TOWSLEY CANYON/FRANK LASALLE RANCH
Frank LaSalle, a French emigrant, purchased the land at the eastern entrance to Towsley Canyon and Wiley Canyon sometime between 1903 and 1910. Just west of the western portion of his property, a cabin was situated (on Chevron property). This was an actual building (see image below). Between the cabin and the future western town was a corral. This cabin and surrounding area appeared in films up to at least 1939. From 1933 to 1935, a small western town was erected a little east of the cabin area, at the approximate location of the upper Towsley Canyon paid parking area and the nature center. This western town was moved from the Jones Ranch in Placerita Canyon by Harry S. Webb, a B-Western pro-ducer. The town was probably removed in late 1935.
The buildings on the right in the above screen capture
were located where the current upper parking lot is found in the canyon, near the visitor center.
Darius Towsley apparently skimmed and drilled for oil in the canyon. On June 24, 1865, his claim to the canyon was confirmed by the San Fernando Petroleum District. Towsley later sold the property to Pacific Coast Oil, the forerunner of Standard Oil (now Chevron). Around 1931, Oliver Hawes moved in and made a meager living by stripping the old wells. The wells were mostly located south of the area now known as the Narrows. The Narrows is a canyon area with almost verti-cal walls and was used quite often by film companies in the 1930's. Before enter-ing the Narrows from the east end, during the silent days, there was a small western town. Just outside the south side of the Narrows, there was a large cabin and outbuilding which was used since the silent days into at least the 1930's. Some of these buildings may have been actual structures built by the oil company for their employees. A prominent feature of the Narrows was a hole-in-the-wall at the south entrance. Some time since the mid-1950's, it was removed, whether by natural causes or through destruction by man, along with a small portion of the cliff side. The rumble now sits where the cabin used to be.
In December 1989, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy purchased 145 acres at the mouth of Towsley Canyon from the Rivendale Ranch Company for $500,000. In April 1991, the Conservancy purchased an additional 453 acres in Towsley Canyon consisting of two parcels of land for $6.5 million. This land was also owned by Rivendale. In October 1992, Towsley Canyon Park was renamed "Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon". Further land was purchased from Chevron Oil which included this canyon as well as many neighboring canyons.
THE NARROWS ON FILM:
DIRECTIONS: From Los Angeles, take Interstate 5 north. Exit at Calgrove and head west. Turn left (south) at The Old Road. Enter the Ed Davis Park. This is in Towsley Canyon.
"Phantom of the Desert" (Syndicate 1930) Directed by: Harry S. Webb. Cast: Jack Perrin, Eva Novak, Josef Swickard, Lila Eccles, Ben Corbett.
"Trouble Busters" (Majestic 1933) Directed by: Lewis D. Collins. Cast: Jack Hoxie, Lane Chandler, Kaye Edwards, Harry Todd, Ben Corbett.
"Terror of the Plains" (Reliable 1934) Directed by: Harry S. Webb. Cast: Tom Tyler, Roberta Gale, William Gould, Slim Whitaker.
"The Rawhide Terror" (Syndicate 1934) Directed by: Bruce M. Mitchell & Jack Nelson. Cast: Art Mix, Edmund Cobb, William Desmond, William Barrymore.
"Rio Rattler" (Commodore 1935) Directed by: Bernard B. Ray. Cast: Tom Tyler, Eddie Gribbon, Marion Shilling, William Gould, Tom London, Slim Whitaker.
"Days of Jesse James" (Republic 1939) Directed by: Joseph Kane. Cast: Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes, Don Barry, Pauline Moore, Harry Wood, Arthur Loft.
"Last Stagecoach West" (Ventura/Republic 1957) Directed by: Joseph Kane. Cast: Jim Davis, Mary Castle, Victor Jory, Lee Van Cleef, Grant Withers, Roy Barcroft, John Alderson, Glenn Strange, Francis McDonald, Willis Bouchey, Lewis Martin, Tris Coffin.