In February 1935 Pancho Barnes traded her last remaining major asset, a bungalow apartment courtyard that she owned on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood for 80 acres of desert farmland. After many years of hard work (while a single mom!), she eventually enlarged the ranch to 360 acres, and transformed part of the desert farmland to become the world famous ‘Happy Bottom Riding Club.’ On the ranch, in addition to the Club, she created and ran several other businesses, including a dairy, a thoroughbred horse stud service, cattle and pig operations, 21-room hotel, and an airport with an aviation and automobile gas station. The overall ranch property was named “Rancho Oro Verde.”

The Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive contains a copy of a letter that Pancho wrote to her friend, actor Duncan Renaldo (later of motion picture and TV fame as ‘The Cisco Kid’) discussing her 1935 purchase and the original contents of the desert ranch.

In a letter dated January 22, 1935 Pancho writes, “Dear Duncan, I have been working hot and fast for more than a week trying to trade the apartment house in Los Angeles for a ranch in the Antelope Valley. It is just 100 miles from here (Pasadena, California), and I have made several trips to it, taking Roger Chute with me, as I believe he has a good head for such things. It is an 80-acre alfalfa ranch about 70 acres of which are in alfalfa. It has plenty of water. There are two wells. The lift is only 45 feet and the head only drops about 10 feet at any time. Alfalfa raised up in that section has a premium of $2.00 to $3.00 per ton over any other California alfalfa. One can count on 8 tons of alfalfa per acre per year, and should bring about $14.00 per ton and not less than $10.”

“The man who owns this ranch homesteaded about 12 years ago and has some fine big Cottonwood trees on it. He was also thoughtful enough to leave a couple of big desert Joshua trees still growing. The house is an ordinary 4-room box house, very comfortably laid out and comfortably though inartistically furnished with overstuffed furniture, etc. The furnishings go with the deal. There is also a 3-room tenant house, furnished and quite nice.”

“There is a small vineyard and grape arbor, sheep sheds and portable sheep fence, a large hay shed that will hold 240 tons of hay (now full of hay which does not go with the ranch) and there is a corrugated iron tool house and workshop with many tools; 2 hay rakes, 2 horse drawn mowers and one machine mower that you would go crazy over as it is a very ingenious affair, made by the farmer himself, with a Ford engine as power. You’ve never seen such a contraption, but you will love it!”

“There is a fine John Deere bailing machine and also a seeder in which he owns half interest, and of course an old Model T Ford truck, which, I understand, is on every farm of any standing.”

“An underground pump for gasoline storage is there, and several other things that I am probably forgetting to list. There are two big fine work horses, one heifer cow, and twelve chickens. (As you don’t like chickens these aren’t much of an asset). The whole ranch is in beautiful shape and looks like a showplace; Everything is white-washed, even the trunks of the Cottonwood trees and it is as neat as a pin.”

“The way I found the ranch was by reading advertisements (merely to amuse myself) in the Sunday paper and it sounded so very good I thought of trying to make a trade. They quoted the price in the paper at $156 per acre, which would bring the sum total to $12,500. I have approximately $35,000 equity in the Hollywood bungalow apartment property but I doubt if I can sell that property in the present market for more than $10,000. Awful, isn’t it? Besides, should I take it over there would be the necessity of operating the apartment property. It will mean that I will have to borrow about $4,000 additional on the ranch — $3,100 will be necessary to take possession of the apartment property, buying the deed at $250 and paying $1,200 for the furniture and clearing up three years of back taxes. However, Roger Chute and I have figured and figured on paper, and with much conversation, Roger feels that the ranch is too swell to let go. Besides that, I am crazy about it as it is very isolated and beautiful; being on the north side of the Antelope Valley looking toward the Coastal Range it has a far superior view to that at Palmdale. Furthermore, the terrain is such that I doubt that I will be bothered with any close neighbors, even in the future. I will try to draw you a map which I will enclose to give you some idea of the location and distance. It will be a swell and healthy place for us to take our sinus troubles and enjoy the big wide-open spaces. I HOPE THE DEAL GOES THROUGH!”