Originally known as Nuevo, the current town of Ramona was founded in 1886 by Milton Santee who created the Santa Maria Land & Water Company and, as a part of that effort, acquired the 3,200 acres that would become the town site. Two years later, Theophole Verlaque, a French immigrant winemaker, arrived in the valley and decided to settle. He built the first residence in Nuevo and his home, located on Main Street, serves as Ramona’s historical museum.
The Verlaque residence is not the only moment of history to be found on Main Street. A walk or drive down this eucalyptus-lined boulevard allows you to experience several moments of the past. There is the Santa Maria Masonic Lodge, built in 1926, with its Masonic emblems still clearly visible. On the opposite side of the street, the Ramona Town Hall commands immediate attention. Donated to the town in 1894 by one of the area’s early founders, William Augustus Barnett, the 115 year old town hall is one of the oldest and last original town halls in California and one of the largest and oldest adobe structures in the entire Southwest. This historic building has served its community well…it was the town’s first library, first movie theatre, first high school, first bank, first dance hall and first justice court.
Main Street’s Guy B. Woodard Museum, (housed in the Verlaque residence), offers visitors a glimpse of Ramona’s colorful past. Memories of miners, cowboys, vaqueros, Kit Carson, confederate soldiers, Diegueno Indians and much, much more have been preserved by the Ramona Pioneer Historical Society for your viewing pleasure!
In spite of all the history, Ramona is not living in the past. Rather, Ramona mixes its history with its present to make for a great place to visit and live. Rodeos, horseback riding, farming, country fairs, Oktoberfests, Farmer’s Markets, wine tastings, hiking, antiquing, quilt shows, dog shows, barn dances, golf tournaments, concerts, Fourth of July celebrations, art shows, air shows and just soaking up the rural vistas are all a part of today’s Ramona.
The community of Ramona offers an unbelievable number of things to do and see. From annual events to spur-of-the-moment adventures, you can easily fill a weekend with fun and excitement. Here are some of the activities a trip to Ramona can offer:
RAMONA RODEO Every May Ramona’s locals don their hats, their boots and their spurs and head to the Fred Grand Arena for the annual Ramona Rodeo. While there are lots of “just-for-fun” activities throughout the rodeo weekend (like lawnmower races and kid’s roping contests) the Ramona Rodeo is the real deal with barrel-racing, bull riding, roping and steer wrestling events that draw a serious cowboy/ cowgirl crowd. For information visit www.ramonarodeo.com.
RAMONA FAIR August is the month for the Ramona Country Fair. The Ramona Country Fair has been offering the residents of and visitors to Ramona a full weekend of fun for forty years. Truly a community event, the fair is organized by the Ramona Chamber of Commerce and features crafts, carnival rides, great food and great entertainment. For more information call the Chamber at 760-789-1311, the Fair event line at 760-789-1484 or visit their website at www.ramonafair.com.
HIKING AND WALKING TRAILS Cedar Creek Falls, Devil’s Punch Bowl: 3 miles of trail leads to a valley at the base of a 100 foot waterfall. Off of Thornbush Road in the San Diego Country Estates. Dos Picos County Park: Approximately ½ mile of nature trails off of Dos Picos Park Road. Mount Woodson East: 4 mile round trip trail offering panoramic views of the Cuyamaca Mountains. Located southwest of Ramona off of Highway 67 just a few yards from the forest fire station sign. Mount Gower Open Space Preserve: 5 miles of trails with several leading to viewpoints overlooking Swartz Canyon and San Vicente Valley. Located at the end of Gunn Stage Road in the San Diego Country Estates. Ramona Community Park: 5 miles of trails off of Aqua Lane.
HORSE TRAILS Mount Gower Open Space Preserve: 5 miles of trails with several leading to viewpoints overlooking Swartz Canyon and San Vicente Valley. Located at the end of Gunn Stage Road in the San Diego Country Estates. Ramona Community Park: 5 miles of trails off of Aqua Lane. Rutherford Trail: 2 ½ miles of trails with seasonal streams and rough terrain located at the end of Gunn Stage Road.