The Way We Were

The Rust Family: Lower Topanga Canyon Pioneers

Clayton and Ina Rust arrived in Lower Topanga Canyon in the 1920s, and helped  transform what was still a corner of the wild west into a neighborhood of interconnected families and family…

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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…

Christmas in the Santa Monica Mountains

The earliest account of Christmas in the Santa Monica Mountains appears to be one published by Frederick Hastings Rindge in his 1895 book, Happy Days in Southern California. Rindge describes his ranch…

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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…

5

The Santa Monica Pier Turns 110

The Santa Monica Pier turned 110 on September 9. It’s an impressive anniversary for a structure whose fate has so often been in the balance.  This much-loved and nationally recognized landmark has…

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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…