Harry Carey Sr. was an early silent-screen actor who starred in more than 200 films. In 1916 he took over the homestead rights of a previous settler and established his ranch of almost 2,000 acres. Carey, the first of many film actors to settle in the Santa Clarita Valley, built the original wood-frame ranch house. He and his actress wife, Olive, raised two children, Harry Carey Jr. (Dobe) and Ella Carey Taylor (Cappy)—who were both born on the ranch in the 1920s.
Carey Sr. helped establish the Santa Clarita Valley as a center of Western-genre filmmaking. The ranch was used in many silent movies and Western serials.
Oscar-winning director John Ford learned his trade on the Harry Carey Ranch. Many distinguished celebrities visited Tesoro Adobe, including William S. Hart, Charles Russell, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, and John Wayne.
The first tourist attraction in Santa Clarita, the ranch housed horses, cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, and every stray dog that Harry Carey found.
More than 40 Navajo lived on the ranch, tending sheep, weaving blankets, making silver jewelry, and comprising the community of the Harry Carey Trading Post.
When the St. Francis Dam broke on March 12, 1928, floodwaters washed through the Careys' beloved ranch. Fortunately, the family was away at the time, as were the Navajo, who had
returned to their Southwest homes a month earlier under the advisement of a medicine man predicting that the dam would break. The Trading Post was totally destroyed and the caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Harter, were killed. More than 450 other people also lost their lives as the wall of water decimated San Francisquito Canyon and wound its way to the Pacific Ocean via the Santa Clara River.
The Carey family sold the ranch in the mid 1940s. In 1952 the Clougherty family, owners of the meat-packing company Farmer John, purchased the property to raise livestock. "FJ," Farmer John's trademark cattle-brand, can still be seen throughout the property. The Cloughertys held on to the ranch until 2005, when
it was donated as Tesoro Adobe Historic Park to Los Angeles County from Montalvo Properties, LLC, the developer of the Tesoro residential community. Because of the Cloughertys' efforts, this historic ranch has been preserved as a reminder of Santa Clarita's western heritage.