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B-bar-H Guest Ranch

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The Arch in Later Years

On April 7, 1927, Lucienne Hubbard, a mogul in the film business, and Charles Bender, Hubbard’s son-in-law, purchased land from the Southern Pacific Land Company which was the beginning of the B-bar-H Guest Ranch. The size of this soon-to-be popular playground for the celebrities was 240 acres. Charlotte Stocks, Lee Anderson’s daughter, remembers bringing date shoots to the B-bar-H from her family’s date farm. Citrus and other products were marketed under the B-bar-H brand. Cattle and poultry were also raised at the Ranch.

Lucienne Hubbard was a professional writer, war correspondent and contributor to The Reader’s Digest. He spread the knowledge of Desert Hot Springs with its marvelous hot medicinal water far and wide. It was very exclusive, and was only by invitation that one could visit the B-bar-H Ranch. Eventually the temporary structures were replaced with permanent and more modern and deluxe accommodations. The present-day location would be from 18th to 20th Streets and from Bubbling Wells Road to Mountain View in Desert Hot Springs.

In 1937 the B-bar-H Guest Ranch was opened to the public. In the April, 1939, issue of “Desert Magazine,” an ad for the ranch carries a Garnet, California address with a notation that it is in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. Joe Gottchalk was the desk clerk, bellhop, did the marketing with their station wagon, took money to the bank and ran errands as a teenager in l939-l940. He picked up guests at the train station in Garnet, rode a horse to deliver a telegram to Janet Gaynor at the Singing Trees Ranch near the B-bar-H on 20th street, and took guests gambling at the private membership Dunes Club in Cathedral City (today we would know that location as Date Palm Drive near Highway 111). There were also card games and slot machines at the Ranch.

Over the years, authors such as Les Starks, Cabot Yerxa and John Hunt have written about the B-bar-H and listed the many celebrities who frequented it and Cabot Yerxa’s Trading Post. Cabot tells of their interest in his pet rattlesnakes, lizards, and the items he sold at the Trading Post. Many visitors rode horses to h is place to just sit and visit. Jack Krindler, who originated the Twenty-One Club in New York City, was one of his visitors as well as Sol Lessor, producer of the Tarzan pictures.

Because Lucienne Hubbard was an outdoorsman, an expert rider and horseman, the atmosphere of the ranch was entirely Western in character. The ladies had many attractive Western outfits. In the dining room some folks were dressed like real cowhands; at the next table might be people just in from the city all decked out in swank evening clothes; however, if they stayed at the ranch for any length of time, they changed to Western-style clothes. Cabot writes that no matter how many millions they had or how much space in the newspapers was devoted to their names, they all had fun. Louis Sobol wrote of being initiated into the Order of Pamperers. The code of the Pamperer is never to do today what can be done tomorrow. There was laziness in the air. Charlie Bender was the host and manager of the B-bar-H Ranch, his wife helped organize picnics, campfires and riding parties nearly every day. They visited Seven Palms, Willow Hole, various mountain canyons along with trips to Two Bunch Palms, a beautiful oasis close at hand. Two Bunch Palms was once owned by the B-bar-H Ranch in the late l940’s. They traveled to Cabot’s place on Miracle Hill. Many of the guests at B-bar-H were from the nearby Circle B Ranch owned by Warner Baxter.

As time went on, a swimming pool, tennis court and rodeo arena were added to the property with stretches of grass and gorgeous beds of flowers which delighted the guests. Rodeo competitions were held in the arena, and on Saturday nights there was Western dancing at the recreation hall with live bands from Palm Springs. The accommodations and comforts of this guest ranch became famous and guests came from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Hollywood. Often large groups from all walks of life came to stay a weekend, a month, or the season. Bankers, financiers, men prominent in political life and big businessmen rubbed elbows with movie stars, those from the legitimate stage, famous writers and well-known musicians.

In l940, Jay Kasler (grandfather of Richard N. Roger MD of Rancho Mirage) paid $42,000 for the 240-acre B-bar-H Ranch. Mr. Kasler owned the Free Sewing Machine Company (second only to the Singer Company) which was sold to a Japanese company in l960. Mr. Kasler also founded City National Bank. Dr. Roger’s family spent almost every weekend and holidays at the ranch. They came from Los Angeles via old Highway 99, now Varner Road. The cash register from the B-bar-H bar is now located at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. Dr Roger related that in l949 he took some 78 RPM records from Cabot’s Eagle’s Nest and returned them to Cole Eyraud (past resident/protector of Cabot’s Museum) in l974.

The present-day Covington Park in Morongo Valley was once a part of the B-bar-H holdings. The horses were moved up there for the summer. The 640 acres were purchased in l946 for $10 an acre. In l950 Mr. Kasler closed the Ranch to the public and maintained it for family use. In l959 he donated Covington Park to The Nature Conservancy.

In 1973 the administration, pro shop, caretakers area and stables, and approximately 5 1/2 acres was purchased by Leonore Emerson High (Jackson). The property was purchased to set up a communications institute. In subsequent years an additional 19 1/2 acres was acquired. This section was known as the golf course. The communications institute never materialized due to litigation that lasted over 20 years. The property was sold around the first part of 2000.

 
The beautiful old lodge on the Ranch boasts an impressive fireplace and great room for public, office or family use. There are several bedroom units accessible from the patio area, as well as a professional kitchen, dining room with beamed ceiling, bar room, and wine cellar. A VFW Club has used the former recreation hall for meetings; the swimming pool has been filled in.

In 2006, a new private owner acquired the lodge, and various homes have been built on the land, thus creating a new usage and future for those passing under the historic B-bar-H Ranch arch.
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SOURCE: Unknown. Edited by Richard N. Roger, M.D., April, 2007, Word processed by Alta Hester, Secretary, Desert Hot Springs Historical Society.  Further clarifications by Scott Jackson of the Leonore High family (2011).
 

CELEBRITIES WHO VISITED THE B-bar-H GUEST RANCH 

Mary Pickford             Warner Baxter           Ginny Sims

Janet Gaynor             Monty Montana          Mervyn LeRoy

Adolphe Menjou*      Joseph Selznick          Bing Crosby

Sal Mineo                  Bernard Baruch          Ronald Coleman                  

Bonita Hume              Phil Harris                Alice Faye Harris

Louis Sobol                Si Seadler                Max Schuster

Sol Lessor                  Jack Krinder             Lionel Barrymore

John Raskob               Joan Crawford          The Marx Brothers     

Sidney Kingsley           Tyrone Power          Darryl Zanuck

Jennifer Jones             Walt Disney            Marlene Dietrich

Endy Barrie                 Robert Taylor          Eleanor Powell

Beatrice Kaufman         Olivia De Havilan    Rita Hayworth

Bob Hope                    Jerry Colona           Ray Milland

Dore Shary**               Peter Lorre             Frank Bogert

Lew Ayres                   John Barrymore       Preston Foster

Joan Fontaine              Norma Shearer        Lucienne Hubbard

Charlie Bender      * “Polyanna” and “Farewell to Arms”     ** Producer MGM, 250 movies