The San Francisco Call

September 22, 1895


A Cavern That Is Inhabited by Hundreds of Poisonous Reptiles. Santa Barbara Women Succeed In Dispatching Two of the Largest Snakes.

SANTA BARBARA, Cal., Sept. 21.— A party of Santa Barbara women, who have just returned from a camping-out at Point Conception, bring an extraordinary account of the vast number of rattlesnakes found in a certain portion of the Cojo ranch. On one occasion the campers found five snakes in one knotted, squirming mass, and succeeded in killing two of the largest, bringing back their rattlers as trophies. The snakes literally infest the land and it is impossible to travel any distance without seeing them in large numbers.

On the Cojo ranch there is a great den where these reptiles are accustomed to collect, the opening being some twenty five feet in width, and consisting of an immense crevice between two rocks, the lower one of which forms a projecting shelf, which is polished by the constant travel of the slimy bodies over it. Ranch men in the vicinity declare that this den shelters hundreds of rattlers, and one among these which has been repeatedly seen is declared to be ten feet in length.

No horses or cattle can be induced to approach the cavern and even hogs, ordinarily the rattlesnakes’ enemy and destroyer, cannot be driven up to it.

William Hollister states that two similar dens of somewhat less importance formerly existed on the Santa Anita ranch, but that they are now deserted, and he believes that the reptiles have all moved up to this den on the Cojo rancho, which adjoins the Santa Anita, a few miles further up the coast, with only wild and uncultivated land between. Local sportsmen are talking of organizing an expedition to investigate this uncanny place. The women who bring in this news are of the first social standing, one of them being the daughter of a banker well known throughout the State. They are cultured women, yet had the courage to go out upon this trip without masculine protection, baring no fear of marauders, and relying upon their own revolvers and guns and their own good aim in case of unexpected trouble.

William Wallace Hollister, the Ladies and the Snakes.