could not only be made to approximate a wide variety of different motion picture locales, it was especially well-suited to the Western film genre because its western location resembled other western regions. Broncho Billy's move to Niles was an early use of the California landscape as a Western film set, a practice quickly emulated by others, especially the larger studios in Los Angeles.

The first Los Angeles-area film studio was the Nestor Film Company, which built a small studio in 1911 in the emerging community of Hollywood, west of Los Angeles. This began a long trend of motion picture studios being established, not only in California, but specifically in the Los Angeles subdivision of Hollywood, or Hollywoodland, as it was called originally. By 1912, there were fifteen film companies operating in the area. By 1915, many of the major studio names associated with Hollywood — Universal, Paramount, and others — had been founded and ensured that the West Coast arm of the film business, if not the entire industry, would be in the Los Angeles area.6

Westerns were staple products of this early film industry and all of the studios produced them. Even the emerging star producers, such as D.W. Griffith, directed Western films, in his case both on the East Coast and later in Hollywood. Griffith made his first film in 1908 and would contribute immensely to the structure, art, and industry of filmmaking. Before the release of his classic, Birth of a Nation, in 1915, Griffith, like most directors in the emerging industry, made hundreds of one-reel films. The industry produced a prodigious number of products throughout the early 1910s. Griffith made films in every genre, including Westerns. Many other directors and actors would similarly bounce from genre to genre.7

In time, the Western emerged as a specific genre that attracted actors and directors who specialized in it, often to the exclusion of any other genre. Whereas Griffith rarely made Western films after 1915, other emerging directors like John Ford would focus chiefly upon that genre.8 Western actors were even more genre-specific in their work than Western directors. By the 1910s and 1920s, Hollywood could boast a large cadre of Western film stars, including Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, William S. Hart, and Harry Carey, Sr. Most of these Western stars were well established before the introduction of sound in the late 1920s. Like many stars of other genres, the Western stars of the silent era often had difficulty in adjusting to the requirements of the "talkie" films.

The development of Western film production, with actors and directors dedicated to it, reflects some of the specialized needs associated with the genre. The stars, for example, were required to ride horses, perform fistfights, and other stunts not normally associated with other genres. The films also required unique sets that included a "Western" topography, as well as a great deal of outdoor filming to capture the stereotypical cowboy lifestyle of open ranges, ranch complexes, and Western towns.

In search of settings such as these, filmmakers began to discover the Santa Clarita Valley in the 1910s, recognizing that it was an advantageous locale for work on Western film. The valley is only about thirty miles north of downtown Los Angeles, but was sparsely settled in the early decades of the twentieth century and remained so until recent decades. In fact, access to the valley was quite difficult until the State of California completed the famous "Ridge Route" through the area in the 1910s.9 The primary economy of the valley prior to the arrival of the film industry was cattle ranching and oil production. The old downtowns of the communities of Newhall and Saugus could almost pass for Western fin sets at the time, dominated as they were by false-fronted wood frame commercial buildings.10

The exact date of the first Western filmed in the area is not known, but Tom Mix and Harry Carey, Sr. were two of the earliest stars to use the area. When the local newspaper announced Harry Carey's death in 1947, his obituary noted that Carey had arrived in Newhall in 1913 or 1914 to film Westerns for the Biograph Company. Mix may have first come to the area at the same time, reportedly in 1914 as a Selig Company actor. By 1917, the two actors were hard at work, Mix creating movie set location called "Mixville" and Carey creating the character Cheyenne Harry in John Ford's Straight Shooting, which may have been filmed on the Carey ranch property.11 "Beale's Cut" was another local site, for example, that was well known and provided a dramatic location for filming near Newhall. The cut had been made in the nineteenth century to facilitate wagon traffic through the area and was a deep and narrow chasm. John Ford used it as a backdrop in Straight Shooting and he would re-use the location in subsequent films. It is best known from a scene in Ford's 1939 classic, Stagecoach, in which Apaches attack as the coach passes through the cut, and from a famous scene in the 1923 Three Jumps Ahead, in which a double for Tom Mix jumped a horse across the 90-foot deep chasm.12

In relatively short order, the film industry established a permanent presence in the Santa Clarita Valley through two related developments: the creation of permanent "Western town" film sets and the settling of Western film actors on cattle ranches in the area. The two developments occurred roughly contemporaneously and Western film actors sometimes used their homes and ranches in their own films. Harry Carey, Sr. was one of the first film actors to settle in the valley when he took over the homestead rights of a previous settler in 1916. He and his family lived there most of the time through the 1920s and 1930s, and they operated a tourist attraction and film set there as well. The Careys were soon followed by William S. Hart, who hired architect Arthur Kelly to design a house in the Newhall area in which he and his sister lived after he retired from filmmaking in 1925. Edmund "Hoot" Gibson also bought a ranch in the valley in 1930, where he built his home and a rodeo grounds.13 [Webmaster's note: Gibson purchased the rodeo arena in 1930 from its original owner, Roy Baker, who built it in 1926-27.]

