The hills and valleys of what is now known as Daley Ranch were frequented for centuries by Native Californians of the Kumeyaay, Luiseño, and other local tribes. Evidence of their passing can be seen in the soot-stained ceilings of boulder caves where these early Californians took refuge from the elements. Metates and morteros, holes ground into boulder tops, give evidence of food preparation by women who gathered together to grind seeds and acorns.
The first European settler to arrive in this valley was a young English immigrant named Robert Daley. He settled into this valley in 1869 and built a small log cabin. This cabin now sits at the bottom of one of the ranch's ponds. After a federal survey of the land in 1875, Robert Daley's claim to the land was reaffirmed and he was granted two officials claims of 1,600 acres each. A few years later, he moved to a small tongue and groove pine house, which still stands on a knoll across from the existing Daley ranch house. The Daley family farmed, raised horses, and continued to acquire land.
Robert Daley died in 1916, and his family then moved to Jamul. They continued to use the Daley Ranch as a dairy and in 1928 built the current ranch house out of single-board heart redwood. Used primarily as a place to get away from it all, as well as for summer entertaining, its one-board thickness made it too cold for year-round living. Even a massive fireplace, whose cobblestones were brought around the cape by clipper ship, was unable to provide enough warmth.
In 1996, plans to develop this land were halted when the Escondido City Council voted to purchase and forever protect the 3,058-acre ranch as habitat preserve.
For information on preserving California's historic heritage, please visit www.ohp.parks.ca.gov.