How to visit California's secret, abandoned Nazi compound from WWII


That time Nazi's built a secret lair in California...

Unbeknownst to many, California was once infiltrated by Nazis back in World War II. It didn't take long for the group to be discovered, but it was just long enough for them to have made significant headway on a secret compound in the mountains, a compound that was not only entirely self-sufficient, but was to provide training to Nazi recruits and welcome Hitler himself to the United States. Today, the remains of the WWII Nazi Sympathizer Compound  sit abandoned outside of Los Angeles, and if you're up for an adventure, you can explore them yourself.

The story behind California's secret Nazi compound starts a bit before the second world war, when a widow named Jessie Murphy decided to build an incredible, 22-room mansion way out in the hills of Rustic Canyon. As she made progress on the construction, she had numerous electric generators, a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank, and a 300,000-gallon water tank installed on the property. Once she was in the mansion, it seemed, she didn't want to leave. Unfortunately, a devastating fire destroyed her plans, and in 1938 she abandoned the project for good.

Shortly thereafter, the fire-damaged property had found its way into the hands of Norman and Winonna Stephens, who took it upon themselves to finish the project using Murphy's original blueprints. By 1942, the self-sustaining mansion was completed, and the only thing left to do was fill it with people. Unfortunately, they filled it with Nazis.

As it turns out, sometime during construction, the Stephens had become close to a German by the name of Herr Schmidt. Schmidt had convinced the couple that the United States was doomed to lose the war, and that Hitler's Germany would soon be laying their claim to the Americas. In the meantime, the U.S. would be thrown into such a state of anarchy that only the most self-suffient would survive. Scared and manipulated, the couple accepted plans to turn their mansion property into a Nazi compound that would help pave the way to Adolf Hitler's takeover of America. 

Of course, their plan was doomed to fail, but some nosey neighbors probably helped bring it all crashing down a little sooner. Right around the time that Pearl Harbor was attacked, some of the construction workers putting the finishing touches on the property started to notice an imposing German man training troops in paramilitary outfits. After reporting what he saw to the authorities, Herr Schmidt was covertly monitored by the government and found guilty of sending secret messages to Nazi Germany. Schmidt was arrested, while the Stephens, on the other hand, were considered victims in the case and were let off the hook.

The Nazi compound never did welcome Hitler to California, and today it sits alone, abandoned in the middle of Rustic Canyon. The entrances to secret passageways, never finished, lie scattered throughout the property, some still being discovered by hikers. What's left of the compound, a huge ornate gate, a power builing, and a rusting machine shed, are now overgrown with trees and weeds, but the traces of what once was are everywhere. The compound makes a great day hike for adventurous explorers, and best of all, no fees or permits are required to make the trek. 

The best place to begin your descent into darkness is the corner of Capri Drive and Casale Road in the Pacific Palisades. The crossroads sit at the beginning of the Sullivan Ridge Fire Road, the road that will lead you to the path carved out by the Nazis. 

Josh from California Through My Lens has mapped out some great hiking directions:

After parking you will want to proceed on Sullivan Ridge Road. This will wind down around some beautiful houses before turning to a run down area that you walk through to get to the main dirt road.

Here you will see the yellow road block telling you are entering Topanga Canyon and you will just continue on the dirt  road for about another 3/5ths of a mile. When you get to about the max elevation you will see a beautiful view of the Malibu and Santa Monica coastline to your left and the start of the chain link fence in front of you. About 100 yards from here you will see a cut out in the chain link fence that you can walk through to get to the top of the stairs...

These stairs are not for the faint of heart. They drop 250 feet of elevation in only a hundred yards or so and they seem to just drop off in front of you. Just continue down and you get some cool views of the canyon around you and the overhanging plants that form a tunnel over some parts of the stairs. 

These directions will not only take you down to the ruins of California's abandoned Nazi compound, but loop you back around to your car. It's recommended that you bring a hiking buddy with you, not because it's a particularly dangerous trek, but because it can pretty damn creepy out there by yourself.

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This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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