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The French and Italian Heritage of Santa Cruz Island

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Date: December 10, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the December “From Shore to Sea” lectures, Ann Huston, the Chief of Cultural Resources with Channel Islands National Park, will discuss the ranching operations on Santa Cruz Island during the late 1800’s and early 1900s.

Huston will discuss the French and Italian heritage of the owners and the workforce of Santa Cruz Island, and how their heritage influenced the island architecture and agriculture.  Justinian Caire, a French immigrant to San Francisco, became sole owner of the Santa Cruz Island Company in the 1880s, and oversaw most of the ranch development that is visible today on the island.  He had business and family ties in Italy, and employed both French and Italian workers in his island vineyards and sheep ranching business.  Huston will describe Caire’s development of the island ranches and the European influences seen in the island’s landscape.

Huston is the Chief of Cultural Resources and manages the cultural resource management programs for Channel Islands National Park.  She has worked for the park for 10 years, and previously worked as a historian in the San Francisco and Atlanta Regional Offices of the National Park Service.  She received a B.A. in Social Science and an M.A. in Historic Preservation at Sacramento State University.  She has conducted research on the French and Italian heritage of Santa Cruz Island in the Santa Cruz Island Foundation archives, and in the records of the descendants of Justinian Caire.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, December 10, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is one of the world’s largest known sea caves. The cave measures 1215 feet in length (the size of more than four football fields), has a 160 foot entrance, and is almost 100 feet wide.