The McFarland Living History Ranch, Galt, CA
(Site update 3-2-2012)

CHECK HERE to go to the McFarlandRanch.org website

Very little work had been done by the time that this photo was taken (abt. 2005).

The McFarland Ranch, originally a part of the vast land holdings of John McFarland, is now owned by the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation, and a portion of it is leased to the Galt Area Historical Society to be preserved for the people of the Galt area.

The ranch was owned and farmed by John McFarland who came to this valley in 1853 and purchased 1,800 acres of farmland to grow grain. John McFarland became a rancher of prominence and was the man who gave Galt its name, naming the town after a small town in Ontario, Canada, where he had lived with his parents. When John McFarland died, he willed all his land and his lovely two story home to his niece, Mrs. Mary Orr. When she died, she left the land and home to her daughters.

Her daughter, Beatrice Smithson, who was born on the ranch, remained there until her death. At that time she sold the entire estate to the Nature Conservancy, with the understanding that the home of John McFarland would be preserved for history.

The Nature Conservancy sold a portion of the land and the house to the Sacramento County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. Knowing how important the home was to the history of the people of the area, the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Gene Andal, approached the Galt Area Historical Society to see if the members would be interested in working with his department to preserve the home and 35 acres of land around it.

The society has agreed to a 99-year lease and have negotiated to create a "Living History Ranch" on the site ", with the home of John McFarland becoming an area museum. The ranch will offer an opportunity to children and their families to experience the life of pioneer farmers as it was at the turn of the century.

On March 13th 1999 the McFarland Living History Ranch on Orr Road had its official Ground Breaking Ceremony. About 100 people attended the ceremony and heard the guest speakers share some history of the ranch as well as offer visions of what is to come.

Speakers for the day, introduced by the Society's first President, Louise Dowdell, were Ron Suter, Director of Sacramento County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Open Space, Supervisor, 5th district, Don Nottoli, and the great great grand niece of John McFarland, Charlene Mathews.

Also present among the members and guest were Gene Andal, former Director of the Sacramento County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Open Space; Galt City Council Members Jeff Bryant and Christina De La Cruz; Mike Eaton, Director of the Consumnes River Preserve; Laura Svendsgaard, Fund Development Officer, Sacramento County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Open Space, and Winifred Ehrhardt, great great grand niece of John McFarland.

The McFarland Ranch is considered a "Living History" ranch that will provide a tangible way for visitors to learn about farming as it was in pioneer days, and times in history that are no more. Anyone who would like to help can do so by calling (209) 745 0951. We will be anticipating the Ranch to be ready within a two-to-three year period to open its gates to visitors.

McFarland Ranch has its own website. Maps and directions.

Home page

Galt Area Historical Society, Inc
P. O. Box 782
Galt, CA. 95632
(209) 745 0951

To join the Galt Area Historical Society, here is the application.

Last edited 9 March, 2006