* Cattle: Santa Cruz Island

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Fred, the polled Hereford who grew long horns.
He was kept on the island as "a pet" to live out his life.
Marla Daily and Lyndal Laughrin, Santa Cruz Island, 1993


Cattle: Santa Cruz Island

Cattle were raised on Santa Cruz Island for 136 years (1851 until 1987). After Carey Stanton's death in December 1987, The Nature Conservancy removed the polled Herefords raised on the island. Today there are no cattle on Santa Cruz Island.

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In the News~

[1851]: “I [James B. Shaw] have paid the taxes on [Santa Cruz Island] since 1851, and have placed cattle and horses and sheep on it; built houses and made canals and cut roads on it.” Island of Santa Cruz, Andres Castillero vs. The United States; Testimony of James B. Shaw, 1857.

1852' “…Santa Cruz., which is the largest of this group, is the next island to the eastward, distant six miles; it is about 21 miles long and from 4 to 5 miles wide. There are a few cattle here, but, like all the other islands, there are no inhabitants…” [James Alden], A. D. Bache, Report of the Superintendent for the United States Coast Survey for 1852, p. 105-106.

February 5, 1874 [LAH]: “The Santa Cruz Island Company was organized in 1869, having been incorporated under State authority, with half a million dollars’ capital, for carrying on the business of sheep-husbandry, stock-raising, etc. The island of Santa Cruz, one of the Santa Barbara group, was purchased by the company as a field of operations… There are now running at liberty over the island, flocks of Spanish Merino sheep, numbering between 40,000 and 45,000 head, worth, according to the season of the year — that is to say, with or without wool on — from $2 to $3.50 each, and representing an aggregate value of $150,000. Besides these immense flocks there is a stud of about 125 saddle and draft horses and mules, some breeding mares with colts, and a fine stallion of the Morgan stock, representing a value of $10,000 to $12,000; about thirty head of fine tame Devon cattle, including bull, milk cows and their increase for the use of the island, valued altogether at about $1,200 or $1,500; and finally, perhaps, 150 head of cattle running wild in the valleys and over the mountains, and affording, whenever desired, an extra supply of fresh beef for the use of the permanent residents on the island…”

June 14, 1877 [SBDP]: “José Espinosa, with three vaqueros, lassoed a large grizzly bear last week, about thirty miles from here, over the mountains. In securing him the bear’s foreleg was broken. He was killed and brought to this market. The same party started this morning to capture a large grizzly that frequents a certain locality beyond the mountains. If successful, Mr. Espinosa intends to bring the bear in alive, and procure a large wild bull from Santa Cruz Island and have an old fashioned bull and bear fight on the 4th of July.”

August 30, 1877 [BowersFN]: “Santa Cruz Island. Saw wild cattle as we came home today. Also a wild hog.”

May 16, 1881 [SBDP]: “The schooner Star of Freedom, Captain Burtis, arrived from the Santa Cruz Island this forenoon, with a cargo of sheep and hides.”

May 19, 1885 [DAC]: “Importations. Per Santa Maria. Santa Cruz Island—677 sheep, 1 steer, 65 bls wool, 1 bx merchandise.”

July 27, 1885 [DAC]: “Importations. Per Santa Maria. Santa Cruz Island—451 sheep, 15 hogs, 1 cow, 1 steer, 2 bdls dry pelts, 1 bbl tallow.”

April 14, 1887 [SBDI]: “The Star of Freedom arrived from Santa Cruz Island with cattle on board today.”

May 9, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “The schooner Star of Freedom came in from the islands Friday evening, bringing two mules and a couple of cows, landing them in the surf.”

April 22, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “Sailor Olsen was severely hurt while unloading cattle from the steamer Santa Cruz. He was caught and crushed by the gangplank. He is laid up at the Morris House in consequence, and the attendant physician pronounces his injuries distressing, but not permanent.”

April 28, 1898 [LAT/Red]: “Shipments of 18,000 sheep and 1000 cattle from Santa Cruz Island to points in Arizona and Nebraska are being made through this port.”

May 21, 1898 [SBMP]: “The steamer Santa Cruz arrived from the island yesterday with 240 head of cattle and 224 sheep. She left for the return trip at midnight.”

