For centuries, the Chumash Indians inhabited this land. Utilizing the natural resources that exist here, they hunted game and collected food from the many plants that grow in the area. Creeks supplied water, and oak trees which are abundant, were valued for their acorns. Many bed-rock mortars can be found around our cabins such as the one pictured here, which were used to crush acorns in the process of turning them into usable food.
In 1897 a man named Syra Lewis filed homestead papers for this property and moved onto the ranch. Shortly after he built a lime-kiln and began mining limestone for use in making cement, a product that was costly to ship out west in those days, and apparently not too common locally. Amazingly, the kiln he built still stands on the ranch today.
Cabins were built to house the miners who hauled carts pulled by mules further up the mountain to the quarry where the limestone deposits were. These are the core elements of the cabins that still exist here today, although they have been modified and added onto over the years. (they are considerably more cozy, no doubt, than the originals that the miners had to exist in!)
A five minute walk out the door of our guest cabin leads to the
cave paintings of the Cumash Painted Cave State Historic Park.
Pictured here, these are some of the best preserved paintings of the Chumash Indians known.
In 1919 Mr. Lewis sold the property to a man named Etienne Lejeune. Mr Lejeune owned and operated the "Exotic Nursery" at 1230 Cacique St. in Santa Barbara for 40 years, a nursery which supplied many of the fine palms growing along the streets of Santa Barbara today. He is also credited with introducing the Kentia and Coco palms to this area. There are some palm trees growing on the ranch today, and it is likely that they were brought here by Mr. Lejeune.
In 1952, Mr Lejeune sold the property to Emery J. Pippin. Mr. Pippin owned the Pippin Grocery located on Canon Perdido in Santa Barbara for many years. He also served on the Santa Barbara city council from 1936 to 1949. It is my understanding that he used and loved the property as a retreat from the city. He had a large number of goats on the ranch, and indeed, the cabin that my wife and I now call home was once known as the "goat shed".
When we bought the ranch, it was in quite a state of disrepair.... used as rental property, the place had become neglected and run down, but still clung to it's obvious natural beauty. We have slowly but persistently worked to enhance that natural beauty, and consider ourselves lucky to have such a fine canvas to work with.
A story has been told to me. A friend who once lived on the ranch, was working for a little old lady in Santa Barbara. While chatting, he told her of the mountain cabin he lived in. When she told him that she too had lived in the mountains here as a little girl, he began to describe where exactly he lived. He soon detected a tear in her eye, as she realized he was describing the very spot she spent some of her childhood around 1916! She told him that her father worked at Sterns Wharf during the week, then walked home catching steel-head trout in the creek on the way!
The steelhead are gone today.....but most everything else is probably just about the same as it was back then. We believe that nature is a lot of what we have to offer, so if you are a nature lover, you probably will not be dissapointed with a visit to Headwaters Ranch !