Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Piru Fruit Rancho.
A Magnificent Property under a Perfect System of Irrigation.

Mammoth Orchards.

Becoming Famous for its Large Shipments of the Finest Oranges, Lemons, Olives, Apricots, Apples, Etc.

Rich in Oil and Minerals.

Result of the Indomitable Energy and Huge Enterprise of David C. Cook of Elgin, Ills.


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The Piru Fruit Rancho contains 14,000 acres. It formerly belonged to the Del Valle brothers and was patented to the Temescal Land Grant.

David C. Cook of Elgin, Ill., and well known as the proprietor of one of the greatest publishing houses in the United States, bought the ranch in 1887 from the Del Valle brothers and for the last 12 years has spent large sums of money in bringing it to its present high state of cultivation.

A large fortune has been spent in pipe lines, flumes and canals, thus establishing a perfect system of irrigation.

One thousand two hundred acres have been planted to trees. Every acre of this mammoth orchard receives the best of care, and the Piru Fruit Rancho has become celebrated in Southern California and [illegible].

By the prodigious enterprise of David C. Cook, Piru City, formerly known as a honey and stock region, is now noted for its excellent oranges, lemons, olives, apricots, apples, almonds, etc. The great Piru Fruit Rancho is planted to trees as follows:

Apricots 260
Olives 175
Oranges (principally navels)     150
Peaches 125
Prunes 100
Lemons 75
Apples 25
Pears 10
Nectarines 10
Quinces 3
Almonds 5

Fifty acres more will be set to almonds next spring. There are also a few acres in vines for table grapes. In the apricot orchards 75 acres are not yet in bearing. Forty acres more of that fruit were set last spring. When the large acreage in oranges was first planted the best varieties were not furnished by the nurseries. Since then the trees have been budded to navels. Last spring 2,800 orange trees were planted; also 250 lemon trees. A few Oonshui oranges of Japan, imported by B.B. Harney of Riverside, have been tried as an experiment. It is a Mandarin orange of medium size, and a good keeper. Eight hundred acres, or two-thirds of this mammoth orchard, have come into bearing. The oldest trees are 10 years of age.

The rancho has extensive fruit drying yards and cutting sheds; the largest in this part of the county. It can accommodate 500 operators, and handle readily 50 tons of green fruit daily. There are numerous smudgers, or sulphur houses. Sulphur is used to give color and destroy insect life.

The ranch also contains 300 acres alfalfa land, 67 head of work horses, besides numerous range horses and colts to replenish stock.

The orchards extend from Piru City westward, a distance of one and a half miles, and up the Piru valley, a distance of six miles. The ranch has five subdivisions. The Piru or home division extends around the town and westward one and one-half miles. The other four divisions are named: Esmeralda, Temescal, Calara, and Esperanza; and follow each other (in the order named) up the Piru canyon. A foreman has been assigned to each subdivision, and suitable residences, barns, etc., erected, for the use of the ranch hands. The foreman and each lot of men in all the subdivisions are under the immediate direction and inspection of W.H. Fleet, the superintendent.

The Piru or Home Division.

Soon after the traveller leaves the beautiful Camulos ranch, and the train crosses the bridge over the Piru river, on entering Piru City, the first impressions of the town, are very favorable.

At the river crossing there is a heavy growth of cottonwood, sycamore and willow, but as the mountain walls, close by on either side, almost meet, no idea of the picturesque Piru valley beyond can be obtained. A glimpse is had of the elegant Cook mansion on high bench land, at the foot of the mountain, with a wonderful profusion of flowers, shrubbery and ornamental trees, and stately gums, in the back ground; while below on lower land, appear a fine olive orchard, large pepper trees, cottonwoods and weeping willows.

The train quickly passes through a double row of pepper trees hiding the town from view. At the depot the traveller gets a glimpse of the town. The hotel, church, stores and houses are all near by. The town seems buried under the shade of pepper, willow and cottonwood trees, and borders of olives. The numerous derricks on the mountain side, to the south, tell of the oil industry.

