Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Canal Farm Inn

Merced County August 16, 1993
Motoring up I-5 to Los Banos and a couple of state landmarks related to the town’s founder, Henry Miller, the ’51 Caddy’s wonderbar AM radio picks up Los Banos’ own KLBS ‘The Portuguese Radio’ serving the central valley  Not knowing the language makes one wonder about details of conversation but it seemed to be about local agriculture and livestock and call in music requests.

In the trek up I-5 Los Banos is the reward for those northbound travelers with bladders strong enough to bypass  Kettleman City and Coalinga and hold on to find some local fare. So it’s time to roll up to the Canal Farm Inn in hopes of a landmark and a meal.  

German born Henry Miller (originally Heinrich Kreiser) ‘The Cattle King’ showed up in San Francisco in 1850 at age 23 with six dollars and early on realized his opportunities didn’t lie in the gold fields but instead would be drawn from his childhood farming experiences. Within a year he owned his own butcher shop, then got into breeding, feed crops, etc,, and by 1857 had cattle options on everything north of the Tehachapi Mountains. Henry had noticed the rains were inconsistent and that told him to do two things other ranchers weren’t doing, and that was to improve irrigation and change the stock breeds to cattle that were more drought resistant. Those decisions paid off handsomely. By 1900 he, along with partner Charles Lux, were the largest meat packers and cattle ranchers in the US. Ranch foremen, and superintendants from all over the state would assemble here at the headquarters where Henry would give then their next set of detailed orders.

Though many landmarks were passed by on this northbound trip to Oregon, these were the early days of searching them out and a little cherry picking and confidence building was in order. Now in coming back to the subject of Henry Miller in 2011, it would seem he’d make a good candidate for another song for the ‘Gold Country’ project, for people like Miller and Levi Strauss, etc., supplied the skyrocketing population.

Plaque inscription: NO. 548 CANAL FARM INN - This original San Joaquin Valley ranch headquarters of California pioneer and cattle baron Henry Miller (1827-1916) was established in 1873. His farsighted planning and development in the 1870s of a vast gravity irrigation system, and the founding of Los Banos in 1889, provided the basis for this area's present stability and wealth.
1460 E Pacheco Blvd
, Los Banos
Google maps: 37.056992,-120.832261

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