Helen Hunt Jackson Returns

Rancho Camulos Museum near Piru is a National Historic Landmark. It received this designation because of its role in California history, Californio history, California agriculture’s history, and because it is acknowledged as the “Home of Ramona.” Rancho Camulos is considered to be one of the settings for Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel, “Ramona.” Ms. Jackson, a poet and travel writer turned activist for Native American rights, wrote this novel after her book, “Century of Dishonor,” failed to rally attention to the mistreatment of Native Americans, particularly through government policy.

While the novel did have some impact on policies regarding Native Americans, its major impact was that it caused the first tourism boom to California. People fell in love with the beautiful Senorita Ramona who fell in love with the handsome Indian Allesandro and lived in the golden hills of California. The novel’s popularity, paralleling the expansion of the nation’s railroads and fueled by the promotional efforts of the railroad entrepreneurs, put the “Home of Ramona” on the map.

Therefore, it has become a tradition at Rancho Camulos Museum to pay homage to its history and begin the year with an historical reenactment of Helen Hunt Jackson’s visit to Camulos that resulted in its becoming one of the settings of this quintessential California novel that is still in print today. Visitors can share the living history experience as costumed docents portray Ms. Jackson, and the members of the Del Valle family as they welcome her to their 1853 adobe.

However, the visitors won’t meet Ramona. Why? Because Ramona was a fictional character created by Ms. Jackson, as she wove together stories gathered as she traveled throughout Southern California. They will hear these stories as well as have an opportunity to experience 19th century Californio rancho life. Step back in time on Saturday, January 28, at 1:00 PM and join us as we welcome Mrs. Jackson as she returns to Rancho Camulos, where the history, myth, and romance of old California still linger.

Adults $5, Children 12 and under free