The Gilman Ranch has a long colorful history . The city of Banning 1st permanent landmark, an adobe house was built in 1854 and used as a stagecoach stop. James Gilman purchased the land in 1869 and about 200 head of horses and cattle but continued to operate the stage stop. He married Martha Smith, daughter of the first pioneer settler in the Pass, Dr. Isaac Smith. They built the ranch house in 1879 and again after a fire in 1977. The Gilmans switch from raising cattle to farming grains and eventually to growing raisins, grapes, figs, prunes, apricots, peaches, almonds and olives.
A variety of fun and informative programs are offered at Gilman Ranch that serve as an excellent way to explore the Old West. Make reservations to learn more about the California Gold Rush and pan for fool's gold (Pyrite), or sign up for the Native American program to have hands on experience of the native American lifestyle. Pick up a park brochure at the Riverside County Park District Headquarters or drop into the park and check it out.
Gilman Ranch it is best known in connection with the last great western manhunt of Willie Boy, a Paiute Indian who wished to marry a young woman named Carlotta against her father's wishes. After killing the father there was a 3 week manhunt ending with Willie Boy taking his own life. The movie "Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here" starring Robert Redford was filmed at Gilman Ranch and the surrounding Banning area. ( Historic Gilman Ranch - History )
Ranch | Fire | Hike
Gilman Ranch and Wagon Museum
Riverside County’s Gilman Historic Ranch and Wagon Museum in Banning holds annual events and classes for school kids. You can tour the house and wagon museum or play, hike and relax in the park. The museum and house are available for tours (small fee). You will find blood oranges, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, figs and other fruit trees spread out the property. They encourage you picking some fruit (don't get greedy). Every Christmas the ranch decorates the house and has activities including a firetruck ride and Santa. Check with their website for dates and other spring and summer events . At the moment the park is only open the 1st and 2nd Saturday every month.
Riverside County Parks received a 6 million dollar grant to develop the Ranch and park, so look for more exciting things to come.
Gilman Ranch Fire
In 2006 Banning had 2 big fires. The Gilman Ranch Fire was the closest to town. The fire burned down the Gilman Ranch Barn, but the house and most other buildings were saved. Amazingly the McCoy house (on top of the hill) went untouched while the smoke and flames surrounded the house. Since then the apple fire was the only other fire to get close.
Gilman Ranch Hike
There is a trail house that climbs up the hill behind the ranch. Follow the main dirt trail north of the orchards and look for the sign to the right. The trail is steep and narrow so take your time. there are three benches along the way to stop, rehydrate and rest. We have spotted coyotes on the trail once. Once you reach the top you can follow the ridge until it dead ends. You be treated with plenty of beautiful views in every direction. With new grant money the county is sure to add more trails in the future.
- Gilman Ranch and Museum hours
- Open to the public every 2nd and 4th Saturday 10am to 4pm
- school tours by appointment only
- Fridays 10am - 2pm
- W. Wilson St., Banning CA
- (951) 922-9200
- Information Links
- Gilman Historic Ranch and Wagon Museum