Towards the end of the silent era, in the mid to late 1920s, various other individuals and groups began to build permanent (or semi-permanent) Western towns in the Newhall and Saugus area, renting the sites to film producers. Tom Mix built "Mixville" in the late 1920s. Hoot Gibson took over a rodeo grounds near Saugus in the early 1930s, but sold the property by 1934. In 1930, Ernie Hickson built the most ambitious of such projects: the Rancho Placerita [Placeritos] in Placerita Canyon near Newhall. When the landowner sold the property, Hickson moved the set down to the junction of Placerita and Oak creeks and it became known as the Monogram Ranch, after that film company that leased the site. Hopalong Cassidy, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne were among the dozens of actors who worked on Hickson's set and the opening scene of the television show, Gunsmoke, was filmed there. Gene Autry later purchased the property and re-named it "Melody Ranch." The ranch burned in 1962, but it was essentially rebuilt in 1991 and continues to serve as a film set and the location for the annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival.14

The Santa Clarita Valley of the 1920s and 1930s was, therefore, something of a center of Western genre filmmaking. When Harry Carey settled at his ranch in the late 1910s, the relationship between Hollywood and the Santa Clarita Valley was just beginning to gel. Unlike William Hart and some of the other film stars, Carey did not move to the area to retire, but he respected Hart's work and hosted him at Carey ranch several times. Carey continued to perform in films for another twenty years after moving to the valley and his selection of the valley as a residence preceded by several years the construction of the first permanent Western town sets. As discussed below, Harry Carey would attempt to make something of a tourist attraction of his ranch, much as Hoot Gibson would do with his nearby ranch and rodeo grounds.15

The move of these Western film stars into the remote and picturesque landscape of the Santa Clarita Valley may be seen as the actors' attempt to cement an association in the public mind between these actors and the West. Ironically, virtually none of the early Western film stars were actually from the American West. Harry Carey had been born in Brooklyn. Tom Mix was from Pennsylvania. William S. Hart was born in Newburgh, New York, and although his family moved to the Midwest for several years, they returned to New York when he was in his early teens. The great Western film director, John Ford, had been born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Only "Hoot" Gibson, a Nebraskan by birth, could claim a directly Western heritage prior to his involvement with the West of film.

The move of Harry Carey and the other Western film stars (and the Western film industry) into the ranch land of the Santa Clarita Valley was the culmination of many factors. It was no doubt in part self-promotional; it has always been the duty of film stars to promote their own careers. It is also likely that these men had internalized their film imagery. As noted, the output of silent films stars was prodigious by comparison with modem film actors and directors. Carey, for example, made 19 films in 1917, all of them Westerns. He continued to make a large number of Western films through the period in which he built his ranch house in the valley, and although his rate slowed in the late 1920s, he continued to be a prolific Western star. In fact, by the late 1920s Harry Carey had been making Western films for nearly two decades. By the end of his career he had made hundreds of Western films and likely had spent thousands of hours on horseback. His contemporaries, Hart, Gibson, and Tom Mix had similar, if not greater, success, as did Gene Autry, who bought a ranch in the area decades later. Although their involvement with the Western way of life was directed toward the production of films, these men were surely comfortable with the facts of that lifestyle, having devoted such large parts of their lives in activities associated with the American West.

The Life and Career of Harry Carey Sr.

Harry Carey was probably the most prolific of the actors who worked in the Santa Clarita Valley during the early years of the Southern California film industry. Born Henry DeWitt Carey in New York on January 16, 1878, Carey's upbringing and early life were decidedly eastern. He was named for his father, Henry George Carey, who was a New York Special Session Judge and the owner of a sewing machine factory. The younger Henry attended Hamilton Military Academy, but turned down West Point to go to New York University where he played on the football team, performed in school theater productions, and studied law. Carey did not pursue a career in law and instead wrote a play called Montana (while recovering from pneumonia contracted after a boating accident). Carey's love for the dramatic arts solidified as he starred in the production of this play during its three-year tour in the early 1900s. Eager to recreate the financial success of Montana, he wrote another play that quickly failed and the actor was soon out of work. Carey's transition to screen acting came in about 1908 when he started working for the Biograph studio and its pioneering director, D.W. Griffith, at the Ft. Lee studios in New Jersey. His first work, Bill Sharkey's Last Game, was a nickelodeon film released in 1909.16

Carey heard that new companies were heading west and he followed the fledgling film studios that came to the Pacific Coast in the early 1900s, arriving in California in about 1912. It was not long before he was introduced to the Santa Clarita Valley, where Tom Mix and Carey performed in Light of the Western Stars, shot on location in 1913. Carey married Olive Fuller Golden, also a native of New York and a film actress, in 1916 and the newlyweds soon established a home on the property in San Francisquito Canyon that is the subject of this report. Harry Carey Jr., was born in Saugus on May 16, 1921, in the Carey's first wood frame house on the ranch. The couple also had a daughter, Ella Taylor (nee Carey), nicknamed "Cappy," who was born at the ranch two years later.

