Pablo Capra
Pablo Capra

Pablo Capra is a former Lower Topanga resident, and continues to preserve the history of that neighborhood on his website, www.brasstackspress.com, and as a board member of the Topanga Historical Society, www.topangahistoricalsociety.org.

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Spence’s Cabins: The History Behind Topanga’s Original Motel

In 1907, the newly widowed Keturah Catherine Spence (1857-1940) left Brantford, Canada to start over in Los Angeles. Catherine, as she called herself, risked her fortune on an avocado orchard, becoming one…

Pioneering Artist Created Her Own Montmarte in the Canyon

Landscape painter Laura Way Mathiesen brought an indomitable spirit, a formidable mind and boundless curiosity to Topanga in the 1920s. A woman with red hair and “dancing brown eyes,” Laura Way Mathiesen…

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1930s Bring Changes to Topanga

Around the same time that the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) bought Lower Topanga in 1924, its President, William May Garland (1866-1948), also managed to get Los Angeles selected as the host…

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The Great Eleven Cult in Topanga

An unusual Topanga Beach sight in August 1924 would have been Sam Rizzio, 18, walking back and forth, repeating, “I am a dead man,” while a woman sprinkled a vial to wet…

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Topanga Yacht Harbor Planned at Cooper’s Camp

While the Topanga Yacht Harbor never materialized, in 1975, the Topanga Woman’s Club formed the Topanga Creek Yacht Club, “in view of the importance of the creek to life in Topanga.” (See…

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“A Bullfight Shuts Down the Rodeo Grounds”

Although rodeo stunts were introduced to the Cooper brothers’ ranch by Helen Gibson in 1921, and the first official rodeo was thrown there in honor of Sheriff William Traeger in 1922, the…

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“Helen Gibson and The Rodeo Grounds”

The development of Topanga Beach happened quickly after a public campsite was created there in 1919 by two brothers, manager Miller Cooper and Deputy Sheriff Archie Cooper. Dancing was popular at Cooper’s…

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“Silents in the Canyon”

Topanga Beach was also the setting for early movies, most notably a 15-minute, single-reel film, Crossing the American Prairies in the Early Fifties, that was directed through a megaphone by D. W.…

They Tramped to Topango

About 40 years after the last Native Americans departed Topanga Beach, the land was given by Mexico to Ysidro Reyes (1813-1861) and Francisco Marquez (1798-1850) as part of a 6,656-acre grant in…