California History

Rancho Los Alamitos History Timeline

6400 Bixby Hill Road, Long Beach, Ca 90815
(Enter through residential security gate at the intersection of Anaheim and Palo Verde). This is an actual California rancho open to the public as Rancho Los Alamitos museum.
Tel: 562-431-3541

Rancho Los Alamitos began during the rancho days. 

California Rancho era is an important part of the history of the state that took place shortly before California received its statehood in 1850. The rancho era began as settlers came to the region from other countries and began farming and raising livestock. Before this time the native populations tended to travel more and live between summer and winter locations as the weather and natural resources changed seasonally.

1806 - Rancho Los Alamitos went to Juan Jose Nieto.  Disputes with Mission San Gabriel had reduced his father's holdings to 167,000 acres and in 1806 when heirs petitioned to split the land into five great ranchos, and the 28,500 acres Rancho Los Alamitos became an outpost ranch.

1810 - The Mexican War for Independence began in 1810. Prior to this time, California was under Spanish rule.

1822 - Mexico took control over California in 1822, beginning the Rancho period. The processing and exporting of cow hides and tallow (fat used in the making of soap and candles) was the primary economic activity of the Californios (the name given to the people living in Alta California during this time period).

The small band of 200 cattle brought to California by Gaspar de Portola's expedition, and the few that survived the overland trek with Anza's party, provided the original stock from which the local herds developed. These cattle yielded hides and tallow in abundance for export. No widespread planting of crops occurred on the ranchos. 

1834 - Governor Jose Figueroa purchased the Alamitos property for $500 (less than 2 cents an acre)

1842 - Abel Stearns (1798-1871) bought Rancho Los Alamitos for $6,000 and owned it from 1842 until 1866, when losses due to drought forced foreclosure of the Alamitos property.  By this time planting of crops was introduced. He and his wife Arcadia Bandini Stearns used Alamitos as their summer retreat from Los Angeles. Stearns was an active rancher, but the great drought of 1862-64 killed thousands of cattle

1866 - Mortgage holder San Francisco financier Michael Reese takes possession of the rancho.

1878 - John Bixby leased Alamitos and moved his young family into the deteriorated adobe.

1881 - In partnership with Jotham Bixby and W. Hellman, John Bixby was able to acquire the property. John and his wife, Susan, planted trees and a garden, and began transforming the worn structure into a home.

1906 - John's son Fred, and his wife Florence, moved into the ranch house in 1906. While Florence created the expansive gardens that surround the house today, Fred focused on ranching, business, oil and his passion for breeding majestic Shire horses.

1936 - Florence Bixby writes: "It was a feeling of life that had been lived here before ... a thousand human influences ... as though a great river were flowing past, steadily, smoothly ... the continuity of life, that was the secret."

1952 - Fred Bixby died.

1961 - Florence lived at the ranch house until her death in 1961.

1968 - Descendants gave the furnished house, gardens and six barns to the City of Long Beach to maintain and develop as a regional historic and educational facility.

When visiting, you can roam the grounds to enjoy lush gardens and the shaded lawns and hills that speak of a simpler time. When visiting the rancho visitors often comment that the outdoor landscape is beautiful, though not necessarily for an abundance of flowering plants. 

The rancho grounds are operated by the City of Long Beach, much like its counter-part Rancho Los Cerritos. When you find yourself with a weekend free, take the drive to the campus perimeter of Cal State Long Beach and enter Bixby guard gated homes development to enjoy the rancho.

Rancho Los Alamitos is located at 6400 Bixby Hill Rd. in Long Beach. It is open Wednesday-Sunday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm. For more information call Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens at 562-431-3541

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info