• Topanga is the name given to the area by the Tongva tribe, and may mean "a place above." It was the western border of their territory, abutting the Chumash tribe that occupied the coast from Malibu northwards. Bedrock Mortar and pestlemortars can be found carved into rock outcroppings in many locations. Topanga was settled by Whites beginning in 1839. The first ranch was homesteaded in 1885. In the 1920's, Topanga Canyon became a weekend getaway for Hollywood stars with several cottages built for that purpose. In the 1950s blacklisted actor Will Geer had to sell his large Santa Monica home and move his family to small plot in the canyon where they could grow their own produce. Geer's friend Woody Guthrie had a small shack on the property. They unintentionally founded what became an artists' colony. Today, the Geer family continues to operate Theatricum Botanicum , an outdoor summer theater with performances of Shakespearean classics and contemporary plays. During the 1960's, Topanga Canyon became a magnet to many new artists. In 1965 Wallace Berman settled in the area. A nudist colony, Ed Lange's "Elysium Fields Growth Center" continued to operate in Robinson Canyon off T.C. Bvd. up until this past decade. The swing clubs "Sandstone Ranch I, II, III", the subject of Gay Talese's chronicle of the sexual revolution, Thy Neighbor's Wife, operated on extensive grounds in other side canyons. For a time, Neil Young lived in Topanga, first living with producer David Briggs (producer)David Briggs then later buying his own house. He would record most of his "After the Gold Rush" album in his basement studio in 1970. The Topanga Corral was a nightclub that featured an eclectic mix of performers, including then Topanga locals Canned Heat, Spirit, Little Feat, Spanky and Our Gang, Taj Mahal, Emmylou Harris, Etta James, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and many others. It is rumored that Jim Morrison was inspired to write "Roadhouse Blues" about the drive up Topanga Canyon Blvd to The Corral. Later in the 1970's, after being destroyed by fire and rebuilt, the club featured many up and coming bands from the L.A. punk scene. In 1986, the Corral again burned to the ground and was not rebuilt. Today, many musicians, artists and actors continue to make Topanga their home, including members of Little Feat, Tool, the Foo Fighters, and actors Joshua Jackson, Barry Watson (7th Heaven), and Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty). The local music scene centers on weekend performances at Abuelita's Mexican Restaurant near the center of town on Topanga Canyon Blvd. Current local favorites include the alt-country band "Old Bull", blegrass band Topanga Mountain Tree-O, The Family Rock, singer-songwriters Tim O'Gara, Sondra Bacall, Jesca Hoop, as well as "No Name Band" featuring Richie Hayward (Little Feat), Joe Karnes (Imperial Drag), Eric Lynn, Nick Dias, Robin Moxie and occasionally Steve Mc Cormick. Topanga Days is a three day music and arts festival held every Memorial Day weekend on the grounds of the Topanga Community House. Local and national acts perform and a slightly "off the wall' parade is held on Memorial Day. The parade is said to have inspired the more famous Doo-Dah Parade in Pasadena. Members of Charles Manson's "family" began their campaign of murder on July 31, 1969 with the torture and murder of Topanga resident Gary Hinman, a music teacher who had opened his home to anyone needing shelter. The Manson family at the time was living in Chatsworth, about 20 miles north of Topanga, but Manson had previously been living in Topanga where he had briefly befriended both Neil Young and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys. Due to its location in the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga is a favorite spot for hikers, as well as bicycle, and motorcycle riders/racers. Many movie/TV car/bike chases were filmed on the winding road with the picturesque cliffs in the background. Topanga State Park is one of the largest urban preserves in the world. The thick vegetation, steep terrain and frequent (and dry) Santa Ana winds combine to make Topanga an extreme fire danger. The Old Topanga Fire began on November 2 1993. Within an hour it was already burning 1,000 acres (4 km sq). It resulted in the largest mobilization of emergency resources in a twenty-four hour period in California history. By the time it was extinguished ten days later 16,516 acres (67nbsp;km sq) of watershed and at least 388 structures were burned in Topanga and adjoining areas. In 2005, a fire referred to as the "Topanga Fire" burned in Chatsworth and points south and west of Chatsworth. This fire did not burn any areas in Topanga Canyon, but was named due to its origin near Topanga Canyon Blvd. at CA-118 in Chatsworth. Topanga Creek causes occasional flooding and extensive road erosion requiring the closure of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. In 1980, severe flooding washed out large sections of the road at the bottom of the "s" curves. Traffic was severely restricted during the six months of repairs. However, the heavy rains also produced beautiful waterfalls on the mountains east of the creek for a few months. Source:
  • Topanga is a 170-year old community located in Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Canyon itself was carved by Topanga Creek and its many tributaries, starting 9.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Topanga's Summit. It is geographically defined as a Coastal Watershed/Topanga Creek Watershed and is the third largest watershed in the Santa Monica Mountains, emptying into Santa Monica Bay at Topanga Beach, just south of Malibu. Its aboriginal history dates back to two specific tribes, the Chumash (Coastal), and the Gabriellenos (Valley), who traded in Topanga before, with the rest of Southern California, they were replaced by the Spanish with their land grants, and migrating U.S. citizens settling and farming and ranching the land. Topanga starts at the junction of Pacific Coast Highway and Topanga Canyon Blvd (State Route 27), which was named for the Canyon it traverses, eventually ending at the North end of the San Fernando Valley and the 118 Freeway,geographically at the north-western top of the L.A. River Watershed. Despite being so close to the urbanized City of Los Angeles which surrounds this rural enclave on 2 sides (S.F.Valley to the north, Pacific Palisades to the East), Topanga has managed to maintain its woodsy environment and cultivate respect for its natural surroundings, generation after generation, thus managing to keep upwards of 80% of the entire watershed in open space, much of that public lands, like Topanga State Park, Summit Valley/Edelman Park, Lower Topanga State Park, Red Rock Park, Zuniga, Tuna, the list goes on. Community volunteer organizations and schools, such as the Topanga Town Council, Topanga Chamber of Commerce, Topanga Association for as Scenic Community, Topanga Historical Society, Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness, Topana Canyon Gallery, Topanga Community Club/Topanga Community House, Topanga Peace Alliance, Topanga Elementary School, Topanga Co-op Preschool, and its own 30+ year old newspaper, the Topanga Messenger, continue to form the underlying fabric of this unique place in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains.

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