About our RV Park in San Diego
Lakeside History of the Rancho Los Coches RV Park & Land
In the beginning… Native American Indians inhabited the area upon which the Windmill House rests. Ample evidence exists with metate holes in granite boulders at the base of the Windmill’s fireplace and elsewhere. Manos (the hand stones used with the mutates) and pottery shards found on the property attest to an earlier culture. 1843 This property was the smallest Mexican land grant when the area was under Mexican rule in the 19th century. Locally appointed governors were authorized to dole out tracts to their friends. Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted a tract of 28.39 acres to Apolinaria Lorenzana. At the time the property had been grazed by the Mission San Diego’s cattle and hogs for over a half century. Lorenzana was one of eight orphans from Mexico. All the orphans were given the same last name, that of the archbishop of Mexico. She became known as “La Beata” meaning a woman who devoted her life to works of charity and religion. Rancho Los Coches, then known as Canada de Los Coches or “The Vale of the Hogs” provided food supplies to the San Diego Mission. Although the grant of Los Coches was made to Apolinaria Lorenzana, confirmation of the title by the United States Land Commission was to Ancleto Lestrada, a Los Angeles priest. In 1870 the property was deeded to Thaddius Amat, Bishop of Los Angeles and Monterey. 1859 The operation of the ranch was taken over by Perfect and Jesse Wilbur Ames (baptized into the Catholic church as Jesse Julian Ames). He was a New England seaman who came around the Horn and lived in Baja California for a time before marrying Perfecta and moving to San Diego toward the end of the period of Mexican rule. Ames served in the U.S. Army and held some minor political posts under American rule but his claim to fame is the development of Rancho Los Coches. He built a spacious adobe house, the first permanent building on the ranch, and raised herds of sheep and cattle, grew vegetables and farmed large plots of wheat outside the ranch. With seeds shipped from Spain, he planted a wall of huge cactus to keep the cattle in and the garden thieves out. Some of his wall still stands. He did not do all of this alone. He and Perfecta had a large family and he supervised a great many Indians who helped with the labor. The Indians in the area were Dieguenos, Jacumbas and Conejos. Rocks along the creek are still full of deep holes called morteros or metates in which Indians ground dried acorns for a mush called “sowee.” They used stones called manos (hand stones) for grinding. A gristmill was erected later and the grinding was done on volcanic stones with wheels turned by horses. Ames built a stone coral, part of which is still standing, which served as a station for the Butterfield Stage route that ran from San Diego into the mountains, as well as one of the stations from San Diego to San Antonio known as the “Jackass Mail” route. In 1866 Julian Ames died attempting to bring a doctor to the ranch to aid his wife in child birth – their 10th child. 1874 Bishop Amat deeded the property to the widow Perfeta de Ames. Eventually the Ames family lost the ranch and it changed hands several times. There are descendants of Jesse Wilbur (Julian) Ames and Perfecta Espinosa Ames in the San Diego area. 1925 Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Wheatley, writers, acquired Los Coches and it is this couple who constructed the Windmill House. The electricity generated by the windmill provided power for the house and enabled the pumping of water. A large pulley is still affixed to the windmill’s shaft. Additionally, a belt that ran between pulleys is still in the loft above the upstairs bedroom. A large water storage tank was also built onto its roof. 1973 George B. Ramstead of Lakeside bought the property when it was a 29 space trailer park. 1984 George and Jo Ann Ramstead renovated the Windmill House which deteriorated considerably. They did an amazing job of restoration while keeping the important historical sections of the ranch intact on 12 of the original 28.39 acres. An existing photograph depicts the old adobe and shop building (location between Los Coches Creek and existing Windmill House). 1986 The Ramsteads expanded and now the five-star park has 142 crushed rock sites with concrete patios, full hook-ups including cable TV and phone hookups at all sites. The park is nicely terraced and heavily landscaped with mature growth. The interior roads are paved and spotless. There is a clubhouse, heated pool and spa, laundry room and immaculate restrooms with hot showers. 2012 Inevitably, changes have wrought a different landscape and use of “The Glen of the Hogs”. Still there are some remnants of yesteryear:
- A portion of rock wall that impounded livestock
- Two huge boulders that formed a very basic smokehouse still exist, although the roof succumbed to the elements long ago
- Artifacts found while excavating for construction including handmade tile from the Ames’ adobe, a part from an old muzzle loader and a coin from 1853.
- And, of course, the Windmill House, 87 years young and going for a century.