James C Photography | LA Murphy Ranch

LA Murphy Ranch

July 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I regularly take hikes to push my body and clear my mind. It is kind of a meditation for me, allowing me to refresh and replenish my creative energy. I was lucky this time to find a group of like-minded adventurers who wanted to explore the Murphy Ranch in Los Angeles. Our group parked near the expensive homes in the hills and began our hike up the trail. The paved road has some tagging pointing to various interests like a water tower that we otherwise would have missed. After the water tower, we began the difficult task of descending the 500 steep steps to the canyon floor. From their we hiked the trail until finding the stables/barn. Part of the building's roof and wall had collapsed. The interior and exterior was covered in graffiti art. Next we came upon the machine shed/housing, or what was left of it. It was really more of a two story heap of scrap metal with a couple walls remaining. By far the most exciting building was the power station. The building is intact and covered with elaborate graffiti. We then explored the gardens and the water tank. Hiking back up the stairs was exhausting, but it was a worthwhile experience.

History: The Murphy Ranch is a ranch built in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles in the 1930's 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. The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, local police occupied the compound and detained members of the 50-strong caretaker force.

Note: The buildings are in a state of disrepair. Caution should be used when exploring the buildings as rusty metal, broken glass, and unsafe structures are all around.




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