Harry Carry, Jr. states that his parents homesteaded the ranch property, taking over the claim from a previous settler in 1916, which is consistent with federal land records that show that Carey patented the land in 1925. The birth of their son four years earlier, in the ranch house located on the property, shows that Harry and Olive Carey had established residence on the land by at least that time, probably in 1916, after they were married.17

In the early years of his marriage, Harry Carey often worked in the Santa Clarita Valley where he made several of the many single-reel Westerns that comprise his silent film work. Olive Carey introduced her husband to director John Ford and as noted above, the two made the first of twenty-six films together, Straight Shooting, in 1917.18 Ford and Carey's collaboration resulted in the creation of the character "Cheyenne Harry," a role that Carey would play in at least two serials, but his working relationship with Ford ended in a misunderstanding that kept them apart for more than 20 years. Carey went on to work with many other directors and even wrote and directed some films himself. During Carey's most prolific period, the 1910s through 1930s, he, his wife, and his family lived on the ranch most of the time, but frequently traveled to New York to rent summer retreats elsewhere during the hot summer months and visit his film locations. Carey's credits include at least 233 films. His early work consisted of dozens of silent films, many one and two reel serials, and after the advent of sound he continued to take major roles in Westerns as well as other genres throughout the 1920s. He was chosen for smaller parts and smaller films as the years passed, doing more character acting after 1930. In fact, Carey's only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor, came from such a role, as President of the Senate in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Harry Carey died in September 1947 and his last two films, Red River (1948) and So Dear to My Heart (1949) were released posthumously.19

Carey was not the only actor in the family. His wife and son also worked in film, both well into their later years. Olive Carey made her first film in 1914, and appeared in several other silent films over the next two years. She did not work during the 1920s, when her children were quite young, but dabbled in the industry during the 1930s and 1940s. Olive Carey was most prolific in the 1950s and appeared on film only a few times after 1960. Her last work was for the television mini-series, Hollywood, (1980) at the age of 84. Harry Carey, Jr. has also enjoyed a long career, performing in over 100 films and dozens of televisions shows from the time of his first credit in 1947 to the late 1990s. The best-known work of his early career appears in 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and Mister Roberts (1955). Like his father, he began in the Western genre and his later career consists largely of character roles.20

Harry Carey was not the first to come to the Saugus area to act in films that were being shot on location. As noted above, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, William S. Hart, and later, Gene Autry were among the many who worked on movies and television shows filmed in the region. These men also shared a love for the rugged Santa Clarita Valley that had provided the ideal setting for many Western films. The Carey family embraced the local film industry earlier than most by running a tourist attraction on the ranch that catered to the public's general interest in the mythical West and early movie industry. Harry Carey, Jr. actually credits his entrepreneurial mother as the driving force behind the Harry Carey Trading Post, which was built in the early 1920s and successfully operated until 1928 when it was destroyed by flooding in the St. Francis Dam disaster.

During the ten years that they ran it, the Careys hired about forty Navajo Indians to live and work at the Trading Post, which was located on the west side of San Francisquito Canyon Road, where the main gate and the Caretaker's house are now. The Indian employees made jewelry, raised sheep, and operated the stores and restaurant, "The Navahogan." A brochure produced to promote the business boasted of the handmade crafts, such as rugs, silver jewelry, and baskets, noting that the craftspeople were the "only Navajo Indians off the reservation." The brochure included photographs of the Indians at the post, as well as scenes showing the 1,200-acre Carey ranch land. The trading post was a bustling and successful place and all the family members were involved. In fact, Harry Carey, Jr. and his sister spent so much time at the ranch in the care of their Indian nanny, Zani, that they spoke Navajo before English.21

To further encourage visits from tourists, Carey often spent his own money to improve and maintain San Francisquito Road, which was the main road into the San Joaquin Valley at the time. In the mid 1920s Carey invested thousands of dollars to repair frequent washouts of the unpaved road. The washouts were minor in comparison to the disaster that struck the valley in 1928 when the St. Francis Dam broke on March 12, flooding the entire canyon and killing more than 450 people. The Trading Post was complete destroyed, but the Carey ranch home complex (the subject of this survey) was not damaged because it was located at a higher elevation, above the river wash, which was directly in the path of the flood. Ironically, the main house burned down just four years later, in 1932, and the Careys replaced it with the current adobe building that rests on the same site.22

