(Spahn Movie Ranch: 55-acres, Los Angeles, California)
Burned down in 1970, the Spahn Ranch is now Santa Susana State Park in Chatsworth, CA
Spahn Ranch, also known as the Manson ranch, was a 55-acre movie ranch in Los Angeles County, California, used for filming generally Western-themed movies and television programs. With mountainous terrain, boulder-strewn scenery, and an ‘old Western town’ set, Spahn Ranch was a versatile filming site for many scripts. No longer in use, the entrance to the historic ranch was at 12000 Santa Susana Pass Road 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 had been used to film David O. Selnick’s 1943 classic, Duel in the Sun, which starred Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, and Joseph Cotten. It was also used to shoot episodes of Bonanza and The Lone Ranger. At one time actors like Roy Rogers, Tom Mix and Wallace Berry all played cowboys there. In 1948, a dairyman from Pennsylvania named George Spahn bought the land, at that time, westerns were still in demand, so Spahn enjoyed a steady flow of business from Hollywood. But as the popularity of westerns died down, Spahn’s Movie Ranch began to resemble a ghost town.
The Manson Ranch
In the spring of 1968, Charles Manson and the “Manson Family” took residence there, living at the ranch on-and-off in exchange for labor. 80 year old George Spahn, in fragile health and nearly blind, allowed Manson and the family to move onto the ranch rent free in exchange for daily chores and helped run the horse rental business, which had become Spahn’s main source of income.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, August 16, 1969, while most suspects were still asleep, Spahn Ranch was raided by The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department when more than 100 deputies swarmed the ranch shortly after 6:00 AM. Officers searched the buildings while a helicopter monitored from above. At least 26 suspects were arrested at the Spahn Ranch for various charges ranging from Grand Theft Auto, Assault with Deadly Weapon, [one of the suspects reached for a gun during the arrests] and Burglary.
Suspects arrested during the raid, with aliases, listed as in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s report:
Manson, Charles, Milles – Male Caucasian, 34 years, DOB 11/11/34, 5-7, 140 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, woman’s head tattoos on both forearms.
Smith, Richard Allen – male Caucasian, 27 years, DOB 6/20/42, 5-4, 130 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, sailor head tattoo and “US-CG.”
Swartz, John Harold Jr. – male Caucasian, 26 years, DOB 9/29/43, 5-8, 135 lbs., blond hair, blue eyes.
Spahn Ranch Map 22601 Santa Susana Pass Road, close to the ranch.
Pugh, Sandra Collins – female Caucasian, DOB 2/20/44, aka Sandy Good, 5-2, 102 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, throat scar.
Owens, Leslie Sue – female Caucasian, 19 years, DOB 8/23/49, aka Lou, 5-6, 110 lbs., dark brown hair, brown eyes.
Pitman, Nancy Laura – female Caucasian, 18 years, DOB 1/1/51, 5-3, 102 lbs., light brown hair, blue eyes.
Craven, Larry Eugene – male Caucasian, 29 years, DOB 3/20/40, 5-3, 119 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes.
Whyer, Barbara – female Caucasian, 19 years, 3/23/50, 5-5, 120 lbs., dark brown hair, brown eyes.
Matthews, Carol – female Caucasian, 18 years, DOB 11/13/50, 5-4, 115 lbs., brown hair, grn eyes.
Scott, Mary Ann – female Caucasian, 21 years, DOB 12/7/47, 5-6, 12o lbs., brown hair, blue eyes.
Smith, Ruth Ann – female Caucasian, 18 years, DOB 1/6/51, 5-1, 100 lbs., dark brown hair, brown eyes.
Mccoy, Shirley Amanda – female Caucasian, 23 years, DOB 5/27/46, aka “Little Patty”, 5-2, 110 lbs., dark brown hair, grn eyes.
Fromme, Lynn Alice – female Caucasian, 20 years, DOB 10/22/48, 5-4, 115 lbs., red hair, brown eyes.
Flynn, John Leo – male Caucasian, 25 years, DOB 11/9/45, 6-3, 185 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, burn scar on right calf.
Rinehard, Robert Milton – male Caucasian, 29 years, DOB 12/4/39, aka “Bob”, 5-10, 160 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, balding.
Mollan, Grant – male Caucasian, 20 years, DOB 12/10/48, 5-10, 125 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, chipped tooth.
Hanam, David Brian – male Caucasian, blond hair, blue eyes.
Roberts, Julia – female Caucasian, 18 years, DOB 4/4/51, 5-7, 120 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes.
Glutz, Sadie Mae – female Caucasian, 21 years, DOB 5/7/48, 5-5, 120 lbs., dark brown hair, brown eyes.
Heuvelhurst, Ruth Ann – female Caucasian, 20 years, DOB 8/1/49, 5-6, 115 lbs., light brown hair, brown eyes.
Burke, Patricia Anne – female Caucasian, 19 years, DOB 8/1/50, 5-3, 115 lbs., blond hair, blue eyes.
Thompson, Vern Edward – male Caucasian, 20 years, DOB 1/11/49, 5-6, 125 lbs., brown hair, hazel eyes, 1″ scar over right eye.
Jones, Larry – male Caucasian, 19 years, DOB 10/12/49, aka “Little Larry”, 5-7, 125 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes.
James, Catherine Anne – female Caucasian, 26 years, DOB 12/19/42, aka Cathy, 5-5, 125 lbs., black hair, brown eyes.
Drake, Catherine Lynn – female Caucasian, 19 years, DOB 8/4/50, aka Katy, 5-3, 108 lbs., red hair, brown eyes.
Townsend, Herbert Jr. – male Caucasian, 17 years.
To see what the are that used to be Spahn Ranch looks like today, click here.
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