Remembering Colonel McMenemy

As a little girl, I remember visiting Colonel Logan T. McMenemy in his house on Oak Creek Ranch. The dark tiled floors contrasting with the white walls of his adobe home still stand out in my mind. I remember thinking his magnificent view down the coastline toward Ventura was even better than ours, but then our adjoining property was at a lower elevation. Colonel McMenemy and his wife graciously served cookies to their young visitor, and I’ve never forgotten their kindness or their beautiful home.

Colonel McMenemy allowed the Montecito community to access his ranch, on a shady trail that once traversed his property in the lower foothills all the way east to San Ysidro Canyon. Sadly, that trail was lost several years ago, as Colonel McMenemy died in 1972 and the ranch was eventually sold. Today that property has been subdivided, and new homes can be seen under construction in what is now the Oak Creek Ranch development.

But Colonel McMenemy’s name lives on, branded on a trail that heads west out of San Ysidro Creek, up the switchback and all the way over to Hot Springs Canyon. On some maps this is still seen as “Upper McMenemy Trail,” but many don’t realize that at one time there really was a “Lower McMenemy Trail,” some of which was the dirt “service road” that had been graded through the lower portion of the ranch. By the same token, most don’t realize that there was once a man named McMenemy for whom the trail is named.

So who was Colonel Logan T. McMenemy? Unfortunately, not too many people are left who still remember him, so information is scarce. Born in Rockford, Illinois in 1892, McMenemy served in the American Field Service, spending six months as an ambulance driver in France in 1915. McMenemy also served in the Army Air Corps in both World War I and World War II.

According to his obituary, Colonel McMenemy was “a retired Chicago construction and real estate management executive.” He served as president of McMenemy and Martin, “construction and real estate management experts,” and McMenemy, Inc., a real estate management firm.

Upon his retirement, McMenemy moved to Santa Barbara, and bought Montecito’s Oak Creek Ranch in 1947. He ran a few head of cows in the Montecito foothills, and erected a hitching post and picnic table at Lightning Point, where equestrians often rested to enjoy the views up and down the coast. As a teenager, there were several occasions when, upon realizing a particularly impressive sunset was shaping up, I would throw a bridle on one of our horses and gallop bareback up to Lightning Point, where I would watch the sunset unobstructed by trees.

In 1962, McMenemy made a gift to the Santa Barbara Park Department for a trail, which was constructed by the Montecito Trails Association in 1963. In 1964, the Association was incorporated as the Montecito Trails Foundation.

My father, Philip Kirst, remembers his late neighbor as an avid sailor, with the wheel of a favorite yacht hung on one of the walls in McMenemy’s elegant ranch house. When McMenemy died at the age of 80, he left his wife, Elizabeth, and one sister, but no children. But his legacy of a dedicated trail is still enjoyed by hundreds of trail users every year.

California State Trail Day

To promote California State Trail Day, the Montecito Trails Foundation is sponsoring a “Work Party” on the McMenemy Trail on Saturday, May 19. Volunteers are requested to meet at Lower Manning Park at 8:30 am, where carpools will be organized to the Hot Springs Trailhead on East Mountain Drive.

Volunteers are requested to wear heavy gloves, hiking or work boots, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Although tools will be provided, you are encouraged to bring your favorite loppers. Bring your own lunch, but longtime trail advocate Vie Obern has volunteered to bring apple pies for dessert.

Mark Your Calendar

Saturday, May 12

Montecito Trails Foundation

Toro Canyon Hike, 8:30 am

Easy-Moderate, 3 miles

Departs from trailhead on Via Real and West Toro Canyon Road. Hike Toro Canyon to creek connector to Polo Club Loop. Arrive 10 minutes early to check in and sign release forms. Dogs are welcome if they are leashed and you bring clean-up supplies.

For more information call Dick at 963-8858.

Saturday, May 19

California Trail Day

Volunteer Work Party

McMenemy Trail

Celebrate annual California State Trail Day by joining a volunteer work crew to brush the McMenemy trail.

See information above, or call Montecito Trails Foundation President John Venable at 568-0833.

Sunday, May 20

Sierra Club Hike

Three Pools Beyond Seven Falls

Difficult, 5 miles round-trip

Primitive trail, some rock climbing. Bring swimsuit, lunch and water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am.

For more information call David at 705-3025.