Rancho del Paso 1862 – 1910


Attorneys and land speculators Lloyd Tevis and James Ben Ali Haggin took title to the Rancho del Paso in May 1862, after obtaining judgments for nonpayment of legal fees against their client Samuel Norris, who had been plagued with expensive litigation ever since he purchased the 48,000-acre ranch in 1849. The new owners rented some southern portions along the American River to farmers. The northern sections above present-day Marconi Avenue, including the lands where McClellan AFB was later established, were pasture for herds of cattle, horses, and some 20,000 sheep. It was now known locally as Haggin’s Rancho, although Tevis was still half owner. In 1873 Haggin, who raised racehorses in Kentucky, hired veteran horse trainer John Mackey as the ranch’s superintendant. There was a railroad station on the property where modern Marconi meets Auburn Boulevard, and Mackey’s employees called that area The Arcade because of an avenue of trees nearby; it became today’s Arcade Boulevard. The Arcade was the ranch’s shipping and sales center, with 24 large barns, each with 64 horse stalls, and numerous other buildings where rancho employees lived and worked. Another main area bordered by today’s Watt Avenue, Arden Way and the American River was a network of paddocks where Mackey kept and trained the young thoroughbreds, often 600 or more at a time. Mackey’s skill combined with Haggin’s wealth and enthusiasm made the rancho famous in the 1880s and 1890s: Haggin’s horse Ben Ali won the Kentucky Derby in 1886, and in 1890 Salvator set the record for the mile with a time of one minute and 35.5 seconds. Haggin quit racing in 1891 but continued to breed and sell racehorses on the former Rancho del Paso until 1905. In 1910 Haggin and Tevis sold the ranch to the Sacramento Valley Colonization Company, who had little trouble selling to individuals for farms and home sites. Today several area names recall the period before the rancho was subdivided, for instance Haggin Oaks Golf Course, Hagginwood Park, and streets named for winning racehorses. Grant Union High School is so named because the area was once a Mexican land grant. 


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