Tour Information and Requests
The Cultural Resource Section welcomes active and retired military, base residents, visitors, school groups, tribal organizations, cultural resources professionals and institutions, and members of the general public to visit the various heritage assets present on base.
Note: Only those with valid Department of Defense, other valid government agency identification or sponsored visitors will be allowed access to Camp Pendleton. For further base access information go to: http://www.pendleton.marines.mil/Base-Access/
To request tours of the Ranch House National Historic Site and the Marine Corps Mechanized Museum on Camp Pendleton, please email your requests to: MCBCAMPEN_history@usmc.mil or phone (760)725-5758.
Museum staff will work to provide your access to the base for Docent-led tours which are available by appointment. In addition, you will need current identification, proof of insurance, proof of registration. You may be searched at the gate.
Visit the Marine Corps Mechanized Museum on facebook or go to: http://www.themech.org/
The Camp Pendleton Historical Society is a 501(c)3 organization in support of the base's History and Museum's programs. Go to: http://www.camppendletonhistoricalsociety.org/ for information.
Brochures for Cultural Resource Sites on MCB Camp Pendleton and Tour Information
A number of heritage assets are present on MCB Camp Pendleton that can be visited by members of the public interested in the rich cultural heritage and history of the area. The Cultural Resource Section welcomes active and retired military, base residents, visitors, school groups, tribal organizations, cultural resources professionals and institutions, and members of the general public to visit the various cultural resource sites present on base. The information presented below provides details on how to visit these locations.
In some cases, informational brochures have been developed that present a detailed history of the heritage assets. When available, these brochures can be downloaded by following the links below.
Santa Margarita Ranch House and Prehistoric Village of Topomai
The complex is listed as the Santa Margarita Ranch House National Historic Site as well as a California State Historical Landmark. The complex includes the Ranch House Chapel, the oldest structure on base, the Bunkhouse Museum, dedicated in 1978 by Col James Roosevelt, and the Ranch House, built in the mid 1800s. This was the home of Pio Pico, last governor of Mexican California, and succeeding owners Don Juan Forster, the O'Neills, Floods, Baumgartners and, finally, United States Marine Corps Commanding Generals. Historic artifacts at the complex document pre-history through Mission and Rancho periods, the 1942 purchase of Camp Pendleton, and reflect the WWII and the Korean War. Exhibits include early ranch equipment, photographs of President Roosevelt's historic visit, antiques donated by Anthony Quinn during the filming of "Guadalcanal Diary" in 1943 and early Base history including SSgt Reckless and the Mounted Color Guard.
The prehistoric Luiseño village of Topomai is nearby. Archaeological studies suggest that the major Native American occupation of this location took place immediately prior to and during the early Spanish period. Like other Luiseño rancherias, Topomai would have been politically autonomous, controlling a certain well-defined territory surrounding the main village. Resources within Topomai’s territory would have been closely managed, and the territory boundaries vigorously defended. Pre-contact population estimates range from 10,000 to 3,000 persons, while population estimates during the Mission period are between 200 and 100 persons.
Tours are available by appointment and begin at 10 a.m. from the last week in September to the end of May. Tours can be requested via email by clicking here. Tours may also be requested by calling (760) 725-5758 or by faxing (760) 725-5727, “Attn: History and Museums.
Las Flores Estancia, Las Flores Adobe, and Prehistoric Village of Uchme
Located near the coast at the mouth of Las Flores Creek, the Las Flores Estancia was established in approximately 1827 and consisted of a large rectangular-shaped adobe building that included a chapel and hospice used to house travelers between the San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano Missions. After the secularization of missions by the Mexican government during the 1830s, the estancia became a Native American pueblo, and ultimately was absorbed into the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. By the late 1860s, the compound was used as a corral and stables until it was abandoned and fell into ruin. The Las Flores Adobe was built in 1868 and features three elements: the two-story Monterey Style building, a Hacienda Style building, and a carriage house. The property and its buildings have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1991 and the Las Flores Adobe has been a National Historic Landmark since 1968. The prehistoric Luiseño village of Uchme is nearby. Ethnographic information suggests that the emergence of Uchme as a key village may have been the result of the consolidation of smaller villages in the region during the 1700s in favor of villages in key locations near reliable regional water supplies. The site was occupied throughout the Mission period and, by the end of the period, had become an independent pueblo for Luiseño associated with Mission San Luis Rey who had converted to Christianity. In 1838, there were 138 people residing at Uchme. A visitor to the village in the early 1800s noted grazing cattle and gardens, “scattered about in the little valleys, cultivated by Indians, for their own personal benefit, and in which they are permitted to labor when not required to give their time to the interests of the Mission.”
Tours are available of Las Flores the second Friday of every month. Tours can also be arranged by appointment provided advanced noticed of 15-30 days prior to the day of the planned visit. Tours can be requested via email by clicking here.
Los Cristianitos Archaeological Site
The archaeological site known as Los Cristianitos is the reputed location of the first baptism in Alta California. This act was described to have been performed by two priests from the Portola expedition on two dying Native American infants. A path and steps lead down from the terrace to a spring that is at the base of the slope and is roughly 20 meters from the top of the terrace. The site is a California State Historical Landmark.
Patrons are able to visit the Los Cristianitos Archaeological Site at any time.
A Ribbon of Concrete - the Story of Old State Route 2 on MCB Camp Pendleton
This 7 mile long section of two-lane concrete road, located on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, is one of the few remaining sections of California's first paved highway-Old State Route 2. Today it is dwarfed by Interstate 5, but in its day, State Route 2 was cutting edge technology. In 1926 California Highways magazine even called it "a monument to its builders, both engineers and contractors." When it was finished, State Route 2 followed California's coastline from San Diego to San Francisco, often along the same route as the historic El Camino Real. It was the first state highway to connect these major cities.
Get brochure here.
Camp Talega, officially known as Area 64, is located at the very northern end of MCB Camp Pendleton where Cristianitos Road and Talega Ridge Road intersect. Camp Talega consists of several long rows of approximately 70 Quonset huts, miscellaneous support structures, and two medieval-style towers located at its entrance. The area was developed during World War II as a training camp, with the majority of buildings built between 1944 and 1954. In 1975, Camp Talega and its surrounding area was used as a temporary camp for thousands of Vietnamese refugees as part of a massive resettlement program following the end of the Vietnam War.
A self-guided tour of Camp Talega is available for all patrons. Please check-in and pick up the self-guide booklet at Building 64385.
Camp Pendleton Driving Tour
A driving tour that directs authorized patrons to a number of historic sites on Camp Pendleton is also available. The driving tour provides directions to historic sites and interpretive information. The suggested route begins at a segment of El Camino Real and ends at the San Onofre Beach Club.
Get Brochure Here