Carey's ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley can, therefore, be characterized as one of many properties in the area related to the film industry, specifically the Western genre. Even though Carey is regarded as one of the great early Western film stars, his fame has not proven to be as enduring as it was for some of his Santa Clarita Valley neighbors. A recent biography summarized his career by saying,

Carey's Western hero — defined by the actor's sensitive, modest and utterly likeable personality — frequently confronted with moral dilemmas rather than athletic challenges, is clearly closer to William S. Hart's mould than that of Tom Mix. Though admired by many, including the future Western mega-stars, Gary Cooper and John Wayne, Harry Carey had to accept a position inferior to both Hart and Mix — probably because of the lesser impact of his most important Westerns.23

Ranch Owners after 1945

The next long-term owners of the Carey ranch were the Clougherty family. Bernard and Francis Clougherty were born and raised in Los Angeles where their Irish parents had emigrated. Barney's f1rst job was as a traveling supervisor working for a meat company called Wilson & Co. Francis, while the younger brother worked for the trucking branch of a railroad company transporting pork bellies and hocks from Colorado to California. In 1931 they decided to combine their experience and established their own firm, Clougherty Brothers. The company struggled for several years to make a place for itself because, at that time, Los Angeles was home to dozens of packing plants and slaughterhouses. The competition was also particularly stiff because meats were not sold in prepackaged units; rather the various types were delivered to butchers who cut the meat to order. The Cloughertys' business took an important step when it acquired Woodward-Bennett, a Los Angeles area packer that handled beef, pork, and lamb. The acquisition positioned them well for the era of post-war economic expansion in the 1950s. Along with the decision to limit their production to pork only and to change their product to the easy to read brand name "Farmer John," the brothers ensured continuing success. Currently, Francis' children (Bernard, Joe, Anthony and Kathleen) are all involved in operating the family-owned company. The Farmer John slaughterhouse and packing plant occupies ten acres in Vernon, California, and is one of the few such plants that remains in what was once the center of the Los Angeles meat industry.24

During the late 1940s the owners of the Harry Carey Ranch had reportedly tried to start a dude ranch on the property, but failed. When the Cloughertys purchased the ranch, around the time that they introduced their new brand name in 1953, they intended to raise hogs on the ranch to supply the company's Vernon plant. This effort was never very successful because the climate was too hot and dry for the animals. Various metal-sided sheds and barns, as well as animal pens and other outbuildings used in this attempt, were once scattered along the ravine uphill from the main house complex, but most of these structures are now gone. Even though they did not use the ranch for pig raising, the family kept the property and apparently used it as a vacation retreat for many years. The Cloughertys made some changes to the ranch buildings during this period (described below), but none were major alterations.25


The ranch has undergone various construction phases since 1916, when Harry Carey is first associated with the property. At one time the Carey property included both the Trading Post complex and the family's private ranch house complex. The trading post was located just west of San Francisquito Canyon Road and was never rebuilt after it was destroyed in the flood in 1928. The ranch house complex, further up the opposite side of the canyon, may include buildings that date to the 1920s, but the rest appear to date to the 1930s and 1940s. Harry Carey's self-described "hacienda" set a precedent for some of the other film properties that were constructed in the valley during this period, such as William S. Hart's place, but it is a more vernacular expression of Spanish Colonial Revival style than the Hart home, which was professionally designed. Hart hired a professional architect who designed a two-story wood-framed residence that is more in keeping with the popular Spanish-influenced style, marrying various types of Spanish design. Hart's property also included several outbuildings, including a garage with living quarters on the second floor, a "poker cottage," and a swimming pool, while Carey's ranch complex (the house, several cabins and stables), did not include such amenities as a swimming pool and large tennis court until after he sold the property. Tom Mix established "Mixville" to recreate the quaint frontier quality that he had found in Newhall when he first came to the area in the 191 0s, working for Selig Company. By the 1920s Newhall and the other small local towns were paving their streets and automobiles replaced horse-drawn wagons, no longer providing a ready-made backdrop for Western movies. Unlike Carey, Mix himself lived in a modest house in town.26

The Carey family was in New York at the time of the St. Francis Dam disaster, and after the loss of the Trading Post, they moved to Beverly Hills for a short time. Harry and Olive Carey were both working on the film Trader Horn during this period and were too discouraged by the devastation of their property and the loss of Mr. and Mrs. Harter (the Trading Post caretakers) in the flood disaster to return to the ranch immediately.27 By 1930 though, Harry Carey wanted to renovate what remained and the family turned to the ranch for the rest of the 1930s. The original residence on the property was a more traditional wood-framed Craftsman bungalow, and many of the early buildings on the property were wood frame, but the Careys may have employed some adobe construction for other outbuildings at the main ranch. Harry Carey, Jr. recalls that most of the adobe buildings were built after the main house was built using that material in 1932.28

