When a young man in his teens, about 1892, Homer Hansen roamed theCountryside, camped in the Big Tujunga Canyon under the oaks and spruce, and as a result of his visits, found in Big Tujunga Canyon the pace he most wanted to stay. After Studying medicine in the East, he returned to the Big Tujunga as Doctor Homer A. Hansen, a man suffering from acute inflammatory rheumatism. He was told he had less than a year to live.
Hansen went into the canyon to live out the end o his life, but in about a year found that he had fully recovered. In 1909, he filed a homestead claim of 93 acres below the present Big Tujunga Dam and built his cabin there.
Doctor Hansen seems to have had a medical practice of sort. He met a fellow named Silas Hoty and Silas’ big horse Beelzebub. Silas and Beelzebub had been toting in whole logs for burning in the fireplace of his windowless cabin. Uncut, which stuck out the front door.
The constant smoke irritation nearly ruined Hoyt’s eyes. That, and the eyebrows that curled into his eyes and onto his cheeks were a serious threat to his sight. Dr. Hansen prepared an eye wash for Silas and trimmed the brows. He was probably better in no time.
A few years late, after more and more visitors began coming into the Canyons, Hansen built a two-story guest lodge with stables, a pool and cabins. There he entertained celebrities, U.S. Senators, L.A. Supervisors, and even the fames lawyer Clarence Darrow, all of whom used the lodge as a week-end retreat. Homer Hansen suffered the same disasters as all the early settlers in this area. Roads were often washed out and it was a chore to keep them open. The flood of 1926 washed away his lodge. He rebuilt, only to lose again in the flood of 1938. Everything was swept away except the stone fireplaces, which were removed in 1968.
The Western portion of Rancho Tujunga, Hansen Heights (Shadow Hills) was surveyed in 1907and platted by Homer A. Hansen who named streets after members of his family.
There was a picturesque landmark in the valley called “Hansen Knoll”, a “land island” bulging out of the flat, brush-covered area…The knoll has been the home for many years of Dr. Homer Hansen”, It was at that site that the dam we now see, named after Home Hansen, was built. (Glendale News Press editorial September 1938)
In the file folder labeled “Hansen” at the museum there are two Photographs, a few clippings, and a small white envelope. Inside the envelope are Some springs of dry maidenhair fern.
Homer Hansen married Marie A. Huber in 1920. The site chosen was a place of natural beauty. A cover on whose walls and roof grew a mass of maidenhair ferns. All guests, clery and the Birthday party were all on horseback. Who knows when Homer found that cave and what dreams he may have dreamed there? How delightful that his new wife could appreciate the beauty of the Big Tujunga as much as did her husband.
In a interview of Mrs. Marie Hansen by Sarah Lombard several years ago, Marie remembers: “There were 28 people in the party, all mounted. Since Dr. Hansen did not own 28 saddle horses, he had rented some from the studios.
One horse had been trained to lay down when touched at the shoulder with a heel. So when one of the women accidentally touched the horse…he promptly lay down in the middle of the stream. His rider had to dismount, wade to the bank.. “ The lady remounted and the wedding party went merrily on its way. On the way back to the Lodge for the wedding breakfast some of the horses took advantage of the Inexperienced riders and started running. One horse stopped quickly and sent his rider into the sandbank head first. What a morning!
The cave, about 3 miles above the Big Tujunga dam site, was destroyed when The Big Tujunga Dam was built, about 1931, and is now under water.
The teen-aged wanderer of the Big Tujunga Canyon so many years ago most likely would never have guessed what would have happened nor in these years after. That severely ill young doctor who had one year to live would have been amazed to see the changes in the canyons and on the ranch lands.
For information about the history of this area, visit the Bolton Hall gift shop and book store.
Editor’s Note: Marlene Hitt is a former Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, Director of Bolton Hall Museum, Historic Preservation Board Member on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and selected “Woman of the Year” by Congressman Adam Schiff.