Hike,  Places

Murphy Ranch, CA

I like taking photos unusual and abandoned places. Murphy Ranch was one of the most unusual places that I have ever encountered. Just outside of Santa Monica lies an upscale neighborhood nestled in the coastal hills. Those undeveloped hills and canyons contain numerous scenic trails where you can get good views of the landscape and glimpses of the ocean. In these canyons lies the ruins of an unusual compound ravaged by time and the elements.

The 55 acres of land for Murphy Ranch was purchased from Will Rogers. This self-contained compound was built by a Nazi organization called the Silver Legion of America. From my limited research it appears that followers were convinced that Germany would win WWII and take over America. They believed that anarchy would prevail after a German takeover. This compound was designed to keep Nazi sympathizers safe until Germany established order in conquered America. Well, things did not go as they planned, Germany lost the war, and the compound was confiscated after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. I read that the ruins were demolished in 2016 so I do not know if anything remains.

Murphy Ranch Stairs

When we visited, much of the compound was gone and the ruins were covered in graffiti. After parking we hiked about 1.5 miles and got to an opening in a chain link fence. Past the fence were concrete stairs. These are not your normal stairs — about 250 concrete stairs descended about 600′. The stairs seemed to go on forever and with the turns and dense foliage you could not see the bottom.

Murphy Ranch Water Tank

At the bottom of the stairs was a large steel tank for holding either water or fuel. We crawled through a small opening in the tank and got some photos of the graffiti inside the tank. I had to wonder how people reached the upper parts of the tank. We crawled back out of the tank and continued on. The metal was completely gone is several sections at and near ground level.

Murphy Ranch Garden

A path paralleled a graffiti covered rock wall and eventually led to the garden are. I read that this may have been a greenhouse but the concrete outlines of raised plant beds were all that remained. Since this was to be a self-contained community they planned on growing their own food and keeping animals. To the side of the garden were more ascending stairs.

Murphy Ranch Powerhouse

Below the gardens was the remains of the powerhouse. This building was covered in graffiti inside and out. The building seemed remarkably well-built and stable in spite of 70+ years of exposure and neglect. We met some musicians and a videographer there filming a music video. We spent a fair bit of time photographing the building inside and out from different angles.

Powerhouse Interior, Murphy Ranch
Murphy Ranch Machine Shop

The path lead the ruins of a machine shop. There was twisted metal, corrugated metal sheets, wood, and miscellaneous hardware. Since this was to be a self-contained community they would need the means to fabricate parts for maintenance and repairs.

Murphy Ranch Barn

The trail eventually went to the remains of a barn. The inside of the barn was covered with graffiti and there was also some graffiti on the outside. On the way back to the road we climbed more stairs, walked past a large and dented metal fuel tank, a large pit, and the main gate. This was one of the most unusual sites that I have visited. The story is just too strange to be fiction.

Water Tank (?)

This large pit was just inside the main gate. It may have been a water tank but I am not sure.

Murphy Ranch Main Gate

The last thing we saw at the Murphy Ranch was the main gate which has seen better days. We hiked back to the car after walking around the compound for several hours. On the way we met several people who were going to the same place. This place represents a strange and uneasy time in the history of our country.

Site Metaphor

Reflecting on this adventure I could not help but think of this compound as a metaphor. The Nazis were ruthless, powerful, and their horrible ideology infected many people. It is possible that they could have dominated the world if key WWII battles went badly for the allies. The Nazis and their horrible ideology was defeated. This compound was to be a glorious luxury community in the Nazi world envisioned by those deluded followers. That Nazi ideology lays in ruins in the great ash heap of history as does the ruins of this compound.

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