By Scott Markus
There has been much concern for the fate of one of LA’s most unique landmarks and ties to strange history – Murphy’s Ranch. Plans for the demolition of the remaining buildings have long been known. Then, early in 2016, some dates became public knowledge. Specifically, late March was the bulldoze date. Scott and Connor made a trip to the site in early April to get a look at the changes. While a lot is gone, it could have been much worse.
Immediately apparent is the large fence and wall have been totally removed, making trail access even easier than it already was. Perhaps if the gates weren’t locked in the first place, people wouldn’t have felt the need to create their own hole in the wall in the first place.
The huge water tank was the first victim of the “clean-up,” having been eliminated in early 2016. It was fairly recently that someone got themselves stuck inside of it, requiring help from the authorities to get free (I think it’s okay to call them an idiot). The silver lining here is that there’s still evidence of where the tank was. The cement walls were sliced at an angle, creating a sort of curb for the downward sloping trail. Of course, we’d love for the tank to still be standing, but this is a nice accent that lightly hints at the former site.
Seen to the right, Connor (and co-adventurer, Brownie the chocolate lab) is standing in what was once the center of the large water tank. The now removed wall gives you a unique perspective and vantage point to how enormous this thing was.
Along the way we passed the remains of a small house (pictured below). Though largely untouched for the moment, most of the debris in the structure was swept out towards the road. Our guess is that the junk will be cleared, but we hope the foundations remain.
To our (and Brownie’s) delight, the most iconic building is still standing, fully in tact. Not only is it untouched, but for the first time that I’ve seen, the cyclone fencing around it has been removed, making this a strangely inviting location.
The large metal building, which had turned into a mountain of twisted metal was removed (before and after pictures below), along with the remains of a 1960’s VW Mini Bus. The loss of this bus is a negative to me because it was a wonderful example of how this location went from a center of hate and domination in the ’40s to a home to artistic endeavor and free thought/love in the ’60s. Poetry in history. The remnants of the van were brought up to the main road, likely for easier collection.
I didn’t really want this to be a “review” of the changes, as I am quite the naturalist/preservationist. I would’ve loved to see what was left standing of the large structure secured in a safe way, but I understand clearing out the debris. Though I hate the loss of the water tank, people getting stuck inside of it (again, like idiots) makes this an easy decision for the powers that be to simply remove it. Removing the wall & fence at the trail head seemed unnecessary. Simply opening the gates and welding them to a secure, open position would’ve been effective and a much easier task then removing everything in full. Still, as far as everything else is concerned, I’ve found my peace with what we’ve lost and I just hope nothing else goes. This is such a wonderfully unique piece of Los Angeles history, it would be a shame to lose anything else.
I plan to do a more complete live video discussion on this topic in the near future on Periscope. That video will later end up on YouTube and right here with video footage of some hard to find locations and a lot more ‘off the beaten path’ structures in this area you may not know about. Stay tuned!