Local Artifacts Make It To Washington, D.C.

by | May 23, 2017 | Spotlight

Three sets of artifacts from the Rancho Camulos Museum collection were recently shipped to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for inclusion in the “Many Voices, One Nation” exhibit at the National Museum of American History.
The new permanent exhibit, which opens June 28, “presents the 500-year journey of how many distinct peoples and cultures met, mingled and created the culture of the United States.”  The artifacts from Rancho Camulos are expected to be on display three years or more.
The artifacts include: the late 18th Century red sacred heart from the 1860s Camulos chapel; the original wooden cross from the Del Valle family’s chapel garden at Camulos; and a mortar and pestle attributed to the Tataviam people who lived in the Piru area and maintained a village on the (later) Rancho Camulos property until 1803, when they were removed to the San Fernando Mission.
The sacred heart was previously loaned for an exhibit at Loyola Marymount University, where Josefa del Valle Forster had donated other family heirlooms just before her death in 1943.
Late 19th Century photographs show this elaborately jeweled Sacred Heart once resided on the altar in the Camulos chapel, easy to see for those participating in the liturgy, according to the LMU exhibit.  As an object of devotion, it referred to the sacred heart of Christ, representing His divine love for humanity.  Devotion of the Sacred Heart dates back to biblical times as a way to commemorate Christ’s acts of asceticism, love and salvation for mankind.  The possession of this Sacred Heart was another demonstration of Ysabel del Valle’s pious character.
The second item, the original wooden cross, had been in protective storage at Rancho Camulos Museum.  Visitors can see a replica of the cross in the garden area next to the chapel.  It is painted white, as the original seems to have been at one time.
Adding some mystery to history, it is not known whether the mortar and pestle, the third set of artifacts, were found on the Rancho Camulos property or at another location in the Piru area.  Rancho Camulos Museum director Susan Falck said they were donated by a museum volunteer prior to her tenure.  However, they were not among the grinding tools found in 2014 in August Rubel’s pre-1943 museum in the winery.
For an informational treasure trove of local history, please visit www.scvhistory.com.

photos by Jessica Boyer

A Little History on Rancho Camulos Museum

Rancho Camulos Museum is located 10 miles west of Valencia on scenic Highway 126. When the ranch was granted by Mexico’s California governor to Lt. Antonio del Valle in 1839, it spanned 48,000 acres of the Santa Clarita Valley including the present communities of Newhall, Saugus, Valencia, Stevenson Ranch and surrounding areas.
Visitors can see the 1853 Del Valle adobe home, their 1860s chapel and other features on most Sunday afternoons. Along a well traveled road known as El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) lies a place out of time…Rancho Camulos. It is one of the best surviving examples of an early California rancho in its original rural environment and stands as a vibrant reminder of the state’s Spanish and Mexican heritage. Established by Ygnacio Del Valle in 1853, Rancho Camulos was once part of a 48,000 acre Mexican land grant deeded to Ygnacio’s father Antonio Del Valle in 1839.
The Del Valles were a prominent Californio family involved in state and local politics during the Mexican period and after its transition to statehood. They were famous for their generous hospitality and for maintaining the traditional rancho lifestyle long after it had disappeared elsewhere. Camulos bustled with extended family members and ranch workers, with up to 200 people living on the property during years of peak agricultural production. Among the frequent guests at Camulos during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a number of prominent writers and artists, including Charles F. Lummis, James Walker and Alexander Harmer, who were inspired time and again by the rancho’s idyllic setting.
Camulos was a noted stop along the main coach stage route—part of the original mission trail—from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Padres traveling between San Fernando and San Buenaventura  would visit the ranch to say mass for the Del Valle family and the nearby residents in the private chapel, which over the years has become endearingly referred to as “the lost mission.” Rancho Camulos remained in the Del Valle family until 1924 when it was sold to August Rübel, whose heirs have worked to protect and preserve the site.


Rancho Camulos is also part of literary folklore as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, first published in 1884 and still in print today. It is the romantic tale of a young girl  raised by a Spanish Californio family who falls in love with an Indian ranch hand. Their life together mirrors the fate of Indians at the hands of white settlers. With its tragic love story and nostalgic view of history, the dramatic tale captured the imagination of the American public and created tremendous interest in California’s Hispanic past. Tourists and settlers flocked to the region in huge numbers from the late 1880’s until the beginning of WWII.  Rancho Camulos—once a stop on the  Southern Pacific rail line—was dubbed “The Home of Ramona” and was a must-see attraction for devotees of the novel.
For more information visit: http://ranchocamulos.org/



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