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Los Encinos State Historic Park
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Los Encinos State Historic Park

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2003 - 2017.

Los Encinos State Historic Park is the core of Los Encinos Rancho and is the site where the first Spaniards to enter the San Fernando Valley spent their first night beside a spring that still fills the small pond on the site.

Los Encinos Rancho was established in the 1700s as a result of a trade of 4460 acres of land between the priests at the San Fernando Mission and Francisco Reyes in exchange for his land closer to the Mission. Reyes may have mistreated his Native American workers and Pio Pico, the Governor of California, gaved the Rancho to three of the workers named Ramon, Francisco and Roque. Don Vincent de la Ossa acquired the rancho in 1851 and built the nine-room adobe. The house was built in 1872 by, Eugene Garnier who also walled in the spring and the pond. In all, the ranch changed hands seven time before it was subdivided in 1915.

There were four owners who made significant impacts to the ranch.

Vicente de la Ossa and his family, Spanish-Mexican Californios, 1849, They raised longhorn cattle and planted orchards and a vineyard.

Eugene and Phillipe Garnier, French Basques, 1869. They raised sheep and exported the merino wool to Europe. The Garniers operated the ranch as a sheep ranch.

Gaston Oxarart, Basque, 1886. He continued running as many as 32,000 head of sheep.

John and Peter Amestoy, also French Basques, 1889. They converted the ranch to farming white wheat and barley. Barley was more profitable and easier to grow.

The five acre site is managed by California State Department of Parks and Recreation. Located aside Ventura Boulevard, formerly El Camino Real, the address and entrance is at 16756 Moorpark Street in Encino. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM.

The two main buildings suffered major damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake but they have now been restored.

The first time I visited was on a lightly raining day in May 2003. I returned about a year later, a few hours later, it began raining.

De La Ossa Adobe and Garnier Building
de la Ossa Adobe left, Garnier Building center. Photo Date: 5-3-03.

De La Ossa Adobe
de la Ossa Adobe. Photo Date: 5-3-03.
The de la Ossa family completed this 8-room adobe ranch house in 1850. The two foot thick walls kept the interiors cool during the summers. It was the main house for all the subsequent owners.
De La Ossa Adobe
de la Ossa Adobe, north side. Photo Date: 4-1-04.
De La Ossa Adobe
de la Ossa Adobe, south side. Photo Date: 4-1-04.

Garnier Building
Garnier Building. Photo date: 4-1-04.
Garnier Building
Garnier Building. Photo date: 4-1-04.
The Garnier Building was built in 1873. This limestone building is a copy of the Garner family farmhouse in their native France. The building contained the ranch kitchen and dining room downstairs and living space for ranch hands. Currently the lower floor contains a Visitor Center and small museum.

Blacksmith Shop
Blacksmith Shop. Photo date: 4-1-04.
Interior of Blacksmith Shop. Photo Date: 5-3-03.

Blacksmith Shop at the northwest corner.
Blacksmith Shop
Photo Date: 4-1-04.
Blacksmith Shop
Photo Date: 4-1-04.
The Garniers built the blacksmith Shop of limestone in the 1870s. It was the Amestoys who converted it to a blacksmith shop and later it was used as a bake shop making bread for the ranch. It now shelters various pieces of farm equipment.
Store House
Store House. Photo Date: 5-3-03.
Store House
Store House. Photo Date: 4-1-04.
Store House
Store House interior. Photo Date: 4-1-04.
The food store houses were built by the Amestoys. The houses were used to store, dry, and preserve food. The double roof allowed air circulation and helps reduce heat transmitting through the roof. the doors and windows also allowed air circulation.
Spring House
Photo date: 4-1-04.
Spring House
Photo date: 4-1-04.
The spring house was built in 1870 to control the outflow from the natural artesian warm spring found on the site by the first Spaniards to enter the San Fernando Valley. The native people were the first of a long line of people to use this spring that still flows today. The ranch was located here because of the spring. the water is heavy in minerals and has a temperature of 80 degrees.

The park also contains a number of significant trees as described in a brochure available at the Visitor Center. From these images, you can imagine how the San Fernando Valley looked 200 years ago when the Valley was covered with a continuous sea of oak trees.
Photo date: 4-1-04.
Photo date: 4-1-04.
The reservoir is one of the oldest constructions on the site. The Garniers improved it by lining the walls with limestone quarried from the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. The reservoir is five feet deep and fed by the artesian spring about 50 feet to the southwest.
Geese in the reservoir.
Cactus with adobe beyond. Photo date: 4-1-04.

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This page last updated: Saturday, 06-Jul-2013 18:59:46 EDT

Note:This is not the official site for any of the places shown in Places Earth. Places Earth is not responsible for accuracy of the information. Hours of operations, prices, exhibits, and sometimes locations are subject to change without notice.

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