Sunday, August 5, 2007

World Famous Tagus Ranch

The Tagus Ranch is located 4 miles North of Tulare on Highway 99 in the heart of California's great Central Valley. This dusty locale once featured banquet rooms, a coffee shop, cocktail lounge, gift shop and a deluxe motor hotel. Later on in life it was the home of a live music theater where country and western acts would put on a show for the locals. But that was another time and place...


Today, the Tagus lies abandoned, a state it's been in for over 15 years. For sale banners have come and gone and the gradual deterioration has escalated in recent years. The adjacent motel is hanging on by a thread...a home to long term occupants and those with little means.

32 comments:

Victor Stapf said...

There are a lot of great old signs and buildings on the 99, but it seems like every time I drive up that way, something's been torn down.

walterworld said...

Exactly why I always take a bunch of pics whenever I 'go South' to Disneyland.

Thanks Victor---

Kira Walter said...

Hellos Pops! Like the page! Very Then and now! I feel special knowing I was there when you took some of the pics. :D

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tagus ranch was another Sunday lunch favorite.

I saw this recently passing by. It makes me sad.

I remember when the Valley was a lively place and no one was ashamed of saying "I'm from Fresno.."

Now it's all dried up and gone...

Thanks. Like the other poster said, you make me happy and sad with the same post.

walterworld said...

Hello There Anonymous!

Thanks for passing by and leaving a comment...

Wouldn't it be great if someone could buy the old Tagus Ranch and restore it to its former function?

Take care!

Anonymous said...

I see it is for sale again. What's the price? Who's the owner?

Menace said...

Hello there Walter,
I may have not been alive to this this place in it's glory days but I did go see this place recently. I was filming a short film for my video class and we all decided to go to Tagus Ranch. We heard it was haunted(because we heard at least one girl was murdered there) so we were all frightened. Well we all went inside that place and it was really dark even in the daytime, we came upon the room with the pentogram(star) with strange symblos and an eye in the middle and we all freaked. Our video turned out crappy so we have to reshoot but this time at night!

walterworld said...

Hello Menace---

Wow---Scary story! What was it like inside? Generally thrashed I'm guessing? Any tables/chairs or fixtures remaining from the old days? All graffitti'd?

I really enjoy exploring a modern ruin...Especially one that I've watched deterorate over the years.

I'd really be interested to see the video if it comes out next time.

Thanks for stopping by---

walterworld said...

Hello Anonymous---

Can't say what the price is or who the current owner is either... I only wish I had plenty of money to burn because I'd fix the place up and run it even if no-one ever visited (but I'll bet quite a few would!)

Take care---

Stacy Hargrove said...

Walter,
I was just there a few months ago! it looks the same as in your photos! My Uncle was born and grew up there so he took us on a tour of where Tagus Ranch used to be!We even went inside the old building.Some old chairs and stained glass windows and even the old Tagus Ranch symbol was there! We did see one house still standing that he grew up in! I am researching the Tagus ranch for my family tree and there is a reunion every year in Tulare for those who lived on Tagus Ranch! Thanks for putting photos up!

walterworld said...

How cool Stacy!!!

I would love to go inside that building and check out what remains! Glad you are getting a chance to connect to your family's Tagus Ranch history.

Please keep us informed as you find out more. And if you have any follow up pictures (especially interior shots) I'd be more than happy to do a follow up post...

Thanks SO MUCH for posting your comment.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Driving by this weekend it looks like its for Sale through Century 21. I like sooo many wish someone would buy it and restore it. Most likely it will be torn down to put a some useless soon to go out of business there. :(

rosie said...

