Descanso Gardens (continued)
At the ticket booth the office staff told me about the wonders of the nature reserve and the wildlife, including deer, brush rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and possums. On any given day, these four-legged creatures have been spotted among the shelter of the old Oak Forest. A bargain at the three dollar admission fee, I had a map of my environment along with a brochure about the history of the gardens.
In 1769, the King of Spain owned the current area known as Descanso Gardens claimed for him by the Spanish explorer Gaspar De Portola. Years later, a Governor deeded the 36,000-acre site to Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo in 1784, as part of a vast rancho. Verdugo died in 1831 and his land was divided between his son and daughter, who retained ownership until 1869. Then came a period of years where the land was continually bought, sold, and subdivided. Not until E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, in 1937 purchased the 160 acres now known as Descanso Gardens, did development begin on this magnificent parcel of land.