June 11, 1898 [SBMP]: “Stock shipments from Santa Rosa Island have been concluded; some cattle will yet be shipped from the island of Santa Cruz.”

June 16, 1898 [SBMP]: “Five hundred cars of livestock were shipped from Santa Barbara and Ellwood during the past two months. Nearly half of this great number were from Santa Rosa Island… There is a considerable quantity of stock believed to be on Santa Cruz Island yet, but it is stated that there will be no large shipments.”

April 17, 1900 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Cruz returned from the islands Sunday night with a cargo of beef cattle for Sherman & Ealand which she discharged.”

November 21, 1901 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Cruz arrived from Santa Cruz Island yesterday with six head of stock and other island products. The stock was landed through the surf.”

March 29, 1904 [SCICo National Diary 1903]: “On the 6th October, 1903 aboard the Pasadena were imported on the island 302 heifers from Paso Robles: 99 between 15 and 24 months old, 203 calves between 5 and 9 months old… A few suffered from the hardships of transportation…”

November 29, 1905 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Cruz returned to Prisoners’ Harbor yesterday morning after unloading a string of cattle at this port for Sherman & Ealand. The cattle were thrown overboard and forced to swim ashore.”

December 3, 1905 [SBMP]: “The steam schooner Santa Cruz came in yesterday morning with twelve head of cattle for Sherman & Ealand. The stock was unloaded east of Stearn’s Wharf, being thrown overboard and forced to swim ashore.”

July 5, 1906 [SBMP]: “The island schooner Santa Cruz came into port yesterday afternoon with four employees of the company. The schooner had 200 head of cattle aboard for San Pedro, sailed for port later in the day.

September 27, 1906 [SBI]: “The schooner Santa Cruz arrived last evening from Santa Cruz Island, bringing a number of head of cattle from Prisoners’ Harbor. She will remain in port for a couple of days, taking on supplies for the island camps.”

September 28, 1906 [SBI]: “The Santa Cruz, which arrived yesterday with cattle from Santa Cruz Island, is still in port. She is taking on supplies for the island camps and will probably be able to take her departure for Prisoners’ Harbor at some time tomorrow.”

August 6, 1907 [LAT]: “When the power schooner Santa Rosa Island, Capting Widing, was returning from Santa Cruz Island with a cargo of cattle about a week ago, one particularly big fat steer was overcome by a feeling of homesickness and, being lothe to leave the good pastures of his former home, leaped overboard from the schooner and ’steered’ for shore. At the time, the schooner was about three miles out, and a heavy rough sea was running, and darkness had come on. Captain Widing never expected to see the steer again, and charged him up to profit and loss, but when the Santa Rosa Island returned to the island last Friday for another load, his steership was one of the first inhabitants to welcome the vessel. Yesterday the Santa Rosa Island returned here and the steer was one of the steer-age passengers.”

November 1907 [C. B. Linton]: “Santa Cruz Island is very mountainous, with wide valleys intervening. There are perhaps 40,000 sheep on the island, a few cattle, immense barley fields and grape vineyards, several ranches, a large winery, and some 100 men employed during the harvesting season...”

February 5, 1910 [SBI]: “Six fancy-bred bulls for improving the stock on Santa Cruz Island were taken on board by the power schooner Santa Cruz, Captain George Nidever, this morning for shipment to the island. They were bought by the Caire family of San Francisco, owners of the island.”

October 4, 1911 [SBMP]: “Cattle pens are being arranged at the wharf for the accommodation of four cargoes of cattle and sheep from Santa Cruz Island consigned to the Gehl Packing Company.”

October 7, 1911 [SBMP]: “The Saturday afternoon crowd at the beach on the hottest day of the year was treated to a new excitement. A Santa Cruz Island steer, brought to port yesterday on the Santa Cruz Island Company's schooner, jumped overboard as the sailors were attempting to drive him up the gangway from the boat's deck to the wharf, and struck out for the beach in front of the Potter [Hotel]. Two lusty and well-mounted vaqueros that had gone to the pier to handle the 14 head of fat beef stock purchased from the island company by F. N. Gehl, the local packer, rushed to the beach to intercept the beast as he emerged from the surf, but their actions only frightened him...”

