Historic Orella Adobes Suffer Extensive Damage in Flash Flooding

A damaged adobe in Corral Canyon

Friday morning’s intense downpour produced flash flooding along Corral Creek, near Refugio State Beach, causing “extensive damage” to a pair of historic adobes built by Ygnacio Ortega, said Mark Tautrim, a nearby farmer whose family is distantly related.

Tautrim was tending to his own property, located in nearby Venadito Canyon, when the downpour peaked. He drove eastward on Calle Real to check Corral Canyon, which is owned by Exxon, when he saw the damaged adobes. “It looked like one of them had gone down the creek,” he said. “I just saw roof pieces in the water.”

The Orella Adobes, as they’re called, were part of the original Rancho Cañada del Corral owned by Jose Francisco Ortega, founder of the Santa Barbara Presidio. Ownership passed to Bruno Orella and his wife Mercedes Gonzalez y Guevara in 1866.

Tautrim said Exxon, which has owned the property since 1971, had once used the buildings as offices and had done a great job refurbishing the adobes several years ago. In 1993, the Orella Adobes were given landmark status by Santa Barbara County supervisors.

“Immediately following the weather incident, we activated our emergency response plan,” said Todd Spitler, a media advisor with Exxon Mobil Corporation. “When it is safe to do so, we will assess the potential impacts of flooding to our site and the historic buildings.” No injuries were reported.

Last summer’s Sherpa Fire, which burned nearly 8,000 acres, had rendered much of the region’s canyons susceptible to flash floods.


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