Nestled in the heart of Woodland Hills, California, the Old Trapper’s Lodge stands as a testament to the enduring fascination with the Old West. This unique folk-art setting, crafted by the skilled hands of John Ehn, invites visitors to step into a world steeped in the rich traditions of the American frontier. In this article, we explore the history, significance, and efforts to preserve the legacy of the Old Trapper’s Lodge.

The Art of the Old West

John Ehn, a former trapper hailing from Michigan, brought his passion for the Old West to Southern California in the early 1940s. He was not only a real mountain man but also a masterful spinner of tales. Employed by the state for two decades, Ehn’s enduring love for Old West history found its artistic outlet in the form of goggle-eyed statues depicting California pioneers. Over the course of 30 years, Ehn created a diverse array of sculptures inspired by his family, which were proudly displayed in his motel, aptly named The Old Trapper’s Lodge.

The Move to Pierce College

As time went on, many of Ehn’s sculptures found a new home at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. These statues served as a commemoration of his family, a move that wasn’t initially made public by the college. Regrettably, this relocation was in violation of the agreement in effect at the time of purchase.

The sculptures faced the imminent threat of destruction, prompting the Ehn family to take action. They offered the artwork on a long-term loan and sought assistance from the California State Historical Resources Commission. While the Commission was willing to help, finding a more suitable location for the artwork proved to be a challenging endeavor.

Historical Landmark Status

In recognition of its cultural significance, the State of California designated the Old Trapper’s Lodge as a California State Historical Landmark in 1985. This designation underscores the lodge’s unique place in American history and culture. Several generations of the Ehn family have visited the site, further cementing their role as integral contributors to the lodge’s rich history.

Preservation Efforts

SPACES (Saving and Preserving the Arts and Cultural Spaces) has taken up the mantle of preserving the legacy of the Old Trapper’s Lodge. In collaboration with Ehn family members, smaller pieces of art have been relocated to museums, and efforts are underway to find a suitable location for the larger sculptures. The goal of SPACES is to protect California’s rich cultural history, ensuring that the Old Trapper’s Lodge remains a cherished piece of the state’s heritage.

To learn more about the past and present of the Old Trapper’s Lodge, you can visit SPACES’ website, which offers a treasure trove of information about this remarkable site and the artistic legacy it represents.

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