Friday, August 23, 2013

Spahn pic right after the Clampitt fire in September, 1970

I recently found this snapshot of the Spahn Ranch buildings immediately after they burned as the result of a wildfire. This got me curious about wildfires...

The Ranch buildings burned in September of 1970 in a fire known as the Clampitt Fire. The fire burned a large area extending along the Simi Hills from northeast of upper Las Virgenes Canyon through Rocketdyne to Black Canyon. Here is a topo map of the 1970 Topanga fires.

If you are a geek about wildfires, or Santa Susana State Park (of which the Spahn property is now a part of) there is a scientific report on the subject HERE (PDF).

Spahn after the September, 1970 Clampitt fire

Spahn before the fire

Today, from the same general vantage point






15 comments:

St. Circumstance said...

Interesting to see these pics side by side. whenever I look at pics of the area today- I always think it looks kind of small to have had so much going on...

Oh but were things going on lol

Suze said...

Did anything at Spahn survive that fire? This pic tells me everything burned.

AustinAnn74 said...

The vegetation and foliage is so green & thick there now, sort of like Sandra Good's hair.

Panamint Patty said...

St, The story goes that after the fire, the whole front ranch area was backfilled in with debris and soil. Therefore the area where the front ranch used to stand is about 10 ft higher off the ground than it used to be. Matt, did Patty get that right?

Matt said...

Matt; A little back story

The fire started a few days before in Newhall. But fires were a yearly event in that area, so nobody paid much attention, especially because a mountain range separated the San Fernando Valley from that area. It was also obvious that the infamous Malibu fires never reached the Spahn Ranch either. Thus, the old Western Town movie set remained unscathed for decades. Was this fire season to be any different? Apparently, Gypsy thought so! She was busy gathering personal Family belongings, which prompted me to inquire: What's going on? She responded: It's time to get out! But the fire is way off in Newhall, it never gets to the Valley, I said. There's going to be fires, earthquakes and everything - it's time. Did Gypsy know something nobody else did? This time, not only did the Newhall fire reach Spahm's Ranch, but it burned everything in it's path, all the way to the ocean. Was the Devil himself playing with matches again?

No way-he was in jail.

As I rode on the freeway fires could be seen like lit matches sparking in the night - for a special occassion. This was way too freaky

Days later, we returned to the ranch with cameras where the Family would be filmed for the last time at their once personal home.

They explained that when the fire actually reached the ranch, the firemen purposely stood-by and watched it burn.

Robert Hendrickson

St. Circumstance said...

Thanks very interesting. Mr. Hendricskon is fascinating as always.

All these years I always daydream and imagine Spahn ranch as this carnival like atmosphere and all this activity going on all around the area and when you see the pics from today it seems like one small clearing at the bottom of a hill...

Just an interesting contrast.

I have only ever driven by the spot and was never really exactly sure where the Ranch was.

to have been standing across from the exact spot and staring into the memory- I wonder if you felt anything lol any trace of vibe left at all from all that went down there, or...

was it just look like looking at any other abandoned area???

many of the other key locations are still around or have been rebuilt or remodeled, But this is just an empty space with nothing to replace the energy that existed.

You guys did a great post awhile back about Cielo and a place having a vibe or being haunted...

If that happens- certainly this location has a unique sort of thing going on all of its own.

Max Frost said...

St.

The place is actually HUGE property wise. The front of the ranch - what you usually see in pics - is but a fraction of the entire landscape.

St. Circumstance said...

I would think it had to be to read all the things going on there at any given time...

the bunk houses, the main set, the outlaw shacks, the stables, all the junked cars, the main house. At

but for some reason- to me- it looks like such a small area in the more recent pics...

Farflung said...

A wicked wind from Newhall indeed.

Newhall was named after a man who purchased an impossibly large land grant, established when California was part of Mexico. The Newhall family went on to make a fortune from the Magic Mountain theme park, an oil field in the area, and several major planned communities built in the region.

So one of Newhall’s progeny did what anyone born into wealth and privilege would do….. he kidnapped a school bus full of children from Chowchilla, and buried them in a quarry. So much for the theory of poverty being a wellspring source of criminal behavior, as he had partnered with a couple brothers (Schoenfeld) whose father was a doctor.

