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Spann Ranch


wouldbestar
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A few weeks ago, I saw a documentary on the Tate/LaBianca murders which included interviews with Manson gang members at a place called Spann Ranch which it said was an old Western movie set. It did seem familiar. At the risk of sounding macabre, might I ask which ones were made there? It would seem to deserve being known for more than a hideout for killers. Any history would be appreciated.

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Wouldbe,

 

The Spahn Movie Ranch was located in the Santa Susanna pass and mountain range about Chatsworth. Back in the day, that area was awash in movie ranches from the famed Iverson (where part of *Stagecoach* was shot) to Corriganville to other smaller movie ranches.

 

The original owner was silent film cowboy, William S. Hart. In 1948, a former dairy farmer, George Spahn, bought the property and changed the name of the ranch. TV shows such as *Zorro*, *Bonanza* and many others were reportedly shot there.

 

By the time Charles Manson and his "family" began moving into the ranch, westerns were on the wane and there wasn't much business at the ranch though Spahn did keep some ranch hands around to take care of the horses and livestock. The girls in Manson's "family" took care of George and alienated him from his staff.

 

It was from here that Manson sent his followers out into the August night of 1969 to start his racial war by killing everyone at the home of Terry Melcher on Cielo Drive in the hills above Beverly Hills (it's unclear even all these years later if Manson knew that Melcher and his girlfriend, Candace Bergen had moved). The next night, Manson went with some of the family from the previous night and drove to Los Feliz. They killed Leo and Rosemary LaBianca who were returning home from a weekend trip.

 

The Spahn Movie Ranch (or what was left of it) burned to the ground in Nov. 1970 during a bad Santa Ana windstorm.

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The program said that Tex Watson went to the house before the murders and was told by a woman there that Melcher was no longer living in it. Manson did not seem to care, by that time he was too into starting his "revolution" for it to matter.

 

P. S. Thank you for the info

 

Edited by: wouldbestar on Apr 25, 2011 4:26 PM

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I took this photo of the ranch in late 1969 or early 1970, a few

weeks after Charlie was arrested. Squeaky, Sandra Good, and

Mr. Spahn were still living there. Randy Star was living there

too, and he was still alive at that time. Shorty Shea was murdered

at the ranch a couple of months earlier.

 

The highway on the left is the Santa Susanna Pass Road, the

ranch is on the right. I think this view is looking East.

 

2rrb2gh.jpg

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Probably the easiest thing to do is do a Google search for:

 

22601 Santa Susana Pass Road, Chatsworth, CA

 

Click on the Google Map and see that the number 22601 is on the map on the North side of the Santa Susana Pass Road.

 

The land just South of that number is where the Spahn Movie Ranch and the buildings in my photo were located.

 

The Ranch was in the green area of the map, just a hundred or so yards West of the road marked "W Santa Susana Pass Road" on the Google map.

 

Try to put yourself on the main Road and go to a photographic view. Then look East, and go East on the Santa Susana Pass Road a few clicks. Just before the road turns right you should find yourself at the intersection of Santa Susana Pass Road and Redmesa Road, which is to the left of the Santa Susana Pass Road. Then look up at the boulders in the hill in front of you, due East of you.

 

You should see the street names in your view, with a 20 MPH yellow sign on the right side of the road, and Redmesa Road on the left. You can expand the view to full screen.

 

Look East, and look at the biggest boulder in the image, up on the side of the hill to the East. The large boulder looks a little like Kermit the frog with his mouth open. You can find that same boulder in my photo, although it is further away in my photo.

 

Ok, now turn around and face West, and drive West. On your left you will pass a new concrete bridge that is labeled "W Santa Susana Pass Road".

 

Keep going West just a little, and you will pass a private drive on the right, with a locked bar-gate across the road. On the left will be a low field, just before the main road turns to the right. That field is the location of the old Spahn Movie Ranch, as seen in my photo.

 

In front of the field, at the highway, there is a small red and white highway sign that reads "Tow-Away No Stopping Any Time". Behind the sign is a green bush. You will have to look South-East to find the small sign.

 

Just a few yards West of the red and white sign is a brown and white sign that reads "Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park".

 

On the North side of the highway at that location is a clump of large brown rocks, and you can see those same rocks in the lower left corner of my photo. In the Google view, just a few yards East of the clump of rocks is a blue and white sign that reads "The Church at Rocky Peak".

 

If you need more help, let me know.

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Hey, where'd everyone go?

 

These large round boulders in the hills all along the Santa Susana Pass Road, for about 5 miles from Chatsworth and on out West toward Simi Valley, are probably the most photographed hills and rocks in the world.

 

There were several old movie ranches operating out in that area, and everyone has seen many movies that were filmed on both sides of the Santa Susana Pass Road. Hundreds of movies, thousands of movies.

 

Here is a link to the Corrigan Movie Ranch, located about 2 miles further West than my photo:

 

http://employees.oxy.edu/jerry/corrigan/films.htm

 

Also, look up photos of movies made at the Iverson Ranch, which is on the North side of the road and located north of the Spahn Ranch. William S. Hart is supposed to have owned the Spahn Ranch before 1948, and many of his movies were probably made there, along with many others in the 1920s - '50s.

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