October 8, 1911 [SBMP]: “The Saturday afternoon crowd at the beach was treated to a new excitement. A Santa Cruz Island steer brought to port yesterday on the Santa Cruz Company’s schooner, jumped overboard as the sailors were attempting to drive him up the gangway from the boat’s deck to the wharf. The animal plunged headlong into the sea, swam under the wharf, and struck out for the beach in front of the Potter. Two lusty and well-mounted vaqueros that had gone to the pier to handle the fourteen head of fat beef stock purchased from the island company by F. N. Gehl, the local packer, rushed for the beach to intercept the beast as he emerged from the surf, but their actions only frightened him, and he turned back into the water and swam up toward the bath house, under the pleasure wharf, and into the midst of a crowd of bathers. The bolder spirits among these players in the surf undertook to drive the wild creature back, and he dashed through the sand and into the Plaza del Mar, with a throng of women and children scampering for safe places…”

October 13, 1911 [SBMP]: “The Santa Cruz Island schooner yesterday landed another cargo of beef cattle for the Gehl Packing company.”

August 5, 1915 [SBMP]: “Yesterday the power schooner Santa Cruz arrived from Prisoners' Harbor about 1 o'clock with 25 cattle for local butchers, and four of the steers jumped overboard from the boat as it lay at the dock, and started in a bee-line to swim back to the island. A big rescue party was hastily organized, and ten of Captain Gourley's Whitehall boats were impressed into service for the chase by vaqueros and others. The escaping bovines were overtaken at the kelp beds, and roped and towed ashore. One of the wildest of the steers made a great fight and came near climbing into the boat that was chasing him. He changed his course and swam in nearly to the pleasure wharf, and a big crowd of people on the beach, watching the excited episode, became nearly panic stricken as the maddened animal approached the shoreline, and they scampered with a rush to a place of safety, as they feared a charge of the steer on the beach. The excited animal was caught at the last with a lasso and pulled ashore and put in a corral with his mates.”

January 10, 1916 [SBDN]: “Beef cattle on county pastures in large droves… It is said that the Caire estate, on Santa Cruz Island, has 20,000 head [?]. The Channel Islands and interior of the county now have better pasturing conditions than have been known for a long time…”

March 2, 1916 [SBMP]: “A. J. Caire of San Francisco, head of the Caire Estate Company, owner of Santa Cruz Island, came over from Prisoners' Harbor last Tuesday night and left for Los Angeles yesterday, expecting to go from there direct to San Francisco. Before leaving for the south, Mr. Caire stated that things on the island were looking as well as he had ever seen them. There is a very great abundance of grass on the ranges, and all livestock is in the most flourishing condition. The main products of the island are in the line of wool, wine, and cattle, and in all of these Mr. Caire looks for the best season known in years.”

May 10, 1916 [SBDNI]: “The Santa Cruz Island company’s launch today brought over a cargo of sheep and cattle for local markets.”

October 21, 1916 [SCICo]: “Young Olivari heard in Santa Barbara that the butchers were experiencing considerable difficulty in getting beef to kill and that both Gehl and Troup were out scouring the county for cattle. Their anxiety evidently doesn't extend to the island.”

October 26, 1916 [SCICo]: “We turned the steers out on the General, letting them clean up the alfalfa there and then sent them to Christy and put them on the Opuesto where there is lots of alfalfa. The Captain states that Mr. Troup told him that he would come over next trip.”

November 1916 [SCICo]: “The writer [superintendent] is going to Scorpion on this trip of the schooner to castrate the calves there.”

March 19, 1917 [SCICo]: “Cagnazzi reports that a cow and yearling calf were killed at Smugglers during the last week and taken away. At the present price of meat this business might prove profitable to some of those fishermen.”

August 11, 1917 [SBDN]: “The power schooner Santa Cruz' arrived from Santa Cruz Island today with a load of cattle. She returned this afternoon with a cargo of supplies for the island residents.”

December 20, 1917 [SBDN]: “The schooner Santa Cruz has just brought a big load of fine sheep for the F. N. Gehl Packing Company. The island sheep and cattle are said to be in splendid condition, not having experienced the pasturage famine which prevails over the big ranges on the mainland.”

