Murphy Ranch – Ruins of a Nazi Compound

Things to Do, What's New — By Noah Albert on February 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Between 1933 to 1945 there was evidently a Nazi compound in Rustic Canyon near Brentwood. The property in question is now owned by the city of L.A. and is located within Topanga State Park. It makes for a great hike, like a real-life Lost adventure right here next to the city. Most of the wooden structures were burned down in 1978 (there is still a barn at one end of the property, but that might be a post-Nazi structure). Some very large tanks, an iron and stone gate, a power plant and a collapsed metal building still remain, much of it now covered with graffiti. Also notable are the terraced hillsides, where irrigation systems helped to grow fruit, nut and olive trees as well as other plants. This place is home to incredible long flights of concrete stairs; these alone would make the trip worthwhile.

After the war, Winona and Norman Stephens (the Nazi sympathizers had who funded the construction of this compound) remained living here until 1948. At that point this place was bought by the Huntington Hartford Foundation and became an artist’s colony. The property was purchased by the city in 1973; the Mandeville Canyon Fire in 1978 finished off most of the wooden buildings.

The trail head is located at the end of Capri Drive off Sunset Boulevard, about 3 miles west of the 405 (park on Casale Road or Umeo Road; pay attention to the “No Parking” signs). You then walk up Sullivan Ridge Fire Road (Capri Drive basically turns into the fire road when it enters the park) for about a mile. There are a number of ways to access the ruins: 2 stairwells drop down from Sullivan Ridge Fire Road and there are also the remnants of a road leading down from the prominent gate. This road down into the property splits: the left branch heads close to the power plant, the right branch takes a longer path to the barn where you can walk down the stream to find the main buildings. Also see the blogs listed below for more info and directions.


L.A. Time’s Article entry

35in52losangeles blog entry

thenativelatourist blog entry

[Photos courtesy of Noah Albert]

Tags: Adventure, folk art, hikes, Hiking, Historic Los Angeles, Nazi Compounds, Offbeat L.A., photography, Ruins, Santa Monica Mountains, walks


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