HELLO TO ANYONE OUT THERE ... WELL HERE´S MY STORY I WAS BORN THERE IN TAGUS RANCH 11-4 ,44 YEARS AGO AND BACK THEN TO ME IT WAS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE ON EARTH WITH MY FAMILY ... BUT NOW IT SCARES ME TO EVEN THINK OF HOW THIS PLACE IS NOW I LIVE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY NOW BUT I DID GO BACK ABOUT 12 YEARS AGO EVEN TO VISIT MY OAK VALLEY UNION SCHOOL THAT BY THE WAY DIDN´T SEEM SUCH A BIG SCHOOL ANYMORE.....

rosie said...

i might seem very "dummy" or innocent... but today i actually called my dad to ask him about what i had JUST found out last night..about Tagus Ranch ! ! ! i had no idea it had been a concentration camp ! ! and of course he said Yes he knew he heard a lot of stories but he considered he shouldn¨t tell ths story to his children not even as a story of the history or the the place i mean we were born THERE ! ! i was really SHOCKED i could¨´t believe it....

George Higgins said...

Thanks for the great pictures - I spent many a wonderful Saturday morning having breakfast there with my dad on the way to Strathmore-Lindsay area to visit his aunt who raised him. I can still taste the corn-beef hash and crunchy hash browns.

Kegrove said...

Thank you for posting this. My father tells me that his grandmother was a cook at the Tagus Ranch during the 40's or 50's. I'm trying to trace her movements for my family tree and this has been helpful!

tommdez@18 said...

My dad T.Melendez was a foreman, his super was a guy named Earl who had a house at the ranch. Dad had to learn a bit of German. He supervised some of the 250 pows that were there. Dad used to bring some rabbits during the "rabbit roundups", the only meat we would have sometimes. Great page, hope to hear from others who can post some photos.

Anonymous said...

I remember taking a trip back North from Riverside and heading up 99. I was 13 and my Dad and friends decided we'd stop for dinner at Tagus Ranch. It actually had a very nice dining room at that time and I remember the steaks were terrific! I went looking for it many years later and saw what had happened, the victim of franchises moving in. Seeing this all too often.

Anonymous said...

I worked there in the early 70's. It was they had Basque food.i was a cocktail waitresses & learned to bartend there. In the bar there was a large picture or mosaic of horses. I loved working thhere.

Robert Brookey said...

Stopped by the Ranch tonight. I live in Fresno and work in Porterville as a teacher. I very much enjoyed reading everyone's posts. Unfortunately the old place is in the stages of structural damage. Part of the roof have collapsed and in sections you can look up and see the sky. I personally would love to see the place brought back to life but don't have a clue how or where to start. If anybody has information, I would be very interested.

mary j said...

How interesting to see somany ppl interested in this place. My mom and dad recently.passed and I just found out they both lived there and that's where they met
I went to oak valley school and half my bus got off there. I do remember them having a band out there. Can't remember his first name or the band name but the singers last name was mosher. My.parents were in their 70's would love to talk to others that lived out there

Anonymous said...

My dad owned it in the late 80s when it was the happenin place to go .

Anonymous said...

H.C. MERRITT FOUNDED AND OWNED THE tagus ranch for decades.
TAGUS was the 1st ranch in CALIF. to grow cotton, and the largest canned fruit [peaches] ranch in the world for about 1o years.
We know nothing about the POW camp.
The ranch was once 14,ooo acres.
it was sold in the late 1950 s and foreign folks owned parts of it, recently.
The restaurant was once a big draw. NO more, of course.
THE MERRITT home was called the OAKS, and was a Tara style southern mansion. A huge pool in the front yard. IT took one man all day to mow the front grass.
the OAKS was bulldozed for some
track homes about in the 1970 s.
the MERRITT FAMILY RANCH OFFICES
were looted by the high priced managers. The other staff was very honest, hard working and loyal.

motopoet59 said...

I work in the area often (railroad) and just the other day stopped to take some pix to add to my "abandoned buildings" and "signs" collection in Instagram. When I worked in Tulare in 1980 we used to stop there for coffee once in awhile. By the time I returned to the area in the mid nineties it was at the end of its life as a music venue.
I got into a discussion with my Mom about the place and she seems to think they used to have a covered rodeo ground. Does anyone remember that?

Anonymous said...

