Monday, July 16, 2018

Tie Dyed Topanga Canyon...1964

by Steven Lane (writer), Simi valley, Ca and Austin, Tx., December 17, 2006


My right front tire caught the gravel and suddenly my old car had gobbled up a whole mailbox, post and all. That tin post box belonged to a small Topanga Canyon establishment with the quizzical name "The Outside Inn".
Topanga Canyon in the sixties was certainly known for it's colorful alternative lifestyles but I was just a sixteen year old kid driving up to see his girlfriend.
Now some forty years later, I can still put a face on some of those "semi-forgotten" landmarks that dotted that rope of winding asphalt from the San Fernando Valley to the Beach.
Down toward the beach side of the Canyon was Camp Wildwood. There were about ten little wooden cabins for rent with a pool right next to the Topanga Creek. Fifty cents would buy you the right to lay out with your girl for the whole day. I believe, the remains of the cabins are still there today.
The nudist colony, Elysium Fields (or Elysian fields, depending on to whom you are talking to), was a short drive up the hill. It was established in 1965 and despite repeated attempts by officials to close it down over the years, one could still get nekkid as late as 2001 0r 2002.
Keep driving toward the Valley and you would find the above mentioned "Outside Inn". Straight out of a cheap horror movie, this two story house/candy shop was spackled into the middle of a canyon curve. Upon entry, one of those little brass bells attached to the door would jangle. Soon, a gnarled, "I swear he was seven feet tall", old man would slowly appear from upstairs and take your nickles. The second floor was the subject of many theories and discussions.
Go about three more miles up the road and you would pass by the last home of the Topanga Corral. The Doors supposedly wrote "Roadhouse Blues" with the Corral in mind. Canned Heat and Spirit were among the many bands that played there. Even Charlie Manson and his group "The Milky Way" did a weekend gig there before getting fired. "Too many potheads, not enough beer drinkers" was the supposed reason given for the quick exit.
Just a few miles more and you are at the Top of Topanga. Park your ride, get out the blanket, turn on the tunes. You can't beat the view and hey, who knows, you might get lucky!

About the Writer

Steven Lane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Tie Dyed Topanga Canyon...1964

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By Lisa Norris on December 17, 2006 at 03:43 pm
I love the cool history about this place. Good Job!
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By V on December 18, 2006 at 01:28 pm
I spend every Sunday morning in winter hiking through Topanga Canyon. I can hardly believe that only twenty minutes from where I live, I can feel like I am a million miles away from anywhere. And on a clear day, from my perch on the highest rock, I can see the ocean. The tie-dyed senior citizens still abound, but now too there is a young generation of modern hippies, setting up shack all through the hills. I love it up there very much, but I'd love to be able to have seen it back when.
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