A 1920s post card photograph advertising the Trading Post shows a view of the main ranch complex before fire destroyed the original house, but the construction material of the buildings is difficult to discern. The smokehouse and garage (Buildings 3 and 7), as well as two cabins and another building that no longer exist, may have all been adobe buildings. On September 2, 1932 the wood framed main house burned down when an employee accidentally caused an explosion while attempting to fill the engine of the home's water pump. The loss was particularly great because the only copy of a completed manuscript by Carey was lost along with most of the other contents of the home. Harry Carey, Jr. believes that his parents soon saw this tragedy as an opportunity to build a home with a design in keeping with their view of a Western rancho. By early 1933 the new roughly U-shaped house was completed.29

The exact construction dates for the buildings of the main ranch complex are not entirely clear. County property assessment estimates indicate that the outbuildings were constructed between 1920 and 1946, but it is most likely that the buildings that exist today date to the period between 1930 and 1940. This shorter time frame is based on several factors. The Careys probably built small outbuildings in the late 1910s and early 1920s, such as those shown on the 1920s post card, but many of these buildings and the original house, no longer exist. On July 16, 1925, Harry Carey officially patented the original 160 acres where the main ranch complex is located and he patented additional acreage just to the north in 1926. His completed legal purchase of the land may have inspired some new construction, but Harry Carey, Jr. recalled that the family moved away from the ranch after the 1928 flood and did not return until about 1930. The Careys may have constructed the "Bunkhouse" and "Joe's Cabin" in the 1930s to replace housing lost in the flood. As Harry Carey's health began to decline in the early 1940s, and his children grew up, he and Olive began staying elsewhere for longer periods of time, leaving the ranch with a caretaker. Harry Carey, Jr. left for the Navy in 1943 and remembers that the only new construction during the few years before that was the Caretaker's House, which remained unfinished through 1945. All of these factors help explain the complex's lack of a formal plan, with the cluster of buildings arranged along the ravine in a fairly haphazard manner, and the flurry of construction in the decade of the 1930s.30

The first building a visitor would encounter upon arrival at the ranch is the Caretaker's House (Building 9A), which is located at the gate on San Francisquito Road. This single story adobe building with a full front porch currently sets the architectural tone for the property, but appears to be the last adobe building initiated by the Careys, perhaps as early as the late 1930s, but not completed until after 1945. The dirt entrance road in font of the Caretaker's House leads northwest across the San Francisquito Canyon wash, around the toe of the hill, and into the ravine where the main ranch comes into view. A combination guesthouse and garage (Building 6) was the first building along the drive, but the building was severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

With a wide front porch, tidy adobe fence, and tall trees, the main house (Building 5) presents a friendly centerpiece for the complex. The remaining buildings are arranged behind it as the elevation rises into the middle and upper reaches of the ravine. The lower garage (Building 6) and tennis courts are located closest to the house, with Joe's Cabin (Building 4), the swimming pool and pool house, and the Bunkhouse (Building 2) next. Smaller buildings, such as the Smokehouse (Building 3), Adobe Stables (Building 1), and Wood Stables (Building 8) are located just uphill from that. Although they no longer exist, there were at least two additional one-room guest cabins along the southwest side of the complex during 1920s. This collection of buildings provided the Careys with a gracious ranch lifestyle that enabled them to raise cattle, keep horses, entertain guests, and provide housing for ranch hands.

The ranch complex was fully developed around a Spanish-related theme with the construction of the adobe main house in 1933, continuing the precedence of the adobe outbuildings and the destroyed Trading Post. A previous study of this property suggests that the cubic massing of Joe's Cabin (Building 4) is similar to the southwestern style of the former Trading Post buildings. Most of the outbuildings of the main ranch complex, however, are simple utilitarian structures whose only link to either a southwestern tradition or Spanish Colonial Revival is in the use of adobe and Spanish tile construction materials. Undeniably, the adobe and tile unify the buildings of the complex. Yet, the Main House and Caretaker's House (Buildings 5 and 9A) are the only buildings with a discernable architectural style: Spanish Colonial Revival.

Assessor's records show that the swimming pool and cabana were built in 1946, during the short period when John and Irene Blanchard owned the property. The tennis court may date to about the same time. Construction of these recreational structures is consistent with the rumor that the Careys sold to people who wanted to start a dude ranch. Even though the Clougherty family owned the property for at least forty years, they completed relatively little new construction. It is not known when the smaller cabins and additional wood frame stable or bam shown in the 1920s post card were removed, but this might have occurred during their ownership. For a short time the family attempted to raise hogs on the property and built pens and outbuildings further up the ravine for this purpose. The climate, however, was not favorable and the Cloughertys soon moved the swine operation elsewhere, retaining the property as a vacation retreat. Currently, the only building that is occupied fulltime is the Bunkhouse. The Caretaker's House and Joe's Cabin are in considerable disrepair, and the upper and lower garages suffered significant structural damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.31


A. Architectural Drawings: none.

B. Early Views:

    "View of Ranch: Harry Carey Trading Post, Saugus, California," n.d. [ca. 1920s], Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society,

    Photo of Harry Carey Ranch, undated but probably dating to the 1920s, from Company of Heroes, by Harry Carey, Jr. (1994).