In the mid '80's I loaded produce for shipment back to St.Louis and Peoria, Il. Tagus Ranch wasn't on road atlas maps, so the dispatcher had to instruct me to the place. Deterioration must have set in already at that time because there wasn't much to suggest activity there.

Anonymous said...

I was about 10 when I would go in there during the 80's and was in awe over the place. I never ate there, I would go in there to sell candy, and was always asked to leave cause solitation was not allowed.:) but I always tjought I'd go back as an adult to eat and watch the bands, but its sad that I never got to do that.

Sandra McCoy said...

WE, my husband and I, drove by there tonight and I was thinking of something my Father,Lloyd Donaldson told me as young girl. He had friends in Tulare and would go to the bar there at Tagus Ranch in the 1950's, he said he saw Merle Maggard play there, and others from Bakersfield.

SenTaMentalSoul@gmail.com said...

I fondly remember growing up less than 300 feet from the Tagus Ranch Theater. I spent nearly 20 years there and saw it go from a magical World Famous place to a neglected shadow of its former self.
I saw so many artists come through in their traveling buses such as the Platters, Ricky Nelson, and so many more others as well as the tourists and travelers that heard about Tagus Ranch. I was able to go into the bar and restaurant as early as 10 years old and even played at the sit down arcade game of Pac Man and Donkey Kong in the bar until I ran out of quarters during that time because the owners knew my father and family for years. I saw it go from a lively restaurant and bar to Country Western Theater, to live Bull Riding, to a Spanish nightclub, to a regular Night Club and everything in between.
Yes people were killed there and yes there was a camp set up for Japanese during the war, but I never saw or even thought about ghosts or hauntings there because it was so full of life and excitement. I remember paintings or murals on the wall and just loved being around the theater and the cast characters that stayed nearby or were regulars there.
The groves of walnut trees and large sweet plumb trees make me wish I could go there with my daughter to a more simple life on the ranch. Tagus Ranch will always have a place in my heart and I wish someone could indeed restore it to its past glory, but I know that all things have a beginning and an end and I am lucky to have been there during the good times. I did unfortunately see the starting of the process of it going downhill due to bad ownership that were money hungry and never put money back into the business let alone keep up even a minimum standard of its formal glory. The restaurant shut down, then the gas station shut down, and the only things left was the bar and motel. Now only the motel is still in business but I had a chance to stop by there several years ago on a trip back to California and even though the building and entire area is a dead and abandoned I still can hear the music, hear the people having a good time, and see the paintings and old faces that I have not thought about for years.
If anyone would like to share memories or ask any questions about Tagus Ranch I would be happy to share at SenTaMentalSoul@gmail.com
Cheers to all the people or know people who have fond memories of Tagus Ranch.

Ms Katie said...

Just as senTaMentalSoul says , Tagus Ranch as a memory for many and it's sad no organization can get it claimed Historical.
I was just by there November 1st.

Quiltingranny said...

I was recently told they had a nice motel in the area, clean, reasonable and family sized. Anyone know about this?

Anonymous said...

I Had no idea of all the history of Tagus Ranch ....For me it was a place of great sadness .My brother Derek Thompson was murdered there when he was a 18 year old teenager on March 17 in 1981..My memories of my parents avoiding having to pass by it on there way from Visalia to Tulare to see my grandparent that lived in Tulare.Im glad to finally after all these years be able to hear some good things about the place .Im no longer living in Ca. And avoiding driving by it any longer.My grandmother however still lives in Tulare at 98 and next time i find myself back home I will Drive by Tagus Ranch and focus on the good memories so many shared on here and not the loss of my brother there.Thank you for sharing snd all the amazing information and giving me a new look at an old memory

Zac Van Horn said...

Hey....I live in tulare ca and I pass by the tagus ranch a lot.....I've never been inside or even up close to it but a lot of people in tulare say that there is a lot of satanic worshiping that goes on in there......but I really wish someone would buy it and restore it to give people something to do here.....