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A ranching retreat in Jamul

The headquarters for a once sprawling cattle and equine operation

Why install a pile of rocks? To build a bridge over them, of course!
Why install a pile of rocks? To build a bridge over them, of course!

San Diego County is a big place. With a population of nearly 3.3 million people, the head count here is higher than in 21 entire states. But again: it’s a big place, covering 4526 square miles. That’s more land than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Sure, we’ve got our city centers surrounded by densely-packed suburbs. And wealthy inland enclaves like Rancho Santa Fe might even give you a homesite with several acres of land upon which to spread out. But there’s still plenty of barren wilderness — back country where you won’t see a neighbor for days unless you’re looking for them. Let’s head out east, and explore a massive compound where you and perhaps a few dozen friends can hunker down and await the apocalypse undisturbed.

“Historic Rancho Jamul,” the Zillow listing for the 120-acre estate at 17426 Campo Road opens, was “established in the mid-19th century, the headquarters for a once sprawling cattle and equine operation spreading far east and north.” We’re promised “beautifully expansive, usable land encompassing a functionally versatile ranching retreat.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

The first photo on our tour shows a nicely-trimmed lawn and a whole bunch of palm trees in front of a house with quite a few garage bays. Let’s assume this is the “impressive 6000+/- sf rambling, main adobe ranch-house with outdoor pool and entertaining space.” It certainly doesn’t look like it was built in 1860 as reported in the listing (public records offer no help confirming or denying this build date), but it’s appealing, nonetheless. We’re also told there are two more “secondary residences” in addition to a “caretakers home, several barns and outbuildings, two water wells and acreage ideal for a variety of uses and activities.”

An aerial shot shows us a tropically-landscaped compound of buildings, and another shows us just how alone we’d be when living here – there’s nothing else in sight aside from the tree-lined drive to our gated entryway. A foliage canopy completely covers the path leading from a wrought-iron gate to what I assume is the main entrance. At least, it’s the entrance I would bring friends through on their first visit, just to impress them.

It’s easy to love your neighbor when he’s nowhere in sight.

We’ve got a proper entry foyer, then a big living room with the sort of rock-lined fireplace you’d expect to find in a mid-century home about 60 or so years old, which is when I’m guessing the current residence was built. The white carpet does not seem like it would lend itself to ranch living, however. Moving on, there’s a dining room that at first I thought was part of the kitchen, outfitted with a brick wall and a fireplace. Add the big wooden table with lazy Susan and you’ve definitely got a “ranch house” vibe going on. The real kitchen is through a passageway off to the side. While it’s had a recent remodel, it’s not as opulent as some of the kitchens we’re used to seeing in this column – but is that a pizza oven built into one wall below the microwave and wall oven? Yes, please. We then get another dining room that’s even bigger than the kitchen-adjacent one, another living area with brick walls, exposed-beam ceilings, and (by my count) the third fireplace we’ve seen so far, plus a bar/pub with a more modern feel than much of the house.

The bedrooms are fine, really. The main suite has an extensive hallway wardrobe leading to a large bath with a soaking tub and a couple of nooks that we’re going to assume are hiding a shower and toilet. The rest of the interior photos are of rooms that look like they could be in my house, except much larger.

Now we’re getting back outside to the pool area, and I am returning to being impressed. A little non-functional bridge over a pile of rocks that appear to have been placed there solely for the purpose of building a bridge over them leads us to the massive black-bottomed pool and a covered patio that houses another fireplace, a bar, a TV, and an outdoor kitchen. I can’t tell if the other building here is a pool house or one of the secondary residences, but whatever it is, this would make an excellent gathering space and, with no discernible neighbors aside from the ones co-occupying your compound, there’s no risk of a noise disturbance.

We’re next presented with a handful of photos of some of the other houses, which look simultaneously more modern and less opulent than the main residence. One of them features another pleasant loggia with what’s now the fifth fireplace we’ve seen, but it’s unclear how many bedrooms and baths each contains. Will you need ten friends to help you occupy this property? Thirty? All we know is that it’s a large number.

The last pictures are of a pair of barns; these are the only structures I believe could actually be more than 100 years old. Maybe you could house some horses there — or maybe you’re scared they could fall down at any moment. I’m not sure which is the correct call here. There are also some more aerial shots of empty fields just waiting to be plowed and planted, or torn up to build a monster truck course, or to have done to them whatever a very wealthy person with a large plot of land wishes to do. We’re told the ranch is “surrounded by an Ecological Preserve & Wildlife Aera totaling thousands of acres assuring continued privacy and endless recreational opportunities,” so let’s assume the possibilities are pretty wide open.

Public records list a Lawrence Daley as owner of the ranch. Daley died in 2002, but not before he and his wife Barbara dedicated another 597 acres of their land to create the Lawrence and Barbara Daley Preserve near the property. Rancho Jamul was listed for sale in early December, the first time it’s recorded to have been offered to the public. The list price, which seeks offers between $5,999,000 and $6,299,000, remains unchanged to date.

