Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> HARRY CAREY RANCH
Harry Carey with Flock of Sheep
Harry Carey Ranch, Saugus

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DC3004 Full View

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DC3004 Closeup

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We don't know who's pictured with actor Harry Carey at his Saugus ranch. If it's his only daughter Ella (aka Cappy), born in November 1923, this photograph would date to around 1930. This is 1926 or 1927, prior to the St. Francis Dam Disaster of March 1928, which wiped out the foliage that's seen here.

This photo is sans caption, but Dobe (Harry Carey Jr.) wrote captions on the back of similiar photos, in which he identified the sheep as "Navajo sheep," an apparent reference to the Natajo workers who lived at the ranch until about one month prior to the dam break. They didn't come back afterward. Dobe also identified similar photographs as 1926 or 1927.


The Carey family was in New York when the St. Francis Dam broke on the night of March 12, 1928. Afterward Harry Carey Sr. was reluctant to return. Their ranch manager Clinton Harter and his wife Marian had been killed, as was the Careys' cook, Solomon Bird. All three lived at the trading post, which Clinton and Marian operated. And now, even the trading post was gone.

When the family did finally return, Harry Carey threw himself into the work of restoring the property into a true working ranch — as opposed to the tourist attraction it had been.

"He said, 'I won't go back to that graveyard,'" Harry Carey Jr. (Dobe) remembered in a 2005 interview. "Finally my mom, our mom, drove up with our uncle ... and looked it over, and she came back and she told our dad that it was like a sick child that needed caring for. And then he went up and looked at it and they said, 'Let's move back.'"

"It was the happiest time of my father's life," the younger Harry Carey said, "reconstructing that old place, which had been abused by tourists and stuff there. A lot of people shooting holes in things ... When he was back there, fixing that place up again, I think it was the happiest time of his life. He was just in seventh heaven."

"We were all kind of camping out while he was nailing up the boards," Harry Sr.'s daughter Ella (Cappy) added.


Actor Harry Carey (Sr.) acquired a homestead at the mouth of San Francisquito Canyon in 1916 and established a rancho. The ranch included the Carey's wooden ranch home as well as several outbuildings and the Harry Carey Trading Post, which was a tourist attraction that included billed entertainment from Navajo Indians and other performers, along with a store that sold Western and Indian curios. The ranch was occasionally used for filming. The Careys' son, Harry Carey Jr. (Dobe), who would follow in his father's acting footsteps, was born in the Carey ranch home in 1921.

The trading post washed away in the St. Francis Dam disaster of March 1928 and was not rebuilt. The Indians left about a month earlier. According to Dobe, a shaman saw "a big crack and predicted it would break." The ranch house was situated at a higher elevation and survived the flood, only to burn down in 1932. The Careys replaced it by building a Spanish adobe home, which they sold with the rancho in 1945.

Harry Carey was born Henry DeWitt Carey II on January 16, 1878 on 116th Street in the Bronx section of New York City. His father was a special-sessions judge and president of a sewing machine company. Harry attended a military academy but declined an appointment to West Point, instead trying his hand as a playwright.

According to the Internet Movie Database: In 1911, his friend Henry B. Walthall introduced him to director D.W. Griffith, for whom Carey was to make many films. Carey married twice [correx: 3 times; see here], the [third] time to actress Olive Fuller Golden (aka Olive Carey), who introduced him to future director John Ford. Carey influenced Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle to use Ford as a director, and a partnership was born that lasted until a rift in the friendship in 1921.

During this time, Carey grew into one of the most popular Western stars of the early motion picture, occasionally writing and directing films as well. In the 1930s he moved slowly into character roles and was nominated for an Oscar for one of them, the president of the Senate in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). He worked once more with Ford, in "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936), and appeared once with his son, Harry Carey Jr., in Howard Hawks' "Red River" (1948).

He died Sept. 21, 1947, in Brentwood, after a protracted bout with emphysema and cancer. Ford dedicated his remake "3 Godfathers" (1948) "To Harry Carey — Bright Star Of The Early Western Sky."

Carey would appear in at least 233 films, including short features, between 1909 and 1949.

Further reading: Harry Carey Ranch: Historic American Buildings Survey No. CA-2712.


DC3004a: 9600 dpi jpeg from original print courtesy of Harry Carey Jr.
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Interview: Dobe & Cappy Carey 2005

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Video: Dobe Returns 2009


SEE ALSO:
• Harry Carey Jr. in the Movies
• More Harry Carey Ranch Photos
HARRY CAREY JR. COLLECTION

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Infant Dobe 1921

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Cappy ~1925

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Dobe & Cappy ~1925

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Harry Sr. x2

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Olive Carey x2

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Original House x2

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Wide View of Ranch

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Trading Post

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John Ford Filming

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Charlie Russell Cabin

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C.M. Russell, Frank Spearman

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Navajo People x4

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Shelter 1920s x2

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Silver Jewelry

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Corral & Stables

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Riding & Roping x4

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Post-Dam Break x3

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Livestock (Mult.)

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Adobe Home

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Hollywood Walk

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