art, history

project Murphy's Ranch

MURPHY'S RANCH, the abandoned ruins of a former Nazi-compound. 

In the early 1930s, a mysterious German man, known simply as Herr Schmidt, befriended a couple of wealthy American Nazi-sympathizers. He claimed to possess supernatural powers and ties to the Third Reich, and he convinced Winona and Norman Stephens (our ever-pliable American couple) that Hitler’s takeover of the United States was imminent.

The facts surrounding this story are sketchy, even for historians. But the thing that’s definitely true is that there is a compound of overgrown, spray-painted ruins tucked away in a canyon in the Pacific Palisades, and you can hike to it.  

Rumor is the couple hoped to establish a Nazi Utopia that could sustain them and a small following through the apocalyptic-style months that would follow Hitler’s conquering of America. They built an elaborate infrastructure that included a 395,000-gallon concrete water tank, a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank and a power station.

It’s all still there today.  

Take Note:

  • The hike is just under 4 miles.
  • It is accessible from the residential end of Sullivan Ridge Fire Road (street parking at the intersection of Capri Dr. and Casale Rd.) or via Rustic Canyon from Will Rogers State Historic Park.
  • The compound is connected by a series of steep, stone stairs. Prep for sweat.