  • 14720 Campo Road | Jamul, 91935
  • current owner: Lawrence Daley Trust | listing price: $6,299,000 | beds: 4+ | baths: 6+ | house size: 6000
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Why install a pile of rocks? To build a bridge over them, of course!
Why install a pile of rocks? To build a bridge over them, of course!

San Diego County is a big place. With a population of nearly 3.3 million people, the head count here is higher than in 21 entire states. But again: it’s a big place, covering 4526 square miles. That’s more land than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Sure, we’ve got our city centers surrounded by densely-packed suburbs. And wealthy inland enclaves like Rancho Santa Fe might even give you a homesite with several acres of land upon which to spread out. But there’s still plenty of barren wilderness — back country where you won’t see a neighbor for days unless you’re looking for them. Let’s head out east, and explore a massive compound where you and perhaps a few dozen friends can hunker down and await the apocalypse undisturbed.

“Historic Rancho Jamul,” the Zillow listing for the 120-acre estate at 17426 Campo Road opens, was “established in the mid-19th century, the headquarters for a once sprawling cattle and equine operation spreading far east and north.” We’re promised “beautifully expansive, usable land encompassing a functionally versatile ranching retreat.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

The first photo on our tour shows a nicely-trimmed lawn and a whole bunch of palm trees in front of a house with quite a few garage bays. Let’s assume this is the “impressive 6000+/- sf rambling, main adobe ranch-house with outdoor pool and entertaining space.” It certainly doesn’t look like it was built in 1860 as reported in the listing (public records offer no help confirming or denying this build date), but it’s appealing, nonetheless. We’re also told there are two more “secondary residences” in addition to a “caretakers home, several barns and outbuildings, two water wells and acreage ideal for a variety of uses and activities.”

An aerial shot shows us a tropically-landscaped compound of buildings, and another shows us just how alone we’d be when living here – there’s nothing else in sight aside from the tree-lined drive to our gated entryway. A foliage canopy completely covers the path leading from a wrought-iron gate to what I assume is the main entrance. At least, it’s the entrance I would bring friends through on their first visit, just to impress them.

It’s easy to love your neighbor when he’s nowhere in sight.

We’ve got a proper entry foyer, then a big living room with the sort of rock-lined fireplace you’d expect to find in a mid-century home about 60 or so years old, which is when I’m guessing the current residence was built. The white carpet does not seem like it would lend itself to ranch living, however. Moving on, there’s a dining room that at first I thought was part of the kitchen, outfitted with a brick wall and a fireplace. Add the big wooden table with lazy Susan and you’ve definitely got a “ranch house” vibe going on. The real kitchen is through a passageway off to the side. While it’s had a recent remodel, it’s not as opulent as some of the kitchens we’re used to seeing in this column – but is that a pizza oven built into one wall below the microwave and wall oven? Yes, please. We then get another dining room that’s even bigger than the kitchen-adjacent one, another living area with brick walls, exposed-beam ceilings, and (by my count) the third fireplace we’ve seen so far, plus a bar/pub with a more modern feel than much of the house.

The bedrooms are fine, really. The main suite has an extensive hallway wardrobe leading to a large bath with a soaking tub and a couple of nooks that we’re going to assume are hiding a shower and toilet. The rest of the interior photos are of rooms that look like they could be in my house, except much larger.

Now we’re getting back outside to the pool area, and I am returning to being impressed. A little non-functional bridge over a pile of rocks that appear to have been placed there solely for the purpose of building a bridge over them leads us to the massive black-bottomed pool and a covered patio that houses another fireplace, a bar, a TV, and an outdoor kitchen. I can’t tell if the other building here is a pool house or one of the secondary residences, but whatever it is, this would make an excellent gathering space and, with no discernible neighbors aside from the ones co-occupying your compound, there’s no risk of a noise disturbance.

We’re next presented with a handful of photos of some of the other houses, which look simultaneously more modern and less opulent than the main residence. One of them features another pleasant loggia with what’s now the fifth fireplace we’ve seen, but it’s unclear how many bedrooms and baths each contains. Will you need ten friends to help you occupy this property? Thirty? All we know is that it’s a large number.

The last pictures are of a pair of barns; these are the only structures I believe could actually be more than 100 years old. Maybe you could house some horses there — or maybe you’re scared they could fall down at any moment. I’m not sure which is the correct call here. There are also some more aerial shots of empty fields just waiting to be plowed and planted, or torn up to build a monster truck course, or to have done to them whatever a very wealthy person with a large plot of land wishes to do. We’re told the ranch is “surrounded by an Ecological Preserve & Wildlife Aera totaling thousands of acres assuring continued privacy and endless recreational opportunities,” so let’s assume the possibilities are pretty wide open.

Public records list a Lawrence Daley as owner of the ranch. Daley died in 2002, but not before he and his wife Barbara dedicated another 597 acres of their land to create the Lawrence and Barbara Daley Preserve near the property. Rancho Jamul was listed for sale in early December, the first time it’s recorded to have been offered to the public. The list price, which seeks offers between $5,999,000 and $6,299,000, remains unchanged to date.

  • 14720 Campo Road | Jamul, 91935
  • current owner: Lawrence Daley Trust | listing price: $6,299,000 | beds: 4+ | baths: 6+ | house size: 6000
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