    "Harry Carey Trading Post," printed brochure, n.d. [ca. 1920s], Los Angeles Public Library.

C. Interviews:

    Harry Carey, Jr., January 26, 2001. Durango, CO. Telephone interview by Meta Bunse, JRP Historical Consulting Services. Davis, CA.

D. Bibliography:

    1. Published Sources:

    Carey, Harry Jr. Company of Heroes. My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company. New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

    Hoffmann, Henryk. "A" Western Filmmakers: A Biographical dictionary of Writers, Directors, Cinematographers, Composers, Actors and Actresses. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2000.

    Leon Worden. Santa Clarita Valley: A Concise History. Newhall, CA: Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, 1997.

    Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. "William S. Hart Museum," S.l.: Santa Clarita Valley Printing House Craftsmen: 1996.

    2. Unpublished Sources:

    Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Patent Records.

    Leslie Heumann and Helen Wells, "Historic Resources Inventory: Harry Carey Ranch Historic District," DPR523 forms on file with California Office of Historic Places (July 6, 1993).

    Grantee-Grantor indexes, Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder's Office.

    Deeds, Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder's Office.

    Real Property Records, Los Angeles County Assessor's Office, December 2000.

    California Office of Historic Preservation. "Directory of Properties in the Historic Properties Data File for Los Angeles County."

    3. Internet Sources:

    The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society's site is a valuable source for local history and photographs. This resource includes information on the region in general, San Francisquito Canyon, the St. Francis Dam disaster, and the film industry, as well as Harry Carey's ranch and film career. ( and

    Various other Internet sites provided information on the Western as a film genre, the history of the development of movie making, and the silent film era. These sites were also valuable sources of biographical information for directors and actors alike.

    4. Periodicals:

    The Signal. Variously titled, Newhall-Saugus Signal, covers the Santa Clarita Valley region, available on microfilm at the local branch of the county library from 1919.

    Los Angeles Times.

E. Likely Sources not yet Investigated:

    Although the Harry Carey Ranch property was occupied and owned by the Careys from the 1920s though 1945, and the Clougherty family from the mid 1950s through 1998, the chain of ownership is not completely documented for the period of about ten years between 1945 and the mid 1950s. Research conducted for this project revealed that John and Irene Blanchard, as well as Laura Wagnon and Catherine McCaleb, owned the ranch for a short time in the late 1940s. The real property records of Los Angeles County should contain further information about who else may have owned the property during this period, as well as who sold the property to the Cloughertys.

F. Supplemental Material:

    1. Figures 1 and 2 show the general location of the property and its surroundings. The Vicinity Map was produced using a USGS topographic quadrangle as the base, and the Site Map is re-produced from the DPR523 form dated July 6, 1993, on file with California Office of Historic Places.

    2. Figures 3, 4, and 5 are Sketch Plans of three buildings: Main House (Building 5), Caretaker's House (Building 9A), and Wood Stables (Building 8), showing the buildings' floor plans as of November 3, 2000. These sketch plans also appear with the individual building forms.

    3. Other images related to the historical context and construction history of the property are also included:

        a. Figure 6 is a promotional photograph of Harry and Olive Carey for the film Knight of Range, circa 1915, that appears in Harry Carey, Jr.'s book, Company of Heroes (1994).

        b. Figure 7 is an undated view of Harry Carey Ranch, probably dating to the 1920s, from Company of Heroes, by Harry Carey, Jr. (1994).

        c. Figure 8 is a postcard showing a "View of Ranch: Harry Carey Trading Post, Saugus, California," n.d. [ca. 1920s], Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society,


This project was sponsored by Montalvo Properties & Evans-Collins Community Builders. Meta Bunse, Steve Mikesell, and Toni Webb, of JRP Historical Consulting Services, conducted the field inspection and recordation in November 2000. Meta Bunse and Toni Webb conducted research in various on-line resources, as well as the Sacramento Office of Historic Preservation, Santa Clarita Branch of the Los Angeles County Library, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, William S. Hart Regional Park, Los Angeles County Assessor's Office, Los Angeles County Clerk/Recorder's Office, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Toni Webb and Meta Bunse wrote the text for the individual building forms, while Meta Bunse wrote the narrative report with contributions from Toni Webb and Steve Mikesell (specifically the history of the Western as a film genre). Toni Webb produced the sketch floor plans and Bill Dewey produced the photography.

