Highland Springs Resort and the Lavender Festival

GREAT place to take the kids! Photo by Dezert.US

Highland Springs Resort, has a great and spirited history, and reaches way back to some of the earliest known history of San Gorgonio Pass. It began in 1845 when Powell Weaver (sometimes known as Paulino), Wallace Woodruff and Dr. Issac William Smith petitioned Governor Pio Pico for the San Gorgonio Rancho. But due to either lost paperwork, or that they did not appear in court with proper proof, the grant was never finalized. This however did not stop Weaver, as he began to sell parcels of “his land” beginning in October of 1853, and the first person to buy was Dr Isaac Smith, purchasing some 1000 acres. A few months later Dr Smith established his ranch by planting grain and orchards, and he also had a fairly large size herd of cattle.

As time would go on the area became known as Highland Springs Ranch and Inn, it also became an important stop on the Bradshaw Arizona Stage Line. Smith’s ranch stage stop was known for exceptional meals and especially the pigeon pie, why even Wyatt Earp traveled these very roads. These roads were not always a safe way to travel, in fact on October 29th 1862, the stage was robbed, two men were murdered, and it was all nearly pinned on an innocent man (for more on this story click here). But the ranch kept growing, and by 1884 Dr. Smith sold his property to a company from Los Angeles. Soon a new three story hotel was built and the first cherry tress were planted, these trees would later help the area to name their new town Cherry Valley.

Old wagon rides, a fun way to relive the past. Photo by Dezert.US

By 1927 the ranch again changed hands when William and Fred Hirsch and the name officially became the Highland Springs Resort. Fred and his wife Lucille were taken in by Professor Arnold Ehret’s approach to healthy lifestyle decades before it became popular. Ehret’s believed that coffee, alcohol and tobacco, were poisons to the body.  When the Hirsch’s bought the ranch they began to focus on healthy living, and this tradition continues today with the 123 Farm.

The farm is dedicated to upholding the highest standards for healthy environment:

We at 123 Farm start from the guiding principle that the health of the consumer is our #1 priority. If the seeds are not certified organic, we won’t plant them. If our fruit tree requires a toxic pesticide to save them from blight, we’d rather take the loss than compromise our standards. 

The “Last Resort” as it was sometimes called, due to people with health issues staying to see if the new lifestyle would help,  began to attract some of the world best known celebrities, beginning with Albert Einstein. In 1948 the Rosin Brothers purchased the ranch and developed it in to what became known as the “Catskills of the West”, with music, dancing swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and other forms of entertainment and outdoor activities. Danny Thomas, Elizabeth Taylor, Roy Rogers, Bob Hope, Ernest Hemingway and wrestler “Gorgeous George” were know to have stayed at the resort.

Acres and acres of lavender. Photo by Dezert.US

Even though the original hotel burned down in 1970, the ranch has done a magnificent job keeping the tradition of the historic side of the ranch alive. Some of the early building are still on the ranch and the owners are keeping the charm and character of the past with antiques in the rooms and many photographs of the ranch through the years. On the other side, the 123 Farm keeps to the Hirsch philosophy of an non pesticide, all natural organic farm.

When you visit, be sure to see the 1100 year old Grand Oak and the makeshift jail, which will be right under your feet. Also don’t forget to try everything lavender to include, ice cream, lemonade, tea, mojitos, martinis, beer, cheesecake, pastries, bouquets, lotions and soaps. This will be the 12th time the Lavender Festival has been held and I am absolutely sure there will be many, many more…

 

The 1000 year old tree, just think of the stories this tree could tell. Photo by Dezert.US

For more information about the festival: http://hsresort.com/thelavenderfestival/

For more information about the resort: http://www.hsresort.com/

For more information about 123 Farm: https://www.123farm.com/

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