Daniel Van Meter

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Daniel Van Meter
Daniel Van Meter.jpg
Born Daniel E. Van Meter
9 March 1913
San Francisco, California
Died 2000
Residence American
Occupation Historian, inventor
Known for Tower of Wooden Pallets

Daniel Van Meter (1913-2000) was an eccentric, best known for his Tower of Wooden Pallets that became a cultural historic monument.[1][2]


Van Meter was the son of James van Meter, a Dutch American chemist. The van Meters first owned a ranch in the 2100 block of West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles with his brothers. There they raised goats, chickens, turkeys and rabbits.[3]

Van Meter later lived in Sherman Oaks, California near the Sepulveda Dam Recreational Area. He purchased property there in 1947 and by 1988 was the only house left on the block. The area had been fully developed into condominium complexes, a fire station, a private school and office buildings.[4] Van Meter and his brothers had turned the property into a type of junkyard. On the property among a collection of small farm animals was historical memorabilia, including a dozen scrapped cars, a gas pump registering gas at 24.9 cents a gallon, a 1938 city bus, and old wooden wagons.

He was once called to a murder trial as a witness because he found what was left of the victim while going through a trash bin in search of cardboard boxes. He always claimed that 'if it weren't for eccentric people like him gathering junk, there wouldn't be any need for museums.'[4]

Van Meter's "Tower of Wooden Pallets"

Tower of Pallets[edit]

Van Meter is noted for his pile of discarded wooden pallets from a beer company. In 1951 when the local beer company had a labor dispute they wished to get rid of thousands of broken-down used wooden pallets. Van Meter said he would take a "few" off their hands if they would deliver them to his property. Five truckloads of the pallets showed up. He decided he had to do something with them, so contrived a wooden pallet tower structure. The 3 foot by 3 foot 6-inch-thick pallets soon became a structure over 20-feet high. It was 22 feet at the base and built in a circle. It took him just a few weeks to construct on his property and was over the grave site of an unknown three-year-old Native American child.[4]

The Tower of Wooden Pallets was designated a historic-cultural monument, which had the same rights and recognition as the Hollywood Sign, the Watts Towers, and the cruise ship Catalina.[4] Van Meter enjoyed his special "dwelling" as a hangout to get away from the frenzy of urban society and claimed his tower of some 2,000 rejected broken-down wooden beer pallets surrounded a "Tree of Heaven."[5] Van Meter said he climbed to the top of the wooden structure and looked at the moon and the stars at night.[4] It was a spiritual place to him.[4]



  • Chicago Tribune, Feb 2, 2005, News section, p. 23 Odd legacy sparks towering debate ; Eccentric L.A. landowner Daniel Van Meter's stack of wooden beer pallets, named a monument by the city, stands in the way of family's plans by Jessica Garrison.
  • Los Angeles Daily News, May 10, 2003, N1 News Section, Tower of Pallets may face mallets; [VALLEY Edition] by Kerry Cavanaugh \ Staff Writer
  • Los Angeles Times; Jan 23, 1938, p. A6, Noted Inventor Burial Planne [sic]
  • Los Angeles Times; Feb 25, 1942, p. A1, Noble Called Racketeer by Former Associate
  • Los Angeles Times; Apr 16, 1942, p. 15, Brothers Seek Arrest in Vain
  • Los Angeles Times; Jul 6, 1942, p. 6, Noble Aids Go on Trial Today
  • Los Angeles Times; Nov 28, 1946, p. 10, Seven Denied Damages by State Board
  • Los Angeles Times; Jul14, 1954, p. B8, Rites Set Today for Mrs. Esther Van Meter
  • Los Angeles Times; Feb 15, 1988, p. 8, Simon, Richard, Tower of Tranquility Unusual Sherman Oaks Landmarks Provides a Refuge from Turmoil
  • Los Angeles Times; Feb 19, 1988, p. 3, Simon, Richard, For a Collector, His Is an Odd Pallet
  • Los Angeles Times; Nov 14, 2002, p. B4, Harvey, Steve Only in L.A.; The Valley’s Once-Mighty Tower of Pallets Has Fallen on Hard Times