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It was famous! It's a national landmark! Yet, most don't know this Ventura County ranch exists

An artist working on a drawing during an artist's day even at the Rancho Camulus Museum in Ventura County.
An artist working on a drawing during a special event at the Rancho Camulus Museum in Ventura County.

A hit novel turned it into a tourism hotspot for years ... but, that was back in the 1880s.

It’s a scenic, and historic gem hidden in plain sight.

Thousands of cars and trucks go whizzing by it every day, as they travel on Highway 126 between Ventura and Valencia. It doesn’t look like much from the highway. But, if you stop you car, and take a few steps, you can actually travel back more than 150 years in time.

"Rancho Camulos Museum is a National Historic Landmark, the only one in Ventura County. Some of our buildings go back to the 1850's," said Susan Faulk, the Director of the Rancho Camulos Museum. It’s a 40-acre National Historic Landmark which is in the middle of a working 1800 acre ranch.

"We have our main adobe house, we have a chapel, a schoolhouse, and also there's a carriage house," said Faulk.

While it’s an almost forgotten landmark now, in the 1800’s it was one of Southern California’s hottest tourist attractions. Author Helen Hunt Jackson wrote a novel set around the ranch which became a runaway hit. The book was called Ramona.

But, for those visiting today, it’s a slice of paradise. Some 40 artists from throughout Southern California are scattered around the landmark, painting and drawing scenes from the historic site.

The artists day is put together by a small arm of docents, who also act as tour guide for the people visiting the historic landmark.

Docent Hillary Weireter talks about why this is such a special place. "The beauty of it...there's always something blooming...we have our 22 room adobe house...the grounds are to die for...and the history."

Diane Babko is another docent. She loves sharing the landmark’s story with visitors, especially because her great-grandmother worked here around a hundred years ago. "I hope they (visitors) take away the family stories, the stories of these people who really helped decide what California would be about," said Babko.

The Rancho Camulos Museum is about 10 miles east of Fillmore on Highway 126. It’s open to the public from one to four on Sundays, but tours can be arranged on other days through the museum. The historic site also hosts special events like weddings.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.