The See Canyon Fruit Ranch, whose lovely grounds today attract such a variety of visitors (apple lovers, Sunday drivers, wedding guests and more), has a long local history. The original owner, James Brown fought for the Union during the Civil War against a Confederate army that included his own brother. Afterward, he moved to New Mexico where his wife gave birth to a daughter, Rose. Some years later, he and his family headed for California, picking up two Colorado farm hands on the way. One of these hands, George Mann, was eventually to marry Rose.
First, however, James Brown purchased the See Canyon property on July 6, 1894 from W.C. Rutan and named it the See Canyon Fruit Ranch. The ranch remained in the family for one hundred years before his great grand daughter, Margaret, finally sold it in 1994. Over time, the family tried growing many different crops, finally concluding that the canyon was too cold for strawberries. Walnuts and peaches did better, but the land proved best suited for apples grown from old original trees and other heirloom varieties, which he and his descendents planted. They also raised bees and harvested honey, and in fact the original “honey hut,” now a small house, still stands on the property.
In time, Rose and her husband George inherited the land from James Brown. They had two daughters but lost one of them, Gertrude, when she was still quite a young woman. The other, Mabel, married Roy Sherlock. In 1921, the ranch was passed on to this new young couple who owned it until 1936. Like her grandfather before her, Mabel had but a single daughter, Margaret (pictured right).
During those years, Roy worked his fields of peaches and strawberries with horses and a plow. His team, however, finally got too old for such heavy labor and he decided to replace them with a tractor. He found one for sale in San Luis Obispo and took his daughter Margaret to see it. There, Margaret met her future husband, tractor-owner Tom DeVaul, for the first time. Tom personally delivered the tractor to the ranch and their courtship began shortly thereafter. The tractor that launched the romance is now displayed prominently at the entrance to the old apple barn.
See Canyon Fruit Ranch visitors can presently purchase many of the original apple varieties planted by James Brown’s descendents. For example, the ranch sells Golden Delicious, Winter Banana and Pearmain among other varieties. Perhaps best of all, visitors can simply sit on the bench with a cup of fresh cider and take time to enjoy the years of handiwork that went into the building of this peaceful family homestead.