Historic Place of the Month - April 2012

Aprilís Historic Place of the Month was:

Old Topanga Canyon Road

Old Topanga Canyon Road has a long rich history. With the close proximity of El Camino Real and later Highway 101, Calabasas had access to a major north-south transportation route from the late 1700s. What it did not have until after U.S. statehood was access to the Pacific Ocean. Access came in the form of a stagecoach trail linking Calabasas to the waterfront. It was forged through the mountainous area to the cityís south and became known as Old Topanga Canyon Road. The trail was formed circa 1865 and led from Calabasas to the beach just north of Pacific Palisades. It became an important link between the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica in 1893, when the Long Wharf, part of the original Port of Los Angeles, was built. Old Topanga Canyon Road provided a vital route across the Santa Monica Mountains from the wharf to Calabasas. The Port of Los Angeles was relocated in San Pedro only a few years later in 1897, but the wharf continued to operate until 1903.

Many of the early Calabasas homesteaders built houses along Old Topanga Canyon Road. They have all been demolished with the exception of the Masson House at 23075 Mulholland Highway, where Mulholland intersects with Old Topanga Canyon. Residential development occurred little by little through the early 20th century along the route. Houses tended to be relatively small and vernacular in style with gabled roofs and wood siding. The few that remain have been expanded upon.

Old Topanga Canyon Road evolved into a paved road sometime after 1932. Prior to being paved, it was oiled to suppress dust. The southern portion of the original trail and road, which is not within Calabasas city limits, is now part of State Route (SR) 27, Topanga Canyon Boulevard. SR 27 dates back to 1915 and became part of the state highways system in 1933. Old Topanga Canyon Road is often confused with SR 27, but SR 27 does not cross into Calabasas; rather, it extends from Old Topanga Canyon Road in the community of Topanga to the east and north into the neighboring community of Woodland Hills and beyond. Today, Old Topanga Canyon Road extends from its intersection with SR 27 to the north and west into Calabasas where it crosses Mulholland Highway and becomes Valmar Road. Despite its narrow, winding design, it remains a significant route between Calabasas and the ocean. Old Topanga Canyon Road was designated as Local Historic Landmark No. 4 and is eligible for the National register of Historic Places.

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