Monterey Trailer Park - A Place in Los Angeles Where Time is Forgotten
12, 2010 by Lisa Newton
And where you’re a million miles
from the city, but still in the city.
It’s located in Highland Park/Hermon
and is the only California trailer park that has historical designated status
in the entire nation.
If you didn’t know it was there,
you’d probably pass right by it leaving it unseen and untouched. The locals
like it that way, By the way, it’s called the Monterey Trailer Park, Los
Angeles’ Historical Cultural Landmark #736, located at 6411 Monterey Rd.
On it sits 1.7 acres of indelible,
beautiful, and unique Los Angeles history.
It’s origins go back to 1923, when
Elmer Drummond, who owned a gas station just down the road, decided to conceive
and build an “auto camp,” which
allowed drivers to stop for the night, in order to get some rest in one of its
10 original buildings or set up their own camp, and then continue on their
A precursor to today’s motels, auto
camps were mainly meant to park automobiles, such as the Model T, which were
equipped with a tent, cooking tools, portable chairs, and adventure.
Some automobile owners viewed
themselves as pioneers and reveled in their ability to camp on the outskirts of
towns, or anywhere along the road. Camping was also inexpensive, and many
vacation destinations offered no other type of accommodation. Source: National Parks
As time passed, “campgrounds” and
the precursor to “modern” motels, starting springing up, thus negating the
value of an auto camp; so the Monterey Auto Camp evolved into the Monterey
Now, once you step onto the road
leading down to the Monterey Park, you’re suddenly surrounded by tall Monterey
pines, Cypress pines, and a pair of California redwoods, to name a few. In
front of you are about 22 RVs, a few dating back to the 1950s, and a couple of
the original buildings used in the auto camp, which have been converted to
private residences, remain intact.
Be that as it may, none of the
one-of-a-kind residences were given the historical designation. That was given
to the Park itself.
What is most surprising about this
story is that the owner of Monterey Park isn’t the person who sought its
historical status. In fact, he opposed it.
Another long term resident, a travel
trailer historian of sorts, who wanted to purchase the Monterey Trailer Park,
failed to secure whatever blessings he needed to achieve his dream. So if he
couldn’t own it, he wanted to make sure that everybody could, so he moved to
have the park designated as a historic landmark–thus tying the hands of the
owner from making any significant changes to the property.
After visiting there and researching
the Park, I can understand the decision. Los Angeles is sometimes joked about
because our “history” is so new, but on the other hand, it’s also quite unique
and the definition of “historic” becomes only one of situational relevancy and
loses its meaning. In other words our history here in Los Angeles, is just as
old to us as the other parts of of the nation that may have colonial roots.
After all, when Travelin’ Local, our
iconic and Southern California archetypes are borne of a fierce independence!