Warner Springs Ranch, San Diego County, CA

Warm springs at Warner’s Ranch. Photo (2009) by Kenneth Mays.

Through the first three weeks of January 1847, the Mormon Battalion moved from the Anza-Borrego Desert through Warner’s Pass, arriving at Warner’s Ranch on January 22.

To some extent, circumstances improved, particularly the food and water supplies. The temperature was cooler, soils were better, and there were more trees. Some battalion members traded with Native Americans. Others in the Battalion were nearly naked and had to beg for food.

Monument and interpretive plaque at Warner’s Ranch. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.

John Trumball Warner, later Juan Jose Warner of Mexico, had this successful cattle ranch as a result of a land grant. Sherman Fleek says that Warner’s spread encompassed some 48,000 acres. While there, battalion members were given an extra day to rest.

Near that ranch is a series of hot springs where Battalion members could bathe, rest and heal from the torturous journey they were pursuing. The food rations were increased slightly while the battalion was there. Norma Baldwin Ricketts notes that some battalion members bought a hog from Warner and enjoyed their first pork in quite a while and thought that they had never tasted anything so good. Better still, as Fleek notes, Warner’s Ranch meant that there were no more deserts to cross.

William Coral recorded in his journal that while at Warner Springs Ranch rumors were floating around that peace had been declared for the war with Mexico. However, they could neither confirm nor reject those rumors. Moreover, it was here that the battalion members learned the disappointing news that battalion leader Philip St. George Cooke had decided to go to Los Angeles rather than San Diego.

The ranch subsequently became a way station for travelers on the Southern Emigrant Trail and Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach. Two original buildings (1849, 1857) have been restored and are open to the public during limited hours.

An entrance point at Warner Springs Ranch. Photo (2009) by Kenneth Mays.

Map and Directions

The formal address of the site is: 31652 CA-79, Warner Springs, CA 92086. It is near the intersection of SR 79 and CR S2.

Ownership Status

Warner Springs Ranch is a privately owned resort offering such amenities as lodging, golf, tennis, mineral springs, and dining. Presently (2022) the entire facility is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information they can be contacted at 720-782-4200.

Photos

View of one of the pools at Warner Springs Ranch. Photo (2009) by Kenneth Mays.
Pool at Warner Springs Ranch. Photo (2009) by Kenneth Mays.
Broader view of the area around Warner Springs Ranch. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Articles and Resources

Norma Baldwin Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion: U. S. Army of the West, 1846-1848, 115-116.

Stanley B. Kimball, Historic Sites and Markers Along the Mormon and Other Great Western Trails, 230.

Samuel H. Rogers, cited in David L. Bigler and Will Bagley, eds., Army of Israel: Mormon Battalion Narratives, 168.

Sherman L. Fleek, History May Be Searched in Vain: A Military History of the Mormon Battalion, 312-313.

Michael N. Landon and Brandon J. Metcalf, The Remarkable Journey of the Mormon Battalion, 73.

Kenneth Mays, “Picturing History,” https://www.deseret.com/2015/12/23/20579274/picturing-history-warner-s-ranch-san-diego-county-california.