April 08, 2018

Photo Essay: Kellogg's Ranch, Upon His 158th Birthday

Where would LA be without the Midwestern industrialists who migrated to Southern California?

There were, of course, the Bissels of Kalamazoo carpet-cleaning fame, the Wrigleys of Chicago chewing gum repute, and the Gambles of Procter and Gamble who fled Cincinnati for Pasadena.

And don't forget King Gillette the razor magnate from Wisconsin by way of Illinois, Andrew McNally the mapmaking partner of Rand, and Adolphus Busch the beer baron and garden-keeper.

And then, there was W.K. Kellogg, the cereal king, who bought a ranch that overlooked the Pomona Valley to spend his winters away from Battle Creek, Michigan and have a place for his Arabian horses to roam.

Mr. Kellogg would've turned 158 years old yesterday. Amazingly, much of his original ranch house is still intact.

You can walk on original rugs, but you can't sit on original chairs. It's best if you don't put anything on the tables, which are very old. And the original telephone doesn't appear to be able to make any calls anymore.

Constructed in 1926, the ranch-style mansion hosted a number of celebrity guests including Will Rogers, Gary Cooper, Rudolph Valentino, and Mary Pickford—but the real household name with all generations spanning into the present day is Kellogg himself.

Although the Kellogg House isn't a house museum per se—serving much more time as a wedding venue and event space for rent—the cabinets in the dining room and kitchen pay tribute to the Czar of Corn Flakes with their displays of historical artifacts.

Sure, Kellogg was a horseman, outdoorsman, and philanthropist...

...but he's gone down in history as the Baron of Breakfast.

In 1932, Kellogg donated all 750 acres of his Pomona ranch to the University of California—with the stipulation that the Arabian breeding program continue—only for it to be taken over by the military during WWII (as did pretty much every other large property at the time). Until 1948, it operated as the Pomona Quartermaster Depot (Remount) to breed war horses.

It's been part of the Cal Poly Pomona campus since 1966.

Now, Kellogg's two worlds collide at the historic house...

...though the Kellogg's brand has veered pretty far off W.K.'s initial intention to offer healthy breakfast alternatives made from whole grain and with no sugar added.

And by the looks of the contemporary offerings in the kitchen...

...there's no turning back.

Elsewhere on the Ranch, Kellogg showed off his prized Arabians with weekly horse exhibitions...

... and now, Cal Poly Pomona students carry on the tradition with monthly horse shows.

...featuring both English-style and Western-style horse riding techniques.

After demonstrating feats of precision (walking sideways and the like), for the finale, they let one of their horses run around the arena—and boy, can they go.

After the official show is over, audiences are invited to walk through the main gate of the Arabian Horse Center to the stables—part of Kellogg's original construction for the ranch—and meet some of the horses.

Breeding still occurs here, and there are currently several pregnant mares (including thoroughbreds that are carrying Arabians). There should be some foals by next month's show.

In the meantime, the horses are either incredibly hungry or exceedingly cuddly, as they nibbled away at my outstretched knuckles (offered for sniffing) and arm and tried to eat my hair. (I felt a set of horse teeth try to clamp down on my scalp—thankfully, gently.)

There's something I just love about the way a horse blows hot out of his or her nostrils at you—not sniffing you per se, but anointing you with their breath.

Today I was more than happy to nuzzle and be nuzzled, my bare, sunburned shoulders being taken between pairs of horse lips, the smell of half-eaten grass much too close to my face.

Even if the horses considered having me for lunch.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: At Home With Mr. Las Vegas
Photo Essay: The Horses of the Rose Parade
Photo: Feeding the Wild Horses

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