ARE ATTRACTED TO THIS PLACE"
(excerpt from LA Times)
The story, which Young admits is sketchy, centers on the owners of the Murphy Ranch, Winona and Norman Stephens, and a mysterious but persuasive German named Herr Schmidt. Although county records say that a Jessie M. Murphy purchased the property in 1933, Young said there is no other record of her, and no one in the area ever saw her, leading him to suspect Murphy was a front name. The name Murphy Ranch, however, stuck. Norman Stephens was an engineer with silver mining interests in Colorado, and apparently financed the operation. His wife, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, had a strong belief in metaphysical phenomena, and apparently fell under the spell of Schmidt, who claimed to have supernatural powers. Schmidt convinced the Stephenses that once Europe collapsed and Germany emerged victorious in the war, anarchy would break out across the country, and law and order would break down. His plan was to create a command center in which the National Socialist community would wait out the war. They could then emerge from their mountain retreat and impose order on society. It apparently made sense to the Stephenses, for they proceeded to spend an estimated $4 million to build an infrastructure that would be enough for a small town. They also made plans to build a four-story mansion that were never carried out, probably because they ran out of money, Young said. What they did accomplish, however, is amazing. The entire hillside above the ranch was terraced, and a sprinkler system, complete with timers, was laid out to irrigate the numerous fruit, nut, carob and olive trees and other plants that covered it. Several concrete staircases ascend the hillside, which were either to allow for maintenance of the trees, or more likely, Young believes, to patrol the property. The water tank and the power station, with its double generators, ensured that the community would be self-sufficient. The power station is the only structure basically intact, although the generators were removed and donated to Loyola Marymount University in the early 1970s. The inside walls are covered with graffiti, much of it typical of what one would find in an abandoned building, including, ironically, several swastikas. "I think there are a lot of gangs and skinheads who come here," Young said. "Nuts are attracted to this place."
The only other structure standing on the property is a two-story steel-frame building that was use>