Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Original Harry Carey Ranch House
San Francisquito Canyon


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This photograph appeared on page 6 of the May 1928 edition of Photoplay magazine (Greta Garbo cover) under the page header "As we go to Press / Last Minute News from East and West." Apparently the St. Francis Dam disaster of March 12 & 13, 1928, occurred just in time to make the May edition. The original caption reads:

Harry Carey ranch at Saugus, Calif., was destroyed by the breaking of the St. Francis Dam. Carey, his wife and child, shown in the picture, were in New York at the time of the catastrophe. Sixty-four Navajo Indians, employed at the trading post, had left for their reservation, but other workers and 800 head of stock were caught in the rushing waters. The ranch represented an investment of $500,000.

Harry Carey (Sr.) is seen at right in the photograph. His wife, Olive, is on the porch. The child in the foreground is presumably Dobe Carey (Harry Carey Jr.), who was born in 1921. The twin water tanks are visible at top.

The ironic thing about the inclusion of this particular photograph in the magazine is that this house wasn't lost in the flood. It sat on higher ground than some of other buidings, including the Trading Post, whose operators died in the disaster.

This house survived another four and a half years. It burned down Sept. 2, 1932, when an employee who was carrying a lighted lantern walked into a shed to fetch some gasoline for a pump engine and the gas tank exploded. The flames spread to the house. Afterward, the Careys built a new home of adobe, which still stands on the property.

Researcher Ann Stansell adds: The Trading Post operators were Clinton Harter and his wife Marian. Mr. Harter was also manager of the Carey Ranch. Solomon Bird, the Careys' cook, also lived at the trading post and was killed in the disaster.


The following brief appears on the same page of the magazine:

Bill Hart's new ranch home at Newhall, Calif., escaped in the big dam disaster, being on the very edge of the flood. His ranch home has been used as a center for relief work.

Construction of Hart's home in Newhall had been completed just the previous year.


The same edition of the magazine ran a story, "Making A Million," ostensibly written by actor Tom Mix, but it's penned in the voice of a hick, which Mix wasn't.


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.


LW2271: 9600 dpi jpeg from magazine purchased 2012 by Leon Worden, donated to SCV Historical Society
HARRY CAREY RANCH

• Harry Carey Ranch Survey 2001

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Survey Photos (86)

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


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Interview: Dobe & Cappy Carey 2005

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Video: Dobe Returns 2009


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Ranch 1920s

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Trading Post 1920s

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Interior 1920s

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Navajo Rug Room

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Trading Post 1910s-20s

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Arrow Sign 1920s

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Tourists 1920s

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Performers 1920s

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Baking Bread 1920s

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Hosting Film Critics 1921

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1st Ranch House

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Carey & Rübel Kids ~1940

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Ranch Buildings
(Multiple)

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Tesoro: Homes Planned 1992

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Dobe (x2) 2005

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Monument Dedication 5-2-2015

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Tesoro Phase A-B-C EIR 2/2018

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