Taylor Ranch. Ventura, CA.

Originally known as Rancho Canada de San Miguelito, it was founded by Don Ramon Rodriguez, a native of Sonora, Mexico, who was given the original 8,000-acre grant by the Mexican government in 1840.Rodriguez, a community leader, was killed in 1848 while heading a posse looking for bandits who had been terrorizing ranches in the region.

As the story goes, Rodriguez caught one of them from behind. Rather than shoot the bandit in the back, Rodriguez clubbed him with a rifle. The blow only succeeded in breaking the weapon in half, leaving the bandit a clear shot at Rodriguez, who died instantly. His widow, Juana Tico, sold the property later for about a dollar an acre.

The new owner was Green B. Taylor, the ranch’s namesake, who had brought his family by covered wagon from Tennessee. Taylor ran sheep on the land until his death near the turn of the century.

On the death of Taylor’s widow, Nancy, the property at her request was placed in a trust with the order that any income from the land should be used to teach Greek drama, the arts and cultural courses.

Her daughter, Alice Grubb, however, objected to the strict conditions and successfully challenged the will in court. It proved to be a profitable victory for Grubb. In 1931, oil was discovered on the ranch and the property became one of the most prolific oil fields in the region. More of the oil-rich property was annexed to the ranch, eventually expanding it to 30,000 acres. 

When Grubb died in 1936, she willed the ranch to her daughter, Emma Wood, who donated the slice of oceanfront property south of the ranch known as Emma Wood Beach. Wood died in 1944 and left the land to her husband, Adrian Wood.

In more recent times the ranch was considered as the new home for Cal State Channel Islands which, as you can imagine, was a controversial topic around here and was eventually shot down. As were Adrian Wood’s plans to sell off portions of the ranch for a large industrial park, which were also not approved by the county. 

Fortunately today, the ranch remains much as it has for hundreds of years as a beacon of old California and a glimpse into a world few remember.