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Rancho Los Encinos (also Rancho El Encino and Rancho Encino) was a Spanishmarker grazing concession, cattle and sheep ranch, stagecoach stop, wheat farm, and real estate subdivision in the San Fernando Valleymarker of Californiamarker near Los Angelesmarker. The heart of the property, where the 19th century adobe and limestone farmhouses still stand near a perennial warm spring just off Ventura Boulevard (the former El Camino Real), is now the Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encinomarker.



The name of the rancho derives from the original designation of the Valley by the Portola expedition of 1769: El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de los Encinos, encino being the Spanish name for the evergreen Coast Live Oaks which still grow on the property.

The adobe house built by Vicente de la Osa, completed in 1850
Francisco Reyes, alcalde of Los Angeles from 1793-1795, established the original Rancho Encino in the northern San Fernando Valley. In or around 1797 Reyes ceded this land to the Roman Catholic Church to be the site of Mission San Fernandomarker, and relocated his Rancho Encino to one square league (4,460 acres) of land in the southern valley adjacent to El Camino Real.

Reyes was accused of mistreating the Indians who worked his rancho, and in 1845 Governor Pio Pico re-granted the property to three of the workers, recorded as Ramon, Francisco, and Roque, who raised cattle and corn.

In 1849, Don Vicente de la Osa or de la Ossa, the original owner of the nearby Rancho Providenciamarker, acquired the Indian's interests in the property. He built a 9-room adobe farmhouse that still stands near the spring in 1849-1850. He took formal title to the Rancho in under California law in 1851.

Boom and bust

The California Gold Rush of 1849 created a near-insatiable demand for beef, which was raised on the ranchos of southern California, including Rancho Los Encinos, and driven on the hoof to northern markets serving the gold fields. But the boom market in Southern California began to decline as early as 1855 as it became profitable to drive cattle and sheep to California from the midwest and Texasmarker, and the drought of 1856 increased the pressure on the ranchos.

The De La Osa rancho was a popular stopping point for travelers, who could expect hospitality at the ranch house. The Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route between St. Louis, Missourimarker and San Francisco, Californiamarker via Fort Yumamarker and Los Angelesmarker made its first run in the fall of 1858. A new stagecoach route opened in 1861, diverging from the old road (the former El Camino Real) at Rancho Los Encinos and heading for Santa Barbaramarker via the Old Santa Susana Stage Road over the Santa Susana Passmarker.

The Garnier building in 1900.
With the cattle market in collapse and besieged by mounting debts, in 1859 De la Osa converted his house into a roadside inn and began to charge patrons for his legendary Californio hospitality. Don Vicente died in 1861, and his widow Rita sold the property to James Thompson in 1867, who raised sheep on the rancho for two years. Thompson in turn sold the property to two Basque brothers, Eugene and Phillipe Garnier, in 1869. Eugene Garnier built a two-story limestone farmhouse similar to the former family home in Francemarker, and a brick-lined pool shaped like a Spanish guitar. The Garniers also raised sheep on the property, and were known for the fine quality of their fleece, but they in turn became overextended and lost the property to foreclosure in 1878.

The property changed hands three times in the next twenty years, eventually being acquired entire by Domingo Amestoy in 1889. The Amestoy family lived on the property until 1945, selling off of land in 1916 that would become the community of Encino, and further subdividing the ranchlands thereafter.

The last remaining parcel including the historic buildings and the spring was acquired by the State of California in 1949.

The park

Historical monument marker, 1950
Earthquake-damaged storage building.
All of the historic buildings in the park were heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The De la Osa adobe and the Garnier building have been repaired, with the Garnier building now serving as a visitor center with historic photographs and exhibits of the rancho's past. The 1902 double-roofed food-storage buildings built for the Amestoys still show signs of the earthquake and are used for Park storage.

The park is located at 16756 Moorpark St., Encino, California, 91436-1068, and is open to the public 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. There is a second entrance on Ventura Boulevard.

Map gallery

Image:RanchoEncinoPlatMap1873.jpg|Plat map of Rancho el Encino, registered for Eugene Garnier 1873 and based on an 1868 survey.Image:1880map San Fernando Valley SE.jpg|1880 manuscript map of the southeastern San Fernando Valley, with the Rancho at the lower left.

See also


  1. Beck, Warren A. and Ynez D. Haase, Historical Atlas of California, p. 37
  2. Bearchell, Charles, and Larry D. Fried: The San Fernando Valley Then and Now, p. 93
  3. Bearchell and Fried, p. 28, 68-69, 93-95
  4. Bearchell and Fried, p. 94-96
  5. Kielbasa, Historic Adobes of Los Angeles County, p. 34.
  6. Cleland, Robert Glass: The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California, 1850-1870
  7. Link, Tom: Universal City - North Hollywood, a Centenniel Portrait, p. 25
  8. The stagecoach routes can clearly be seen on period maps; see the Map Gallery.
  9. Kielbasa, p. 35
  10. a picture of the French house can be seen in the Visitor Center

External links


  • Bearchell, Charles, and Larry D. Fried: The San Fernando Valley Then and Now, Windsor Publications, 1988, ISBN 089812859
  • Beck, Warren A. and Ynez D. Haase, Historical Atlas of California, University of Oklahoma Press, 1974 (first edition), ISBN 0806112123
  • Cleland, Robert Glass: The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California, 1850-1880, Huntington Library, 1941; University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-87328-097-6; online at [555866].
  • .
  • Link, Tom: Universal City - North Hollywood, a Centenniel Portrait, Windsor Publications, 1991, ISBN 0897813936
  • Roderick, Kevin: The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb, Los Angeles Times Books, 2001, ISBN 188379255x

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