San Francis Ranch (No. 208 California Historical Landmark)

Samuel Bishop arrived in Inyo County from Fort Tejon to the south during August of 1861 with hundreds of cattle. He built two small cabins and called his property San Francis Ranch. Bishop became the namesake for both Bishop Creek and the town of Bishop; which was the largest town in Inyo County at the time.

A short time after he arrived, the Paiutes became hostile and threatened his cattle and residents of the ranch. Bishop offered his ranch as the site for ranchers and Paiute chiefs to come together to create a peace treaty and prevent a war with the local Native Americans.

The peace treaty was signed on January 31, 1862 by all but one of the Pauite chiefs. The renegade chief continued his hostile behavior and disregarded the treaty. These actions eventually led to the Owens Valley Indian War that lasted from 1861 to 1865.

Bishop Creek Battleground, Mayfield Canyon Battleground, and Camp Independence are other California Historical Landmarks located in Inyo County that mark the sites involved in the Owens Valley Indian War.

This California Historical Landmark is located three miles southwest of Bishop at the intersection of Red Hill Road and State Highway 168.

Inyo County

Inyo means “dwelling place of great spirit” in Paiute Native American language. Inyo County has many “greats.” Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States and Death Valley, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, are both within Inyo’s boundaries. Great earthquakes have left their mark in recent history, changing the course of the Owens River and exposing ancient sedimentary rock.

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Latitude: 37.361118 Longitude: -118.454418 Elevation: 4403 ft

About this Establishment

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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