RV Park to Celebrate Early California History

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September 7, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

RVers typically stay at campgrounds and RV resorts in some of the most scenic locations in the country.

But at Rancho Los Coches RV Park in Lakeside, Calif., camping enthusiasts not only have a chance to enjoy majestic oak trees and rugged hillsides, but they can get in touch with early state history, according to a news release.

The 142 sites park, bordered by a river that still has rock morteros used by Native Americans to grind acorns and other grains, is celebrating its historical heritage Friday and Saturday (Sept. 10-11) with on-site tours and historical presentations by current and former owners and the San Diego Historical Society. U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., R-Cal;if., is scheduled to tour the park Friday afternoon.

“It’ll be a great time to visit the park and learn about the fascinating history of this property, including its original ranch house, which was a stop for the Jackass Mail and the Butterfield Stage,” said Bill Milligan, general manager of Rancho Los Coches RV Park.

The RV park is situated on the site of the smallest Mexican land grant in California, which Mexican Gov. Manuel Torena granted to Dona Apolinaria Florenzana in 1843, seven years before California became a state.

In those days, the property was part of a ranch that provided food supplies for the San Diego Mission. But Florenzana did not hang on to the property and it changed hands several times until it was acquired in 1859 by Perfecta and Wilbur Ames.

The Ames family built an adobe house on the property, which has been featured in several published accounts of early San Diego history. They also erected a rock wall and planted cactus plants around the property to keep their cattle in and to discourage garden thieves. The cactus plants and remnants of the 150-year-old rock wall can still be seen today, although the adobe house is no longer there.

A writer named W.W. Wheatley acquired the property in the early 20th century and built a self-sufficient home, complete with a windmill to generate electrical power and a water storage tank.

But when the property’s current owner, George Ramstead acquired the property in 1973, he refurbished the home and found newspapers inside the walls dating back to 1925, which discussed a controversy surrounding a woman who was about to be hanged in Arizona. “We couldn’t find other papers indicating what happened to her,” he said.

Ramstead will join Billy Ortez from the San Diego Historical Society, descendents of the Ames family and Bill Milligan, general manager of the RV park, in leading tours and presentations of the historic RV park property. A barbecue is also being planned for park guests on Saturday.

For more information about Rancho Los Coches RV Park, contact Bill Milligan at (619) 443-2025 and visit

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