Story of Leo Carrillo Ranch
preservationist and conservationist Leo Carrillo (1880-1961)
was born in Los Angeles. But his beginnings were in San Diego's
Old Town where his grandparents Josefa (Bandini) and Boston-educated
Pedro Carrillo, were married, maintained their residence and
raised a large family. As a wedding gift, Governor Pio Pico
awarded them title to Coronado Island which they sold 23 years
later for $1,000. As Leo jokingly observed, "I think the
family let it go too soon."
an entertainer Leo was highly successful, appearing in 15 major
stage plays (several on Broadway) and more than 90 motion pictures
in which he was featured in supporting or character roles. He
worked with the very biggest stars in the Hollywood galaxy.
However, Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho,
the mischievous sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid in a
pioneering television series of the early 1950's.
entirely in color - a first in tv production - its 156 action-western
episodes ran for six enormously popular years. (The Cisco Kid
was based on an O. Henry short story which in turn was drawn
from Cervantes' Don Quixote. In this classic Spanish novel the
sidekick was named Sancho Panza.)
his showmanship blossomed Leo experienced parallel success as
a politically well-connected supporter of recreational and cultural
resources for the public. He served 18 years on the California
Beaches and Parks Commission and the Leo Carrillo State Park
near Malibu is named in his honor. He was a key factor in the
development of the Los Angeles Olvera Street complex, the Los
Angeles Arboretum and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Most
notably, his personal relationship with the family led to the
acquisition of the exquisite Hearst Castle at San Simeon. He
toured the world as the state's official Ambassador of Good
Will. Small wonder Governor Edmund G. Brown called Leo "Mr.
the peak of his film career Leo felt an intense yearning to
find a retreat where he could re-create an Old California-style
working rancho, an important cultural asset he felt was rapidly
dying out. In 1937 he came across the Rancho de Los Kiotes in
what is now southeast Carlsbad and which was once owned by the
Kelly family, very large, long-standing landowners in the area.
Leo quickly snapped up his first 840 acres for $65,000 or $77
per acre. He immediately began construction of 18 structures
necessary for his ranch operations and, over time, increased
his spread to 2,538 acres.
1977 the city acquired a tiny 10.5 acre remnant that contained
and protected the most critical original buildings. Thanks to
a state preservation grant and matching funds contributed by
local civic organizations, some of the buildings were seismic
retrofitted and partially restored in 1992. A $5.5 million catch-up
round of restoration has now been completed.
A required transfer of 16.4 acres from contiguous residential
developers has expanded the Park site to 27 acres.
Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is an extraordinary educational
and passive recreational resource, the envy of all Californians,
and a visitor destination.
website is presented as a public service by the Friends of Carrillo
Ranch, Inc. Annual dues are $10.00 for singles or couples and
include First Class mail delivery of the Carrillo Ranch Review .
Business and organization memberships are not accepted; individuals
only. To join or for more information, send your check or inquiry
P.O. Box 130145
Carlsbad, CA 92013-0145
Telephone and e-mail access is made available
to members in good standing.