Sunday, May 1, 2016

MansonBlog Tour 2016: Independence, CA

Today was Independence, CA - where Manson and others were processed and held following the Barker Ranch raids.

We were fortunate enough to get inside the courtroom!!! The below photos are the courtroom from outside the doors, then from just inside.

Above is the iconic LIFE Magazine photo of Lynette and Sandy, followed below by the seats they occupied. The courtroom has changed very little since 1969.

Above is the stunning view from the courthouse steps. Eastern CA offers some really spectacular views of the eastern Sierras.

Above is the now boarded-up Pines Cafe. While in Independence, the press would treat the girls to pie, sodas, and so on to have more opportunities to speak with them.

We had hoped to gain access to the old jail to see Manson's cell. The engaging folks in the courthouse informed us that it had been razed around 1990. Sitting between the historic courthouse and the Pines Cafe is this empty lot which was the location of the jail. We were disappointed but undeterred. We set out for the Eastern California Museum a few blocks away to see if we could find photos.

The curator of the museum was a great help. We were able to get these archived pics of the old jail which housed Manson in 1969:

They promised to research the archives for any surviving photos on the inside where Manson was held. If we get them we will post them for you.

We also tried to determine which of the motels the girls stayed in. The museum curator was certain it was Ray's Den on the north side of town:

But we think that there is a possibility that it is this one on the south side:

This is the Property Report from Manson's arrest October 12, 1969 in Inyo County.  He gave an alias of Charles Miller Benson when arrested.  According to Manson the officers booking him added the Jesus Christ alias, an alias he never claimed use.  The charges on the report are 10851 which is a vehicle code charge for stealing a vehicle, 496 PC receiving stolen property and 272 PC contributing to the delinquency of a minor.


Farflung said...

I live for motels like Ray's Den.

Gravel apron, appointed with a tree. About a dozen rooms so I feel like a big man renting 8 percent of the place. Probably an ice machine with an admonishment about filling coolers. Rotary phones in the room, perhaps with locks? And a paper band over the toilet seat as a seal for thorough sanitation. Which means Ray's Den is safe for the ladies.

I'm psyched!

Anonymous said...

@Farflung - Whoever came up with that paper band/toilet sanitizer thing was some kind of a con-man/genius. That guy could sell ice to eskimos.

Have you ever been to any of those wedding chapel motels on the Vegas strip? I checked out one, and it had concrete floors and the TV was chained to the wall. Looked like a prison. Since it was a wedding chapel/motel, perhaps the decor of the rooms was some sort of metaphor?

Thanks for the pictures, Matt. I spotted George in a couple of them, and I'm pretty sure that's Patty's (‿ˠ‿) in the first picture.

orwhut said...

Those paper bands on the toilet seats remind me of a Saturday Night Live bit, probably modeled after the opening monologue to "Highway Patrol". It told how after a guest checks out of a room, a highly trained team of experts move in so the toilet will be, "Sanitized for Your Protection".

AustinAnn74 said...

Those mountains are simply breathtaking....

Farflung said...

I would be remiss by not tipping my hat to the opus magnum of motel accoutrements.

The king of coin operated kitsch.

Featured as prominently on the motel sign as "Color TV", "Free local calls", and "HBO", was the MAGIC FINGERS.

A parking meter like device mounted near the headboard served as a beacon for a soothing, high tech massage delivered through the miracle of electricity.

The thought of an entire generation which has no knowledge of this device, or the paper toilet seat bands, makes me weep for our species.

Robert Hendrickson said...

ME too Farflung, but in Arizona (1966) late at night and very tired driving I got a room at one of those motels where the long-distance truckers love to rest after a hard day's work of serial killing. The room was dimly lit, but as I sat on the bed I could notice the floor was somewhat lumpy. So I pulled back the corner of the carpet and YES - the floor was "dirt."

NO snakes or scorpions for ME and I bee-lined out of there pronto.

SO a year later when passing through, I stopped at one of those new and improved fancy two story hotels. Thank God they had one of those new vibrator beds where for only a quarter I felt exactly like I was back in the VW Bug I was driving all day.

