In 1941, John Ehn opened his motel the “Old Trapper’s Lodge” at Arvilla Avenue and San Fernando Road near the Burbank Airport. The story goes that in order to advertise the motel he hired Claude Bell (famous for the Cabazon dinosaurs) to build a roadside sculpture and simply through careful observation, John learned how to work in concrete. From 1951 to his death in 1981, John Ehn peopled the grounds of his hotel with a concrete cast of characters straight out of American Western folklore and mythology (with faces cast from Ehn’s own family). The motel was made a California State Historical Landmark in 1984. Several years later the site was destroyed to make way for airport expansion and the statues ended up on the grounds of Pierce College in Woodland Hills (google maps link).
The statues are on the western side of the Pierce College campus (6201 Winnetka Ave 91371); they are located north of El Rancho Drive and just east of the stables (google maps link again). The college only provides the grounds; every couple of years the statues are repainted and maintained by mysterious volunteers.
This place is a sorta well-known folk art site and as a bonus it is very close to the Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you want to make a bike ride of the visit, the Orange Line bike path goes immediately by here–the Orange Line bike path is accessible from the North Hollywood Red Line stop. (If you transport your bike aboard the Red Line remember the bike rush hour rules – here is the short version.)
More websites that feature this place:
roadsideamerican.com — they have such a great database
agilitynut.com — another good roadside attraction site
donaldlaird.com — this website has great info about CA State Historical Landmarks
Usonian’s flickr — nice selection of photos
[Photos courtesy of Pilar Wiley]