Warner Spring Ranch History - John Warner
By 1849, John Warner operated part of the Ranch to serve travelers on the Gila River Emigrant Trail (part of the Southern Trail) and opened the only trading post between New Mexico and Los Angeles. John Warner was later elected to the California State Senate, where he diligently fought for Native American rights and protection. He became a newspaper publisher and served as the first president of the Southern California Historical Society.
The Butterfield Stage at Warner Springs Ranch
The Butterfield Overland Mail Company established a station at the Ranch in 1858 and rebuilt the demolished buildings. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, stagecoach service was discontinued and the army established Camp Wright, a cavalry outpost at the ranch to protect the route from Southern California to Fort Yuma, and to intercept secessionist sympathizers attempting to the join the Confederate armies in the south.
]Former California Governor John Downey purchased the ranch in 1880 to graze his cattle and sheep herds. In 1892, after years of disputes with the Cupeños living at the ranch, Downey sued for an order to evict the Native Americans from the ranch. After a decade-long legal battle, which continued after Downey’s death in 1894, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Cupeños. The eviction order came in 1901, and their exodus two years later became known as the “Cupeño Trail of Tears.” Bureau of Indian Affairs agent Jim Jenkins arrived with 44 armed teamsters to carry out the order. Their belongings were piled into horse-drawn carts and the tribe was relocated to the Pala reservation approximately 40 miles away.
William Henshaw purchased the Ranch in 1911 and Henshaw Dam was completed on Christmas Day 1922. The flood gates were closed and it started filling on December 26. In 1978, the level of the lake was lowered to 40 percent due to the Elsinore Fault Line running beneath it and because of earthquake concerns. At one point in its history the lake's expanse reached the junction of 76 and 79 and surrounded "Monkey Island." Learn about Julio Ortega and Warner Springs Ranch
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