Ph. 6 ViewshedCatheys Valley Historical Society announces Friends of the 1879 Givens Ranch Historic Landscape and Barn subgroup

On February 27, 2017 the Catheys Valley Historical Society voted to form a subgroup, the Friends of the 1879 Givens Ranch Historic Landscape and Barn (the “Friends”), with Caroline Wenger Korn and Jill Harry as co-chairs.

This group was formed in response to the proposed 26 lot Vallecito subdivision on the east side of Highway 140 between School House Road and Hornitos Road on what is historically known as the Givens Ranch. It includes the 1879 “green” barn, dairy house, a hand dug well, and a portion of the original county wagon road.

“The CVHS and this subgroup wish to work with the land owners to preserve the rural historic landscape that encompasses these items,” said CVHS President Richard Westfall.

“We are working to preserve this iconic spot in the heart of Catheys Valley for the enjoyment of residents and visitors for years to come,” said Korn.

The Friends have begun by initiating a dialog with the owners, Forbello, LLC, suggesting a number of ways to preserve the historic landscape, including the possibility of swapping out the approximately 100 acres zoned Mountain Home in front of the hill that make up the landscape with 100 acres of the owners’ land on the other side of the hill which is zoned Agricultural.

Another suggestion is to combine lots to make them suitable for a ranch operation and to sell the land as such with the Friends offering to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the barn, dairy house, hand dug well, and wagon road.

Other options, including both donating and selling some land to the Friends, have also been suggested as a starting point to discussions.

“Of utmost concern at the moment,” continued Korn, “is saving the historic barn built in 1879 by the Cathey boys and the diary house built about the same time. Years of weather and neglect are taking a toll on these buildings.” 

The owners have expressed interest in working with the community to save the barn. The first step is to have engineers assess what needs to be done and give an estimated cost. 

In order to fund this project, the Friends are starting a donation campaign whereby interested parties can donate. If you would like to donate, you can do so by sending checks to WestAmerica Bank, 5121 CA-140, Mariposa, CA 95338, made out to Friends of the Givens Ranch and with account number 0168488336 in the memo line.

“Donors who include their mailing address will receive a thank you and receipt as all donations are tax deductible,” said Harry.

Those interested can keep track of progress and find other ways to help and/or donate by “liking” and “following” CVGivensRanch on Facebook.

“Posts of photos of this historic landscape and comments about why this site is meaningful to you would be helpful,” said Harry.

A website is also in the works and will be announced when ready.

If saving the Givens Ranch landscape - including barn, dairy house, well, oak woodland, wetlands, and historic wagon road - are important to you, the Friends of the 1879 Givens Ranch Historic Landscape and Barn also ask that you sign a petition stating this. The petition can be found at:

The petition will be shared with the owners, the Mariposa County Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors as a means of letting them know the value of this historic landscape to the community both near and far; the site is iconic and leaves a lasting impression on all who drive by it whether once on the way to Yosemite or daily.

The Friends hope that by working together cooperatively with the owner, a solution can be found to preserve an important part of Catheys Valley, Mariposa County, California state, and National history for the enjoyment of all for years to come. 

“Ideally, we want future homeowners to feel they are stewardship-partners, ensuring that this historic rural landscape is protected for everyone to enjoy; ancestors of long-time Catheys Valley families, all newcomers to Mariposa County, as well as the visiting public,” said Korn.

The Catheys Valley Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission of preserving Catheys Valley history and celebrating the community it nurtured - past, present and future. For more information, contact PO Box 321, Catheys Valley, CA 95306, 209-966-6753, or