Many (many) years ago, I attended a Summer Camp in this place. We climbed the mountain you see at the opening of MASH, saw a scene of MASH filmed and best of all, we climbed through Ape City where the Apes had discovered that Taylor could talk.
Sad to see it go up in flames…
The steep craggy mountains and gorges below ordinarily attract groups of tourists, hikers, and campers to the area, but on Saturday the ground here was still smoldering, charred into a black crumble.
Wildfires decimated the historic park tucked inside the Santa Monica Mountains a day earlier — taking with it markers of its proud past as a backdrop for television shows and movies such as “Planet of the Apes.”
Flames consumed the set of the long-running TV series “MASH.” The same went for the Reagan Ranch, named after the former president and actor who used to own one of three parcels that comprise the 44-year-old park’s footprint along with Bob Hope and 20th Century Fox.
“I was just showing a group of visitors from Russia Tarzan’s rock pool,” said Tim Johnston, 83, a retired Los Angeles firefighter and park docent who was astonished by the damage he saw Saturday. “People don’t realize they’ve been watching movies all their lives that took place here. Their mom’s been watching all her life. Even their grandma has been watching all her life.”
All across the Santa Monica Mountains, the devastating Woolsey fire exacted both a psychic and physical toll on local history and connections to an unlikely stretch of wilderness that — through dogged conservation — persists despite the surrounding urban sprawl.
The Santa Monica Mountains, which stretch from Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu in Ventura County, have long offered Southern Californians a respite from the city below with the range’s array of hiking trails, waterfalls and rock pools. And its sprawling ranch land has given Hollywood real-world ties to the frontier life it exhaustively depicted on screen.
The powerful group has also advocated against too much residential development. Last year, Edmiston called for the limiting of recovery funds for rebuilding homes in fire-prone areas. (Anyone who thinks it’s easy to build a new house in the mountains should consider the plight of U2 guitarist David Evans, a.k.a. the Edge, who has been trying since 2005 to erect his dream home on a barren vista called Seawater Mesa.)
Many of the residents in the mountains also own horses and other animals. For feed, they’ve come to rely on the West Valley Horse Center in Agoura Hills, which had been run for decades by sometime Hollywood stunt rider Buck Wicall, who died in June at 83.
The store is now operated by Wicall’s daughter, Adrienne Manhan, and her husband, David Manhan. They still don’t own a computer. All records are kept with ink and paper. Wall space is covered in framed photos of Wicall’s friends: Ronald Reagan, Gene Autry and Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger.
“When we evacuated the other night, we all did it together,” said Adrienne Manhan, 60. “There’s a small-town feeling to this place.”
David Manhan, who is also a movie set designer, says the allure of the Santa Monica Mountains is unmistakable.