THE WOOD RANCH
The Wood Ranch was heavily used by the Chumash Indians. One site, now buried to protect it from vandalism, was occupied seasonally for over 4,000 years. Another site is thought to have been used several thousand years ago. Some very significant ceremonial sites have been identified on the old ranch.
During the Mexican period of settlement, the area where the golf course is today was known as Canada Verde, i.e., “green canyon”. Later Anglo-American settlers referred to the area as “the Verde”. The bottomland was green throughout the year because of the high water table. Mt. McCoy was then known as Verde Hill. (Verde Hill was part of the ranch held by C.B. McCoy and was part of what was referred to as the Verde.) Long Canyon is shown on the Stow and Power survey of 1887-1888 as Canada de la Leha. Leha does not seem to have any meaning in Spanish and may, therefore, be an error in recording or in printing. Lena, for example, would render the phrase as “firewood canyon” - a name that would fit oak canyon as a source of fuel wood.
An old Indian trail seems to have run along the western margins of the Wood Ranch extending through the saddle southwestward into what is now the City of Thousand Oaks. That trail was apparently referred to by the Indians as the Simi’ Trail, because it was the route between the Conejo Valley and the Chumash village of Simi’. It continued to be used as a route during the Spanish and Mexican periods and was referred to as the “Simi Road” during the early Anglo-American Period. The 1861 federal survey of El Rancho Simi shows the “Conejo and Simi Road in Puento”. In other words, the Conejo and Simi Road was present in the pass described above.
Wood Ranch, which comprised more than 4,000 acres and included the area now occupied by Mt. McCoy and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, was acquired by C.B. McCoy from the Simi Land and Water Company. Eventually it passed into the hands of the Wood family, which named it “Rancho Madera” (madera means “wood” in Spanish). Later, it simply was referred to as the Wood Ranch. (I remember well the wrought iron entryway into the rancho with “Rancho Madera” overhead.) The names Long, Sycamore and Oak canyons seem simply to be descriptive and appear on the U.S. Geological Survey maps. Montgomery Canyon is certainly named for the Montomery family, which owned the Montgomery Ranch to the north and east of the eastern portion of Wood Ranch.