History Mystery

Speaking of California, there’s a place I never read about in my high school history books; the 50-acre Murphy Ranch in Los Angeles. It was built in 1933 by landowners Winona and Norman Stephens. Winona and Norman and a merry little “army” of people known as the Silver Shirts, under the influence of “Herr Schmidt” who is believed to have been a German spy worked in the compound which was a self-sustaining Nazi community, which was slated to be ruled over by none other than the Fürher himself, Adolf Hitler, once the war was over. In the compound’s heyday it boasted a diesel power plant, a 375,000 gallon water tank, a giant meat locker and a bomb shelter.

Architect Paul Revere Williams made the wrought iron gate at the entrance of the compound. Williams also designed the homes of such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Lon Chaney and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. His designs also included plans for a four story mansion with 22 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, several dining rooms and libraries, a swimming pool and gymnasium. But those plans were never carried out because the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor federal agents stormed the compound and arrested nearly 50 Nazi sympathizers.

But now as the compound, which is located in the Will Rogers State Historic Park, nears its demise to make way for a picnic area and rest stop for hikers and the like, it still attracts curiosity-seekers, historians and even modern day Nazis.

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One of these days I’ll get this slideshow thing right, with captions that tell you what you’re looking at. In the meantime, you can follow along with this list. 1:Front Gate  2: Power Station  3: Murphy Ranch (what’s left of it)  4: Trash Pit (inside the power station)  5: Another tangle of steel  6: Stairway to Murphy Ranch  7: Concrete Water Tank  8: Vegetable Garden

This well concealed little piece of unfortunate American history, this little tidbit that falls under the category of “things we Americans get told about on a need-to-know basis” has literally crumbled into obscurity; its deteriorated walls are a canvas for graffiti artists and some buildings’ skeletal framework have collapsed into twists of steel. Nobody had Twitter or Facebook back then, I guess is why.

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