These photos are from my second visit to Peter Strauss Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. I was assisting Aaron Davis, an archaeological technician here at SAMO. We were collecting data on the historical, built environments which date as far back as 1923. I am glad to be able to utilize GIS on a daily basis to create maps in order to use out on the field for the next site visit.
According to the National Park Service Cultural Landscape Inventory, Harry Miller, a pioneer in automotive engineering, occupied the ranch from 1923 to 1933. During Miller’s decade at Peter Strauss Ranch, he constructed a retreat home, radio house, gate tower and aviary. Miller went bankrupt in 1933 and lost the property he had developed. Warren Shobert and Arthur Edeson were two entrepreneurs who purchased the property after Miller’s bankruptcy. In 1938, Shobert and Edeson began constructing one of the first theme parks in the region. Lake Enchanto opened in 1939 and included a swimming pool, stone amphitheater, fairy tale wall, dance floor, petting zoo, amusement rides and other recreational amenities. Lake Enchanto eventually closed in 1965 due to competition from Disneyland and Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica. In 1976, actor Peter Strauss filmed a mini series called “Rich Man, Poor Man” in Malibu Lake. Strauss purchased the property where he lived until 1983 before selling it to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. In 1987, the National Park Service purchased the property and incorporated it into the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.