SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - As the wispy spring clouds roll by this sprawling Warner Springs Ranch, it's hard to imagine that you are in the former epicenter of early California life.
"This is one of the most exciting places on the whole trail for the pioneers, their first glimpse of what they thought was the promised land," Bruce Coons of SOHO San Diego said.
The Warner-Carrillo ranch house, stage stop and trading post was built in 1857.
"It was built by Vincenta Carrillo, a very prominent Hispanic woman who ran this 40,000-acre ranch," Koons said. "This is one of the very few Butterfield stage stops in the nation that still exists."
For members of the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO), the Warner-Carrillo house is a priceless link to our past.
"It's one of the most important unprotected historic sights in San Diego County," Coons said.
That's why 15 years ago, SOHO San Diego and the Vista Irrigation District began raising funds for its restoration.
"It was abandoned in ruins. A lot of the walls had collapsed and we almost lost it," Coons said.
This fall, the ranch house, trading post and stage stop will be reopened to the public, offering us a rare chance to relive a slice of early California history.
"This is still the same as it was, when the pioneers originally came here," Coons said.
It's a chance to see how our ancestors have left their mark on this monument.
"In its later years, it was a bunkhouse for the ranch, and then the ranchers were trying out their brands right here on the floor," Coons said.
For so many who came out west, here is where the California dream was realized.
"The emigrant trail went right in front of it, the way to California. The Southern Emigrant Trail was the only all-weather trail to California," Coons said. "Eventually we want to have stage coach riders through the original trail that's still here."
The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House will offer us an opportunity to reconnect with some early California dreamers.