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The 2006 Visitors Guide

Ridgewood Ranch:
Home of Seabiscuit

Seabiscult's memory still lives at the Historic home of the legendary racehorse

u If you're planning a trip to Willits and part of your itinerary includes a walking tour of Ridgewood Ranch, home of Seabiscult, you're in for a treat. Not only are you going to step back In time and relive memories of a bygone era in American history, you are in for a visual delight as well.

Ridgewood Ranch is located just 7 miles south of Willits. The ranch was home to and the final resting place of one of the most famous icons of the 20'h century - Seabiscuit. The little bay horse was a symbol of hope to a nation slowly emerging from the Great Depression -a champion, a legend!

As you turn off Highway 101 and head west, the ranch stretches before you. The mighty oak trees with out- stretched branches bow, bidding you welcome, The hills cascade down to the fertile valley floor. White fal- low deer can be seen casually grazing on the hillsides. Not indigenous to the area, the deer are nonetheless very much at home here after being sent to Charles and Marcella Howard by William Randolf Hearst, who owned Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The ranch also is home to 134 different bird species, two creeks with steelhhead salmon, rare vernal pools, mountain lions, gray fox, black bear and an ancient Pomo Indian camp group.

Continuing your descent, the ranch buildings appear A huge red-roofed barn and out-buildings and beyond a magnificent two-acre stand of old-growth redwoods emerge from the valley floor. You have arrived.

Depending on your tour choice, you'll see some or all of the following historic structures: The cornerstone of every tour is the bright red stallion barn. The barn was completely refurbished in 2004 by the Willits Rotary Club. It was specially constructed for Seabuscuit by Charles Howard after his horse's triumphant 1940 homecoming.

The upper mare barn, where Seabiscuit recuperated after his debilitating injury in 1939 and where hand-penciled notes still visible on stall walls record Sea biscuit's mates and offspring is about a quarter-mile walk from the stallion barn.

The sprawling comfortable ranch house, built in 1905 by William Van Arsdale, is a short distance from Seabiscuit's barn. The Howard's kept a special guest room set aside for visits from crooner and race aficionado Bing Crosby. The spring-fed swimming pool, where many a party was held and children happily splashed and played, is still used today.

Seabiscuit and Red Pollard found this land can heal and restore body and spirit,' said Darryl Young, director of the State of California Department of Conservation, as he authorized more than $1 million in grant monies toward preservation of Ridgewood Ranch. 'We're here to make sure the land stays forever they way they found it.'

The money raised from the walking tours is used to help support charitable organizations and projects, as well as to promote the restoration and preservation of the ranch in cooperation with the Seabiscult Heritage Foundation.

To learn more about Ridgewood Ranch preservation efforts and how you can be a part of supporting these efforts, visit the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation at www.seabiscuitheritage.org.

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