You have to be carrying some years on you to remember Leo Carrillo. He was a colorful actor during Hollywood's brightest days of memorable stars. Most often in supporting roles the late actor made the transition to television in the 1950s in one of the first color series entitled "The Cisco Kid".
But his biggest legacy is as an environmentalist. All those young people who enjoy surfing and beach activities at Malibu's Leo Carrillo State Beach probably never heard of the man. But the Beach was named in his honor for his many devoted years working to save California's early heritage and wondrous landscape.
He has left still another part of his legacy--the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park located in Carlsbad which is now owned and maintained by the City of Carlsbad.
Leo Carrillo's family dated back to the earliest history of California. His great grandfather, Carlos Antonio Carrillo in 1837 became the first provisional Governor of California.
Dedicated to restoring the early history of the State, Leo purchased Rancho de los Kistes, 1700 acres in all, in 1937. Located east of the then small town of Carlsbad, he later added another 837 acres and so had a working ranch.
Leo's idea was always to make the ranch traditional with the rancheros of early California. It also became his family's hideaway and a gathering place for Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jane Withers and Will Rogers.
In 1978 the core 27 acres of the 'Ranch of Spanish Daggers' was deeded to the City of Carlsbad as a park for enjoyment of people everywhere. Today the Historic Park includes all the old adobe buildings including Leo's dream Hacienda which was completed in 1939.
The property also includes stables, and a barn which is now planned to become a movie theater. There is also the pool, cabanas and stone barbecue. By 1939 Leo had a working ranch of his own with 600 head of cattle and working cowboys (vaqueros).
Today the Historic Park is surrounded by commercial development and housing tracts as Carlsbad has expanded. But inside the Park all remains as it was. Leo Carrillo Ranch is located east of Interstate 5 and south of Palomar Airport Road. It is well marked with signs.
The Park is open with free admission from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays. For more information call 760 434-2826 or on the web at www.ci.carlsbad,ca.us/cserv/carrillo. Guided tours which take one through the buildings are conducted on weekends only.--11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. on Sundays.
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