Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Harry Carey Ranch & Trading Post
San Francisquito Canyon


Click image to enlarge

Postcard, probably 1925-28, titled "Harry Carey Trading Post, Saugus, California. Mr. Carey and Navajos." Back reads:

Nowhere in California is there a spot more real interest than the Harry Carey Ranch and Trading Post, situated in the beautiful San Francisquito Canyon. It's a ranch in all respects, consisting of over 1,200 acres. Here Navajo Indians live and work in their native way and large herds of Navajo and Karakul sheep graze on the slopes of the mountains.

Postcard by C.T. American Art Colored of Chicago, No. 105720.

To say the Carey Ranch was "a ranch in all respects" and that the Native Americans employed there "live and work in their native way" is a bit of a stretch. The Indians carried out a Hollywood version of their lifestyle for tourists — after all, the ranch was a tourist attraction and had little to do with life on the Plains.

On a "real" note, it is reported that the Indians had a preminition that something bad would happen at the ranch on March 12, 1928, so they went away that morning. That night, at three minutes before midnight, the great St. Francis Dam broke, wiping out the Carey ranch and trading post. The Careys continued to live there, but the trading post and performances were to remain a memory.

Of note in this hand-colorized postcard are the brown adobe walls, split log roof and blue window treatments. The sign atop the trading post (we might call it a gift shop) reads, in the middle: "Harry Carey Ranch Store & Trading Post." To the left are the words "GEN MDSE" (General Merchandise); to the right is "Navajo Indian Crafts(?)"


Actor Harry Carey (Sr.) acquired a homestead at the mouth of San Francisquito Canyon in 1916 and established a rancho. The ranch included the Carey's wooden ranch home as well as several outbuildings and the Harry Carey Trading Post, which was a tourist attraction that included billed entertainment from Navajo Indians and other performers, along with a store that sold Western and Indian curios. The ranch was occasionally used for filming. The Careys' son, Harry Carey Jr. (Dobe), who would follow in his father's acting footsteps, was born in the Carey ranch home in 1921.

The trading post washed away in the St. Francis Dam disaster of March 1928 and was not rebuilt. The Indians left about a month earlier. According to Dobe, a shaman saw "a big crack and predicted it would break." The ranch house was situated at a higher elevation and survived the flood, only to burn down in 1932. The Careys replaced it by building a Spanish adobe home, which they sold with the rancho in 1945.

Harry Carey was born Henry DeWitt Carey II on January 16, 1878 on 116th Street in the Bronx section of New York City. His father was a special-sessions judge and president of a sewing machine company. Harry attended a military academy but declined an appointment to West Point, instead trying his hand as a playwright.

According to the Internet Movie Database: In 1911, his friend Henry B. Walthall introduced him to director D.W. Griffith, for whom Carey was to make many films. Carey married twice [correx: 3 times; see here], the [third] time to actress Olive Fuller Golden (aka Olive Carey), who introduced him to future director John Ford. Carey influenced Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle to use Ford as a director, and a partnership was born that lasted until a rift in the friendship in 1921.

During this time, Carey grew into one of the most popular Western stars of the early motion picture, occasionally writing and directing films as well. In the 1930s he moved slowly into character roles and was nominated for an Oscar for one of them, the president of the Senate in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). He worked once more with Ford, in "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936), and appeared once with his son, Harry Carey Jr., in Howard Hawks' "Red River" (1948).

He died Sept. 21, 1947, in Brentwood, after a protracted bout with emphysema and cancer. Ford dedicated his remake "3 Godfathers" (1948) "To Harry Carey — Bright Star Of The Early Western Sky."

Carey would appear in at least 233 films, including short features, between 1909 and 1949.

Further reading: Harry Carey Ranch: Historic American Buildings Survey No. CA-2712.

HARRY CAREY RANCH

• Harry Carey Ranch Survey 2001

thumbnail

Survey Photos (86)

SEE ALSO:
• Harry Carey Jr. Photo Collection
• Harry Carey Jr. in the Movies


thumbnail

Interview: Dobe & Cappy Carey 2005

thumbnail

Video: Dobe Returns 2009


thumbnail

Ranch 1920s

thumbnail

Trading Post 1920s

thumbnail

Interior 1920s

thumbnail

Navajo Rug Room

thumbnail

Trading Post 1910s-20s

thumbnail

Arrow Sign 1920s

thumbnail

Tourists 1920s

thumbnail

Performers 1920s

thumbnail

Baking Bread 1920s

thumbnail

Hosting Film Critics 1921

thumbnail

1st Ranch House

thumbnail

Carey & Rübel Kids ~1940

thumbnail

Ranch Buildings
(Multiple)

thumbnail

Tesoro: Homes Planned 1992

thumbnail

Dobe (x2) 2005

thumbnail

Monument Dedication 5-2-2015

thumbnail

Tesoro Phase A-B-C EIR 2/2018

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ]
SCVHistory.com is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply