Creepy western themed statues that were once part of the Old Trapper’s Lodge Motel in Burbank, now sit hidden behind a chicken coop at Pierce College. Yep, its not Knott’s.
Former tracker John Ehn opened a motel in Burbank in 1941 called “The Old Trapper’s Lodge.” Filling it with western memorabilia, weapons and other knick-knacks he hoped to attract tourists with a slick gimmick. When that failed, he tried another approach.
He hired sculptor Claude Bell of Cabazon Dinosaur and Knott’s Berry Farm fame to make him a few statues that he thought would finally attract the tourists he needed to fill his motel. After observing Bell’s technique, he decided he could easily finish the job himself. For the next 30 years, he filled it with cowboys, Indians, miners, saloon girls and an entire cemetery scene depicting his version of a “Boot Hill.”
This sculpture shows Peg Leg Smith squaring off with Big Bear, a Native American. Looks like BB is winning this fight.
Bringing some fun to these lonely folks.
It’s fairly obvious that John Ehn didn’t possess the same sculpting skills as Claude Bell. His proportions here in “The Fight” are pretty hysterical. Unless his models were oversized dwarfs, I think it’s safe to assume that this scene was probably one of his first to sculpt on his own.
Nice teeth. I think Big Bear might of been a vampire.
The faces along the bottom of some of his bigger statues are extremely creepy.
Oh look, it’s Donald Sterling.
So that’s why they call them Redskins.
“Old Trapper” was the pseudonym John chose to sign his artwork with.
He called this next one “KIDNAP”.
Kidnapping is so sexy when the victim isn’t a kid…NOT!
Signed, sealed, delivered. A pioneer and a hunter.
Guess they ran out of dirt for this guy.
Pioneer Women are serious women.
Child Protection Services
Hmmm, these ladies sure look familiar…
…Claude Bell’s creations always looked more realistic at Knott’s when I was a kid [damn that kid’s cute].
What up ladies? I’m all grown up now.
They sure look like they’re in the mood to party, especially that one-armed hussy on the left.
The Old Trapper’s Lodge became California Historical Landmark Number 939 in 1985. Around that same time, the land the motel was on had been sold to the nearby Burbank airport. The motel was eventually torn down, but luckily most of the statues were saved and transferred to Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Apparently, an unknown fan of the statues made a phone call to nearby Pierce College. Somehow, he or she persuaded a decision-maker at the school to “adopt” the statues.
You can find them near the western edge of Pierce College campus, just east of the stables and behind these chicken coops, in a stand of trees west of the parking lot on the north side of El Rancho Drive.