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Spahn Movie Ranch
The Spahn Movie Ranch, with a portion of a back road.
|Founded by||Lee and Ruth McReynolds|
|• Total||22 ha (55 acres)|
|Elevation||415 m (1,364 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (PST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (PDT)|
Spahn Ranch, also known as the Spahn Movie Ranch, was a 55-acre movie ranch in Los Angeles County, California. In 1947, Lee and Ruth McReynolds purchased 55 acres of property from Dr. Atkins (Dr. Sharon M. Atkins purchased the property in 1928). Lee built some movie sets (a western town) next to his Trading Post on the property to catch some overflow from the very successful Iverson Movie Ranch. In 1953 the 55 acres was sold to George Spahn and became known as the Spahn Ranch. George Spahn added more sets and rental horses and it became a popular location for horseback riding among locals.  With mountainous terrain, boulder-strewn scenery, and an 'old Western town' set, Spahn Ranch was a filming site for some scripts, mostly B movies. No longer in use, the entrance to the historic ranch was at 12000 Santa Susana Pass Road (street numbers have since been changed) of the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains above Chatsworth, California. Now part of the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, Spahn Ranch is notorious for having been the primary residence of Charles Manson and his followers, the "Manson Family", for much of 1968 and 1969.
The ranch took its name from dairy farmer George Spahn, who purchased the property in 1953. Silent film actor William S. Hart has been rumored to have once owned the ranch. The property was originally homesteaded by Dionisio Sanchez and James Williams. Some western-themed movies and television shows were filmed on the ranch, including The Outlaw with Jane Russell directed by Howard Hughes, and a few television episodes of Bonanza. It was also the filming location for the B-movie The Creeping Terror.
Spahn was 80 years old, going blind and living at his ranch when he allowed the Manson Family to move in, rent-free, in exchange for labor. The family did daily chores and helped run the horse-rental business, which had become Spahn's main source of income. Despite this arrangement, Spahn was never accused of any role in the many murders for which members of the Family were later convicted, the most infamous being the Tate–LaBianca murders committed on August 9 and 10, 1969. In late 1969, Robert Hendrickson began filming the Manson Family at the ranch for his documentary film Manson. There he filmed Spahn, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Bruce Davis, Nancy Pitman, Catherine "Gypsy" Share, Sandra Good, Paul Watkins and others. It is the place where the "family" lived while committing the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders in Los Angeles. The "family" also stayed at Barker Ranch, which is located in the Panamint Range between Death Valley and the Panamint Valley in the northern Mojave Desert.
Fire, Spahn's death, and incorporation into a state park
A wildfire destroyed all of the Spahn Movie Ranch's film sets and residential structures on September 26, 1970. George Spahn died on September 22, 1974, and is buried in Eternal Valley Memorial Park in nearby Newhall.
The Spahn Movie Ranch site is now part of California's Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, with the "Devil's Slide" section of the historic Old Santa Susana Stage Road on the park's western side. There are several hiking trails which give access to extensive views of the San Fernando Valley.
- Historical Society, Chatsworth (November 2008). "Spahn Ranch & Curtis Automotive" (PDF). www.chatsworthhistory.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
- imdb.com: "Most Popular Titles With Location Matching "Spahn Ranch, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA", 02 April 2016.
- imdb.com: " The Creeping Terror (1964 TV Movie) Filming Locations", 02 April 2016.
- LA Curbed Blog: "The Story of the Abandoned Movie Ranch Where the Manson Family Launched Helter Skelter", 22 October 2014.
- Cielodrive.com: Spahn Movie Ranch
- Cielodrive.com: Manson Family story evidence.
- Police Raid Ranch, Arrest 26 Suspects In Auto Theft Ring Cielodrive.com
- Santa Susana Pass SHP California State Parks
- Escondido Canyon Park LAMountains.com