The Los Angeles District Army Corps of Engineers, in consideration of a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit for the Tesoro Del Valle Project in Los Angeles County, California, found that the Tesoro del Valle Project, would have an effect on the Harry Carey Ranch Historic District, a property eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. With this finding of effect, the Corps, pursuant to 36 CFR Part 800, regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f), has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the California State Historic Preservation Officer (in concurrence with Montalvo Properties, LLC) regarding the historic Harry Carey Ranch property.


1. California Office of Historic Preservation, "Directory of Properties in the Historic Properties Data File for Los Angeles County," (as of October 20, 1998), 16-17; Leslie Heumann and Helen Wells, "Historic Resources Inventory: Harry Carey Ranch Historic District," DPR523 forms on file with California Office of Historic Places (July 6, 1993)

2. Leon Worden, Santa Clarita Valley: A Concise History (Newhall, CA: Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, 1997), 6-11; Philip Scorza and Frank Wright, eds., Santa Clarita Valley: A Pictorial History (S.1.: Sierra Vista Publishing, 2000), passim.

3. "Joint Tenancy Deed," Harry and Olive Carey to John F. Blanchard II and Irene T. Blanchard, recorded April 18. 1945, Deeds 21887:152-154; "Grant Deed," John and Irene Blanchard to Laura Madeline Wagnon and Catherine McCaleb, recorded June 2, 1948, Deeds 7336:165; Grantee-Grantor indexes, Los Angeles County Clerk and Recorder Office; Property records, Los Angeles County Assessor's Office.

4. Tim Dirks, "Film History By Decade," (1996-2000).

5. David Kiehn, "A Short History of Essanay Film Company in Niles," (2000). The Essanay Studio is famous, not only for its Broncho Billy Westerns, but also for the early films of Charlie Chaplin, who was signed to the studio in 1914 and 1915. Several of his best-known films, including "The Tramp," were filmed at Niles.

6. Dirks, "Film History By Decade."

7. Michael Kaminsky, "Biography for D.W. Griffith," (as of November 13, 2000); Dirks, "Film History By Decade."

8. John Ford had only a few films to his credit prior to 1917, few of them Westerns. Between 1917 and 1921, however, Ford made only a few films that did not star Harry Carey, Sr. Similarly, most of Carey's films were directed by John Ford during this period. To a large extent, John Ford's illustrious career as a director of Western films dates to this four-year involvement with Harry Carey.

9. The Ridge Route passed through the valley and was functionally the predecessor of the Interstate 5 link between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, although it followed a much different alignment. Scorza and Wright, eds., Santa Clarita Valley: A Pictorial History, 22; Bob Pool, "Ridge Route's Scholar," Los Angeles Times (October 13, 1997).

10. Worden, Santa Clarita Valley: A Concise History (1997); Scorza and Wright, eds., Santa Clarita Valley: A Pictorial History; Henryk Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers" (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2000), 278-281.

11. "Friends Bid Farewell to Harry Carey at Simple Service under the Skies," The Signal (September 25, 1947), 1: Maurice VanAuken, "Straight Shooting," (as of January 4, 2001); Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 278-281.

12. Leon Worden, "Movie Trivia from Beale's Cut," The Signal (April 9, 1997).

13. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Patent Records, CALA 0031850, Patent issued July 16, 1925 to Henry Dewitt Carey, and CALA 0032149, Patent issued April 22, 1926 to Henry Dewitt Carey; Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001; Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, "William S. Hart Museum," (Santa Clarita Valley Printing House Craftsmen: 1996); Leonard Maltin, "Hoot Gibson," Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia (Penguin Putnam: 1994), as quoted on Hart left his home to Los Angeles County and it has been preserved as the centerpiece of a historical park, called Hart Regional Park.

14. Leon Worden, "Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures," (1996-2000); Jerry Reynolds, "Tales of the Valley," The Signal (August 31, 1991); Jerry Reynolds, "History of the Santa Clarita Valley," The Signal (April 28, 1985), 2; Viki Rudolph, Newhall Gazette (Spring 1997); "The Time Ranger," The Signal (August 24, 1997); Gary Wayne, "Melody Ranch," (2000).

15. Leon Worden, "Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures," (1996-2000); Harry Carey, Jr., Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company (New Jersey Scarecrow Press, 1994), 44-53.

16. Carey, Company of Heroes, 44-53; Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 278-281; "Friends Bid Farewell to Harry Carey ...," The Signal (September 25, 1947), 1; John Boston, "Stars Turned out for Carey Funeral in 1947," The Signal (September 28, 1997).

17. Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001; Carey, Company of Heroes, 44-53; Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 278-281; "Friends Bid Farewell to Harry Carey ...," The Signal (September 25, 1947), 1; John Boston, "Stars Turned out for Carey Funeral in 1947," The Signal (September 28, 1997); Bureau of Land Management, Land Patent Records, CALA 0031850, Patent issued July 16, 1925 to Henry Dewitt Carey, and CALA 0032149, Patent issued April 22, 1926 to Henry Dewitt Carey.