As for GUNS used in crimes, I was thinking about starting a recycle service for criminals. They could mail in their "used" guns for another "used" gun, BUT used in a lessor crime. Kind'a like trading "down." I think it could be a real successful business.

COPS could even get their "plant" guns from the SERVICE with a "guaranteed" traceability to a previous CRIME.

Just think: NO more "government' buy-back programs and NO more "melt-down" headaches.

Ben Gurecki said...

I wish I was there with you guys but family here needed to come first. I sent Matt a couple of photos that should be added here to your Independence story. Be safe have fun, Peace, Ben

Ben Gurecki said...
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Robert Hendrickson said...

BTW: It was "Caryl Chessman" who made Mulholland Drive infamous for dumping bodies. Of course that gave ALL the Killers and Dumpsters a common place to exhibit THEIR handiwork. Then suiciders got the idea to save time and money by just driving THEIR cars off a cliff on Mulholland.

Maybe IF criminals had more intellectual creativity THEY could become more successful, which in turn could inspire more detectives to be more successful also.

Ben Gurecki said...

Brilliant idea Robert!!

Farflung said...


1966, Arizona, and a VW bug.

It's almost impossible to imagine such a journey today. No AC in that bug other than the wing windows, or if you were rich, you may have mounted a Thermador Car Cooler. The parasitic drag from that device must have been phenomenal. But you had some cool air for about 100 miles, when it ran out of water. But there were plenty of full service gas stations back then.

So you could pull over and drink a soda by the vending machine, because the bottle had to be returned to a rack mounted on the side. Oddly I don't recall anyone cheating that system and taking the bottle. Plus there was typically a mechanical Tom's candy machine adjacent, where you could buy a chocolate bar which was totally sun soaked in the Arizona desert. Good times.

Unknown said...

Great photos.interesting to see part of the Manson legacy as it was. Years go by.some things replaced.but memories continue. Thank you.

Unknown said...
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orwhut said...

I had to look up Caryl Chessman. His story seemed familiar, it must have been the basis for some TV crime plots I saw in my younger days. According to what I read, he committed a kidnapping and rape on Mulholland Drive. I didn't see anything about murder or dumping bodies. What did I miss?

Jenn said...

Thanks for the tour photos, gang. I really wanted to join you this year. I live only 200 miles from Cielo. But it was not to be. Next time, I hope!

Jenn said...

By the way, I've not visited the gun dump site. I must do so next time that I'm down there, which is next weekend, especially given that the house is not occupied.

Robert Hendrickson said...

FARFLUNG: The VW was one of first to have factory AIR

ORWHUT: Chessman worked out of near by Passadena till HE discovered Laurel Canyon "spot" which is now a park.

Zelda Formaldehyde said...

I'm with Farflung, Ray's Den = bucket list.

stoner van houten said...

this was the best part for me of the trip..going in the courtroom unsupervised was great...i had so much fun taking photos and pretending i was manson in the defendants chair had a great time to (action figure of me i brought) TOUR !!!

Hippiedoll said...
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Hippiedoll said...

I had a great time hanging with the group! I couldn't believe the luck we had on this trip:
1. The unsupervised courtroom access.
2. The unoccupied house where the little boy found the gun & access to the backyard.
3. Finding Rick at the fence on summit trail & his willing to talk to us.
I'm glad I tagged along with the group & got to see the different places we went.
Thank you guys for allowing me to tag along with you guys.
In the words of Leslie Van Houten:
"You couldn't meet a nicer group of people"

Unknown said...

Small correction regarding the old Inyo County Jail: I worked in Independence, CA, in 1997/1998 and the jail was still standing. It was used for storage by the county administration back then and I was given a tour of the facility as part of my job function. During this tour I saw the cells in which members of the Manson family were incarcerated. One of them had carved a tribute to Charles Manson into the floor. Not many people know about this and the country officials did a good job of keeping the exact nature of that tribute under wraps in order to avoid "Manson family tourism" or other forms of morbid curiosity. I bet they were glad to be rid of the whole thing when the jail was finally razed. And the whole place exuded an atmosphere of "ewwwww" anyway. Good riddance!