July 13, 1918 [SBMP]: “’There will be no change in the management policy of Santa Cruz Island,’ says Arthur Caire of San Francisco, who is visiting in this city. ‘The island will be run as it has been for the last 20 years, purely as an industrial enterprise. With the exception of Captain Ira K. Eaton, no boating or camping privileges have been granted, as the management wishes to confine the island to the raising of cattle, sheep and to the wine industry,’ Caire declared...”

June 18, 1919 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Cruz arrived from the island at noon yesterday with 18 head of steers aboard for the Gehl Packing Company. Her crew announced that they expect to lift anchor for Santa Cruz Island tomorrow.”

September 20, 1919 [SBMP]: “Stearn’s Wharf had many different signs of life yesterday afternoon while the Santa Cruz was unloading 25 husky steers that had been brought over from Santa Cruz Island for the San Julian ranch in the mountains about 25 miles north of Santa Barbara. The load was the first of a series of shipments of cattle from the island for this ranch. The total number to be brought over will be about 200. The steers will then be placed in cars and continue their trip by rail. One of the steers caused a great deal of commotion when he decided to lie down. Several sharp twists on his tail made him decide to stand up. He finally fell in and marched away with the rest, much to the amusement of interested spectators.”

1922 [Symmes Report]: “The cattle on the island are in general a good Shorthorn type, but include a number of off type and stunted individuals. The present herd consists of a total of 787 head, of which there were 412 range cows, 8 bulls, 145 two to four year old steers, 114 yearlings, and 116 calves at the time of our investigation. The present bulls are of little or no service and more young bulls are necessary for this number of range cows. No disease such as anthrax or black leg has ever been reported and the cattle are generally healthy without any signs of tuberculosis. Lumpy jaw is found in a few of the old cows. The cattle are divided between the various potreros and ranges where they feed in competition with large numbers of sheep. Even under these conditions, good steers have been produced on the island weighing from 1,000 to 1,150 pounds at three years.”

June 17, 1922 [SBMP]: “Another big load of sheep is expected to be brought over from Santa Cruz Island today, a cargo of 238 having been landed yesterday for the Gehl Packing Company. A third load will leave the island next week and shipments of cattle will then commence. Later rains have made a plentiful supply of fodder and cattle and sheep are reported in excellent condition.”

June 17, 1930 [SBMP]: “The escape of a wild cow from a shipment being taken off the schooner Santa Cruz on Stearn’s Wharf created a panic yesterday among bathers on West Cabrillo Beach and residents and motorists on Chapala Street.”

December 11, 1942 [E. L. Stanton letter]: “...Our portion of this island has been run as a ranch for over 100 years, primarily as a sheep ranch, but since our acquisition we are endeavoring to change to cattle. The process is a slow one as many of the sheep have gone wild and they must be cleared out. It also has been necessary to build trails and roads and arrange for proper water for the cattle. There is an abundance of water well distributed over the island... Last year we grazed 2400 head of cattle, this season should see quite an increase with a goal of 5000 head year after next. Running this as a steer ranch we will turn out 2500 head each year with a minimum of expense as we have virtually no outside fences the labor required is comparatively very small. When my predecessors settled some family litigation in 1925, the carrying capacity of the ranch was 40,000 sheep and 1,700 head of cattle...Our Port of Entry, at the present time, is Santa Barbara where there are facilities for handling livestock. Port Hueneme, which is on the coast much nearer to Los Angeles, was available to us before the war. The Navy Department has taken over this port for the duration, which will revert back after the war is over. Port Hueneme is much better for us at the water route as the same in miles but better sailing, and is 40 miles closer to market in Los Angeles...”

November, 1944 [VCY/25]: “E. L. Stanton, Long Beach oil man who owns 54,000 acres on Santa Cruz Island, announced that some 40,000 sheep on the island will be killed off and replaced with cattle.”

August 29-September 14, 1948 [O. P. Pearson Field Notes]: “… Because of drought almost all the cattle have been moved off Stanton’s end (west) of the island [Santa Cruz Island.] They have only a half dozen cattle (all around the ranch buildings)… Pete [Olivari], who has worked on the island for 47 years, says the island might support 2,000 steers…”