Murphy's Ranch: My Valentine's Day Visit to an Abandoned Nazi Camp

  1. Once beyond the yellow gate at the entrance of the park (off of Capri in the Palisades), we walked about a mile along the fire road until the beautiful view to our left was obscured by chain link.
    "The Murphy Ranch is a ranch built in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles in the 1930s by Winona and Norman Stephens, who were sympathizers of the Silver Legion of America. The owner of record in 1933 was Jessie M. Murphy. Designed as a base for Nazi activities in the U.S., it was intended to be capable of being self-sustaining for long periods. The compound had a water storage tank, a fuel tank, a bomb shelter, and various outbuildings and bunkers." - Wikipedia
  2. We found the narrow, decaying steps. They're easy to miss, hidden behind some chain link that bans graffiti.
    "On Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, local police occupied the compound and detained members of the 50-strong caretaker force. As of 1990, it was abandoned and in a state of disrepair, and covered in graffiti. The site is currently owned by the city of Los Angeles. As of 2014, the ranch buildings were still standing, despite repeated proposals for their demolition." - Wikipedia
  3. It's a long decent down to the dark floor of the canyon, and the temperature change is surprising.
    I'm sure this was even more beautiful than I know, because about halfway down the stairs shifted slightly and I had to stare at my feet to make sure I didn't slip and fall (to my death, obv. Always to my death.)
  4. At the bottom, we followed the dirt road to our right that took us underneath the tree canopy.
  5. After walking for a bit, we were met by this.
    It's surrounded by chain link. But don't worry, youths have cut holes in all the chain link here. Go on in.
  6. Inside:
  7. We went through the house and up the hill, to the structure out back. The ground below was filled with more spray paint cans and beer bottles than dirt.
    This place has made me understand that there's a deep connection between spray painting and those caffeinated drinks that also have booze in them. Yolo.
  8. Passing the house, you'll come to some large, fenced off area filled with rusting construction supplies. But respecting the chain link is what a goober would do. And yesterday, somehow, we were not goobers.
    Welcome to hell, bitches.
  9. This place reeks of paint. (Also, might I add, has some super creepy juju.)
    You guys remember that Invisibilia podcast ep on fear? Where they talk about humans being able to smell it? If you're curious about its scent, come here. This place has the stagnant smell of 50 years of menace.
  10. There is so much to explore, and the property just keeps going.
  11. Apparently if you continue past the construction site you come to some stables. We're saving that for next time. (Meanwhile, here's another creepy picture:)
    Who wants to come next time?
  12. If you climb the stairs by the house, as we did, you'll come to a cemented in (now neon-painted) walking garden.
    No pics of it, I was too busy climbing all over it, imagining I was Estella in some grunge version of Great Expectations.
  13. We went up and up the stairs some more, till we arrived at a winding, paved road. This is your ticket out. Keep climbing, past the densely tagged water tower, and you'll arrive at the gates of Murphy's Ranch.
    According to Wikipedia: "The estate's main gate was designed by Paul Williams, a well-known African-American architect in the Southern California area."
  14. Make a right back on to the fire road, and you're headed back the way you came. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers whizzing past you.
    And for bonus points, before you're out of the park, find the run off trail that leads to the crest of the mountains to your left. Make a right at the top, and follow the trail, which will take you on back toward the entrance of the park. It's narrow and filled with wildflowers, with views of Mandeville Canyon.