Fortunately all the children and the bus driver escaped without physical harm, and the ownership of the quarry pointed directly at Frederick N. Woods, the father of a kidnapper. The trio pleads guilty and was sentenced to life. Is it a coincidence that Woods and Schoenfeld are presently serving time at the same prison as Bruce Davis? Of course it is, don’t be silly.

Frederick Newhall Woods IV has recently been denied parole and isn’t eligible again till 2015, when he will be serving his 39th year. That’s the same amount of time which Susan Atkins served when she died. Is it a coincidence that Atkins died in Chowchilla? Of course it is, don’t be silly.

So what purpose does this trivia serve? It could be a measure of ‘fairness’ when discussing how parole is meted out in comparison to other crimes. Most have long forgotten this bizarre story and it was lacking any drugs, sex, Hollywood elites; or the many threads, both real and imagined, associated with the Family. No one was sentenced to death, but two of them remain in prison while the other was released on parole last year. He was found eligible, but scheduled for release in 2021, upon which he took his case to court and won an immediate release. It is too bad for Bruce Davis, as he has a murder conviction which adds the dimension of Prop 89, and the Governor’s power of denial.

So the circle remains unbroken with a Newhall fire destroying Spahn Ranch, where Atkins lived when she committed murder, before being sent to Chowchilla, where several dozen children would be kidnapped, by a descendant of Newhall, who is serving time with Bruce Davis, whom also resided at Spahn’s.

Max Frost said...

When you look at one of those pics all you are seeing is the front of the ranch. The property goes far behind what you see as well as far left and far right. The front of the ranch is not much at all in proportion to the entire property. Those pics don't show much at all really.

Doc Sierra said...

Farflung said...
So one of Newhall’s progeny did what anyone born into wealth and privilege would do….. he kidnapped a school bus full of children from Chowchilla, and buried them in a quarry.
-------------------------------------
I remember that. I was doing two a day summer football practices right before my 9th grade year at Westborough Jr High in South San Franciso, CA. That and Gary Gilmore were all over the news. Thanks Farf, now I'm sweating and hurting while I relive those two a day football practices. lol

St. Circumstance said...

Thanks Max- I wonder when they talk about "Charlies Rock" and all the hidden lean-toos and tents behind the ranch...

It doesn't look like there is any room between the empty space where the ranch used to be and the hill behind it.

but yet all this stuff was going on lol- horseback riding- the
" just in case place"- all these Shacks Charlie stayed at before moving up front...

These pics make it look like a small clearing in front of a huge hill-

where was all this other stuff going on lol

maybe its scale or maybe I am too high??

Max Frost said...

There's actually A LOT of distance between the clearing you see and the hill behind it. The pictures are always an optical illusion.

Behind the clearing is a drop-down to a creek and a huge flat area with a lot of trees and the big rock you speak of. Up the slope on the other end of the flat is a dirt road - the one you see in the MANSON docu where kids are trotting along to always is always forever.

On the other side of that dirt road is the approach to the hill in the background. To the right of hill is frank retz's old house and A LOT more ranch, with hills, caves, clearings, etc.

If you follow the creek I mentioned, to the right, far enough you'll run into the cave from the famous pic with a group of them huddling in it.

The property is very vast. I actually got lost one time exploring the area to the left of the hill. Lost for hours.

And, no, I wasn't high.

Matt said...

Farflung's link from NewHall to Chowchilla is "far-out" (a 1960's saying) Now, how about Spahn's Ranch through Newhall then through "Vasquez Rocks" to Death Valley and Barker's Ranch!

Vasquez Rocks (a state park)is where Tiburcio Vasquez in 1873-1874 became one of California's MOST notorious bandits and used the "Rocks" to hide from the sherrif and hide his "loot." It is where as a Cub Scout I became fassinated with the old West's mythology.

So what does this have to do with the State of California taking over the Spahn Ranch for a state park. That's right, California is known for taking the land where just such events occur. Thus, maybe 20 more years from now, when all those involved have passed-on, Boy Scout's and even Girl Scout's will have a picnic and listen of tall tales of buried bodies and buried "loot," left behind by the notorious MANSON Gang.

YES Farlung, now look at the "Wild West" connection with the Manson Family and also look at Mr. Jeff Guinn's fasination with the Old West and the future starts to take shape.

Robert Hendrickson

Panamint Patty said...

NICE.