18. This film is rumored to have been shot on the land that would become the Carey ranch, but no documentation of this has been found to date. Leonard Maltin, "John Ford," Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia (Penguin Putnam: 1994), as quoted on Carey, Company of Heroes, 44-53; Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 278-281; "Friends Bid Farewell to Harry Carey ..," The Signal (September 25, 1947), 1.

19. Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 278-281; Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001; "Friends Bid Farewell to Harry Carey ...," The Signal (September 25, 1947), 1; Boston, "Stars Turned out for Carey Funeral in 1947," The Signal (September 28, 1997); "The Carey Family,", as of April 18, 2000; Jim Beaver, i'Biography for Harry Carey,", as of November 13, 2000; "Harry Carey Jr. Recalls His Dad," The Los Angeles Times (November 24, 1979): 10-11; Larry Imber, "Nat Levine and Mascot Pictures," (2000); Leslie Heumann and Helen Wells, "Historic Resources Inventory: Harry Carey Ranch Historic District," DPR523 forms on file with California Office of Historic Places (July 6, 1993).

20. Carey, Company of Heroes, 44-53, 183-185, 209; Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 472-473; "The Carey Family,", as of April 18, 2000.

21. Harry Carey, Jr., interview January 26 2001; "Harry Carey Trading Post," brochure, n.d., History Section, Los Angeles Public Library; "The Time Ranger," The Signal (October 22, 1995 and April 26, 1996).

22. "Santa Clarita Valley," The Signal (April 23, 1995); "The Time Ranger," The Signal (April 28, 1996); "The Time Ranger" The Signal (October 23, 1994); Michele E. Buttelman, "St. Francis Dam Disaster of March 12, 1928, Remembered," The Signal (March 12, 2000).

23. Hoffman, "'A' Western Filmmakers," 280.

24. Daniel P. Puzo, "Pig Star: A Pork Story," Los Angeles Times (February 8, 1996), H8.

25. Puzo, "Pig Star: A Pork Story," H8.

26. Ed Stephan, "Biography for William S. Hart,", as of November 13, 2000; "The Time Ranger" The Signal (March 30, 1997): Al and (October 19, 1997): Al; Jerry Reynolds, "House Stands as Symbol to Movie Great," The Signal (February 6, 1993).

27. Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001. Mr. Harter was probably Edwin Harter, who is listed in a report on insurance claims filed and settled atter the flood (Citizens' Restoration Committee, "Report on Death and Disability Claims, St. Francis Dam Disaster in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, July 15, 1929," reproduced by, as of January 30, 2001).

28. In two separate interviews Harry Carey, Jr. recalled that Mexican agricultural workers, who were unemployed during the winter, were hired to build the adobe main house in 1932 (Heumann and Wells, "...Harry Carey Ranch Historic District," DPR523 forms, July 6, 1993; Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001).

29. Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001; "View of Ranch: Harry Carey Trading Post, Saugus, California," [ca. 1920s], SCV Historical Society, (as of January 3, 2001); "Harry Carey Home Destroyed," Newhall Signal (September 8, 1932): 1; "Harry Carey Trading Post," brochure, [ca. 1920s], LA Public Library.

30. Harry Carey, Jr., interview, January 26, 2001; BLM, GLO Patent Records, CALA 0031850, issued July 16, 1925 to Henry Dewitt Carey, and CALA 0032149, issued April 22, 1926 to same; "Harry Carey Trading Post," brochure, [ca. 1920s], LA Public Library.

31. Careys to Blanchards, April 18, 1945, Deeds 21887:15-154; Blanchards to L. Wagnon and C. McCaleb, June 2, 1948, Deeds 27336:165; Grantee-Grantor indexes, Los Angeles County Clerk and Recorder Office.

Download full pdf here.

• Harry Carey Ranch Survey 2001


Survey Photos (86)


Living Room Furniture

• Harry Carey Jr. Photo Collection
• Harry Carey Jr. in the Movies


Interview: Dobe & Cappy Carey 2005


Video: Dobe Returns 2009


Ranch 1920s


Trading Post 1920s


Interior 1920s


Navajo Rug Room


Trading Post 1910s-20s


Arrow Sign 1920s


Tourists 1920s


Performers 1920s


Baking Bread 1920s


Hosting Film Critics 1921


1st Ranch House


Carey & Rübel Kids ~1940


Ranch Buildings


Tesoro: Homes Planned 1992


Dobe (x2) 2005


Monument Dedication 5-2-2015


Tesoro Phase A-B-C EIR 2/2018


Tesoro (San Francisquito) Bedrock Mortar

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