As the train leaves Piru City the traveller quickly realizes he is in a horticultural section. On the way to Buckhorn, two miles distant, a succession of beautiful orange, lemon, apricot, almond and olive orchards are passed, lined with windbreaks of eucalyptus and olive trees. Patches of alfalfa are grown along the railroad. Here are to be found happy homes and flower gardens.

Oranges and lemons require irrigation. In ordinary years apricots and almonds produce well without irrigation. Among the orchardists of this section, oranges, lemons and apricots are the three favorites.


Piru City is an important point for the shipment of honey. In good seasons the output reaches 16 carloads. Bee feed is abundant in all the canyons. There are numerous apiaries. Piru and vicinity is an ideal honey country, producing the finest honey in the State.


There are several stock ranches in the eastern part of Ventura county, and in good seasons the shipments of cattle are numerous. The many thousands of acres of mountain land are excellent ranges and furnish abundant feed.


Dried fruit on the Piru Fruit Rancho is all A1. The product cannot be excelled for color, flavor, quality, and cleanliness. The fruit is hand-picked, clean, cut, sun dried and cured, in the best manner.

Apricots are ready to pick soon after the middle of June.

About 50 men are usually employed by the Piru Fruit Rancho. During the fruit season this number is increased to from 400 to 500. R.W. Milliken has been foreman of the Piru subdivision for nearly eight yuears.

The general manager is kept very busy. He is the busiest man of the rancho. Many car loads of supplies have to be purchased. Every year a large fruit crop must be marketed. Buyers must be found for immense quantities of oranges, lemons, olives, apples, peaches, etc. It requires tact and skill to make buyers understand that their bids must be satisfactory. In the office there is much routine work and a large correspondence. Tax bills must be paid, abstract and title to property looked after, and disputes and litigation about water rights attended to. The Piru Fruit Rancho does a large business with the outside world. The duties of the superintendent are entirely different from that of the general manager.

Robert Dunn.

Robert Dunn is a native of Edinburg, Scotland, and for 38 years farmed extensively four miles from Edinburg. Farming a large acreage in the vicinity of a large city like Edinburg indicates, of course, a large business, with great capacity and much valuable experience. When he came to California, 13 years ago last January, Mr. Dunn, for a while, rented a part of the Newhall ranch, or what is now known as the Rehart place. He soon bought a large farm, about four miles from Piru City, on the south side of the Santa Clara river, where he has lived for nearly 12 years. He named his farm the Bourdeaux Fruit Ranch, which is the name of the place on which he lived so many years in Scotland. Recently Mr. Dunn decided to go into mercantile business, and now carries on a general merchandise store at Piru City. He is also proprietor of the meat market and livery and feed stable. Mr. Dunn is a popular merchant, greatly esteemed in the community in which he lives, he receives a liberal share of the public patronage. The number of men employed and the large and increasing volume of business carried on by Mr. Dunn, is a great surprise to most people. He does a large business, not only at Piru, but also receives a liberal patronage from Bardsdale, Fillmore and other districts.

W.H. Moore.

W.H. Moore is an experienced farmer, having worked on a farm since he was ten years old. He is the efficient foreman of the Esperanza subdivision, and has been on the ranch five years. Mr. Moore, formerly of Colorado, came here from Eastern Oregon, where he had valuable experience, irrigating and raising fruit. The view of the valley and mountain scenery from Mr. Moore's home, is picturesque and beautiful beyond descript ion. He takes great pride in the excellent condition of the orchards. There are none finer on the ranch. His work shows he is competent and reliable.

Featured in
Ventura Free Press


Piru City Story


Fruit Rancho Story


Piru Valley Story


Gold Mining Co.


Warring Family & Buckhorn Station


The Oil Industry


Water Supply


Camulos Rancho

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