• Spahn Ranch Sits Like a Ghost Town

Spahn Ranch Sits Like a Ghost Town

CHATSWORTH, Jun. 14 – It seemed as though the notorious Spahn movie ranch would get a new lease on life three years ago when plans were announced to build a $3 million European tourist center on land that was once a retreat for Charles Manson and his nomadic clan.

The ranch’s ramshackle Western movie set in the rugged hills above Chatsworth had fallen into disuse and it had become a haven for runaway youths and unemployed stunt cowboys when Manson and his disciples arrived in 1968. It was there that they planned the shocking Tate-LaBianca murders of August, 1969.

A year later, while Manson was on trial, a massive brush fire swept through the ranch and destroyed the movie set.

Then came the announcement in 1973 that work would soon begin on a German-style resort complete with Bavarian beer gardens, lodges, swimming pool, gift shops and restaurants. A group of investors who owned property next to the ranch purchased the late George C. Spahn’s 30 acres to complete groundwork for the tourist center.

The investors’ Transcontinental Development Corp. has spent about $100,000 grading and landscaping the site for the beer gardens, according to Frank Retz, a director of the firm.

But delays in sewer construction have stymied the project, and it now faces new obstacles as the county puts together a general plan for development that may conflict with the resort project.

It could take two years or more to settle the issue, and Retz says the investors are now undecided on whether to go ahead with the tourist center or sell the property.

In the meantime, the old Spahn ranch property sits vacant in the boulder-strewn hills above Chatsworth, the silence broken occasionally by motorcyclists who are now the main users of the old Santa Susana Pass Road. A sign marking the site of the Bavarian beer gardens project is the only clue to its unsettled future.


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One Response to Spahn Ranch Sits Like a Ghost Town

  1. Matt says:

    I wonder when the parks department took it over

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