Lummis rode past sturdy, whitewashed adobe houses with thatched roofs. When he reached the center of the village, anxious eyes approached. The Cupeños were desperate for news. But Lummis delayed. He’d make an announcement, he said, in the schoolhouse after lunch.
It has no stores or bars or motels. The only gas station in town has been closed for three years. The nearest coffee shop is fifteen miles away. There is a hot spring in Warner Springs, and once there was a thriving resort around it that attracted the families of the powerful and the rich from all over Southern California. The hot spring is still there, but the resort has closed down.
Duguay did not know Cecil Knutson and neither had ties to the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation near Warner Springs in San Diego County. But each Orange County man ended up at the reservation and took a compact car on the same rocky, mountain trail that led to their misfortune, leaving investigators baffled. The trail begins at the end of a paved road and leads to a site so remote it is not patrolled by tribal police officers.
Bankruptcy Court Judge Louise Adler has awarded ailing Warner Springs Ranch to the low bidder, denying it to the Pala Indians, but an unusual twist suggests to some skeptics that the tribe will eventually get the rundown 2500-acre resort with hot springs, tennis courts, casitas, horse stables and golf course.
They have a thriving casino and lease property to a company that operates a motocross raceway on tribal land. Profits from the casino permitted them to agree to pay $20.5 million last year for Warner Springs Ranch, near the backcountry crossroads of Warner Springs. The membership-owned resort has 240 cottages, a golf course, three pools, tennis courts, horseback-riding facilities, exercise rooms.
Beginning on November 21, 1851, the Indians burned Warner’s buildings; stole his cattle, horses, and sheep; and killed nine Americans. The revolt was soon put down, Cupa was burned, and the leaders of the insurrection were executed. After this hostile incident, Warner left his ranch to the supervision of his servants.
“I don’t like going up there. It’s so acrimonious,” says one of the San Diego owners, Greg S. Maizlish. “Owner, schmowner,” he says, stressing that he is only expressing his own opinion. “The owner designation means nothing because the ranch is controlled by a small group” that he calls “the Los Tules crowd,” residing in a development of that name adjacent to the ranch.
Begin at the Agua Caliente Creek bridge at mile 36.6 on Highway 79, 1.3 miles west of Warner Springs. There's a turnout for parking just west and a dirt road slanting over to where the PCT crosses under the highway. Proceed upstream along the cottonwood-shaded creek, first on the left (north) bank, then on the right. In this first mile, the trail goes through Warner Ranch resort property on an easement.
On November 27, every single male headed east to avenge the Warner Ranch murders. Led by Major G.B. Fitzgerald, they acquired muskets from the Army. At least half, they learned later, were defective (a Los Angeles journalist estimated that Southern California had only eight functioning muskets in 1851). When they reached Cupa, Garra’s deserted village near Warner Hot Springs, Fitzgerald set it on fire,