For thousands of years, our site was home to the Cahuilla Indians where it served as their healing grounds. No animals were hunted here since they were considered protected by the Cahuilla. We carry on that tradition today, living in harmony with the wildlife surrounding us.
In the early 1900s, a camping resort was established and known through the years as “Keen Camp” and “Tahquitz Lodge”. The lodge became a shooting location for filmmaking pioneers, who shot many westerns on and around the camp. Mary Pickford, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Elvis Presley and Katharine Hepburn filmed here, among others. The ruins of the lodge can be seen in the center of the property which has been renamed “Court of Friends”, and a props chimney built for a Mary Pickford film shot in the 1920s can be seen in Johnson Meadow.
On an Autumn day in 1980, Emily Jo Beard visited the area for the first time and recognized that her vision of giving life to as many orphaned animals as possible could begin here. She purchased the land and donated it to the cause. Living Free Animal Sanctuary began with ten dogs, five cats and Emily. She added the kennels, catteries and other support buildings to carry on the vision “to provide refuge and to bless our fellow creatures. If homes cannot be found for them, they will live out their lives in dignity and peace at Living Free.”