More than twenty sites survive from Seabiscuit owner Charles Howard's occupancy. He constructed most of the buildings for his 1930s - 40s thoroughbred operation. Seabiscuit's specially constructed stud barn serves as a centerpiece.
A few structures utilized by Howard date back to entrepreneur William Van Arsdale. Besides his 1905 Craftsman home and carriage house, which may be architecturally significant, Van Arsdale's most important contribution was an elaborate water system, with powerhouse to electrify the Ranch.
Other important sites include remains of Pomo villages and a 19th century family graveyard.
The primary threat to historic Ridgewood Ranch is deterioration of sites due to weather and aging, combined with inadequate finances for maintenance and rehabilitation. Urgent attention is necessary to prevent imminent destruction.
Ridgewood Ranch is important for a number of reasons-historic, cultural and environmental. As home to America's Depression- area icon Seabiscuit, it is nationally significant. As a working ranch, it continues historic farming traditions, contributes to the local economy, and retains its cultural landscape setting. As ranches and farms in the West are lost to development, a historic property the size of Ridgewood Ranch gains in significance and its value to the public as open space is enhanced. The Ranch contains numerous natural resources, including 2200 acres of oak woodlands and five miles of steelhead creeks.
Culturally, Ridgewood retains vestiges of its aboriginal population, a group of Northern Pomo who occupied three villages and a campsite on the land prior to white incursion in the 1850's. Historically, a pre-1905 reservoir and water system is maintained and still utilized. The associated electric powerhouse with Pelton wheel, although in disuse, still stands.
Ridgewood Ranch is historically unique in its association with the renowned racehorse Seabiscuit, who lived here during a period of recuperation from injury in 1939 and enjoyed his retirement here from 1940-47. Although racehorse owner Charles Howard purchased the ranch in 1921 as a cattle ranch and country home, he transformed it into a thoroughbred facility unparalleled in the state. That the ranch became home and final resting place of Seabiscuit makes it unique. That so many of Howard's ranch buildings still stand - testimony to horse racing's heyday of the 1930's and 1940's - adds to Ridgewood's historical significance.
Among other facilities, Howard constructed two fine, large mare barns, a breeding barn, feed barns, paddocks and even a half-track to accommodate his new operation. After Seabiscuit's blaze-of-glory career finish at Santa Anita and retirement to the ranch, Howard built him a special stud barn within view of the family home. Over the next seven years until his death, Seabiscuit and Ridgewood Ranch became a tourist attraction like no other. Charles Howard and his wife Marcella accommodated the horse's dedicated fans with regular visiting hours. More than 5000 visitors signed the guest book at the stud barn during the horse's retirement years.
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