9 Images

Rancho Guejito

The 8,000-square-foot hacienda-style home built by Benjamin Coates is on a ridge at the southern end of the Rancho Guejito property. Its U-shaped courtyard and swimming pool overlook the rancho. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
The road that leads to the gated 21,400-acre Rancho Guejito is adorned with a simple mailbox and unassuming sign bearing the property’s name. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Rancho Guejito, in northern San Diego County, is privately owned. There is no public access to the property by ground. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Benjamin Coates stands outside the main house on Rancho Guejito in 2004, the year he died. The Coates family still owns and operates the cattle ranch, but many people in the area fear the land could be destined for development. ()
Arches frame the view from the Rancho Guejito hilltop home. (Laura Embry / San Diego Union Tribune)
Cattle graze on the property at Rancho Guejito, which some people want the government to buy to keep it pristine. (Laura Embry / San Diego Union Tribune)
Willie Tellam, 75, here on his horse on his cattle ranch in Ramona, was a cowboy at Rancho Guejito for 35 years and is among the few locals who got to know the late ranch owner, Benjamin Coates. Rancho Guejito remains the only original California Rancho still intact. (Don Bartletti / LAT)
New York artist Theodate Coates, standing next to a portrait of her late father, Benjamin Coates, whose land she now controls. ()
In a January 1998 photo taken at the Coates home in Haverford, Pa., are, from left: Ben Coates Sr., Al G. Hill III and Al G. Hill Jr. ()