Home Main Forums Bar & Grill Old Trapper's Lodge: Mid-20th Century Folk Art with a Nod to Knott's Berry Farm

  • robertpaulsen (254 posts)
    Profile photo of robertpaulsen

    Old Trapper's Lodge: Mid-20th Century Folk Art with a Nod to Knott's Berry Farm

    In the interior of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, there is a fascinating collection of statues, fake tombstones and other examples of folk art.  These are what remain of Old Trapper’s Lodge.  It was created by John Ehn (1897-1981), who was a trapper before moving to California, who opened a motel near the Burbank airport at Arvilla Avenue and San Fernando Road called the Old Trapper’s Lodge in 1941.  There is a story that John had originally hired Claude Bell (Knott’s Berry Farm artist and creator of the Cabazon/Pee Wee Adventure dinosaurs near Palm Springs) to make a statute of himself for the motel, but after about three days, he felt he could do it by himself and took over.  There is no record that this actually happened but seeing the statutes, it’s hard not to believe that John Ehn was at least inspired by Claude Bell’s work.

    I’m pretty grateful that the statutes exist.  There’s a lot of folk art that is disappearing due to neglect and it’s good to see that these have survived (at least for now).  They are so fun to visit in their tongue and cheek depictions of a fictional west.  Some of the statutes wouldn’t pass the politically correct test today, but I tried to keep in mind that they were built in the 1950’s and have a pretty ridiculous feel to them.

    LWolf, Enthusiast, Haikugal like this

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • Pam (988 posts)
    Profile photo of Pam Donor

    1. I thought this looked like a Roadside America kind of place..

    ..and what do you know, there is a listing for it.



    • robertpaulsen (254 posts)
      Profile photo of robertpaulsen

      2. Cool link, Pam!

      Sorry I missed that before.  I think the first I read about it was a book called Weird California.  It really is a fascinating place!

  • LWolf (91 posts)
    Profile photo of LWolf Donor

    3. That was fun.

    How long has this been at Pierce?  I was there a few times in my youth, tagging along with an adult who was there for some reason…not a student.  I got to tour the pig barn and some other things, but I would have had a lot more fun with this!

    • robertpaulsen (254 posts)
      Profile photo of robertpaulsen

      4. I believe its been there since the late 1980s.

      It was declared a California Historical Landmark in 1985, right around the time the land the motel was on was sold to the airport.  Quite a lot of fun to visit!