Thirty nine years after the Spanish padres established Mission Santa Iñes, Raimundo Carrillo received the 13,500 acre Rancho Nojoqui as payment for his service to the Mexican government. Establishing a legacy for most of the owners who followed him, Carrillo raised cattle most successfully. When owned by Ulpiano Yndart, a terrible drought in the 1860s wiped out the cattle wealth of the Valley, causing financial loss to the Mexican landowners and making their holdings available for the first time to the incoming Americans, including the Pierce family. The Pierces engine ered a novel irrigation system which brought Santa Ynez River water to a great portion of their newly-named Rancho Alisal.
Although cattle continued to reign during the earl y 1900s, horses also had their original heyday here in the Valley. Charles Perkins purchased The Alisal and devoted his attention to the raising of thoroughbred horses as well as fine cattle. Perkin's Alisal-raised Kentucky Derby winner Flying Ebony was the toast of the racing set in 1925. Other well known horses, including the trotter Lou Dillon, also called The Alisal home.
Then, a century after Carrillo received his land grant, The Alisal quickly changed directions. Charles "Pete" Jackson, Jr. purchased The Alisal as a working cattle ranch but, on the advice of a manager, Lynn Gillham, converted the cattlemen's quarters into accommodations for dude ranch guests. On July 16, 1946, The Alisal Guest Ranch was opened for summer seasons with a maximum capacity of 30 guests. It was an immediate success with people who came from all over the nation and spent their vacations, year after year, at The Alisal. Some of these guests quickly provided The Ranch with nationwide exposure. Clark Gable married Lady Silvia in the original library. A prominent Hollywood magazine ran a front page story on Doris Day during one of her frequent visits. Ozzie and Harriet and "the boys" were regular guests. Today, The Alisal maintains a very low profile, providing a secluded get-away from the harried new cyberworld of 50 years later . Cattle continue to roam the 10,000 acres of The Ranch and Western hospitality still prevails.
Do you remember in 1946 ...