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John Ehn, Old Trapper’s Lodge

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  • Location:

    Los Angeles, California, USA (Map)

  • Status:

    Relocated (incl. Museums)

  • Artist:
  • Built:

    circa 1951-1981

  • Materials:

    concrete, paint

Visiting Information

Old Trapper’s Lodge was named a California State Historical Landmark in 1981, the year John Ehn died. In the mid-1980s, to ensure the continued maintenance of his monumental sculptures, several were relocated to the grounds of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, where they are available for public viewing. A number of smaller sculptural works can also be seen at the Oakland Museum of California.

 

About the Artist/Site

Johan Henry (“John”) was born in Violet, a temporary lodging camp near Gould City, Michigan. His ancestors were Finish and Swedish immigrants who worked in the United States as lumbermen, farmers, and commercial fishers. Ehn married in 1921 and worked for the State of Michigan’s Field and Game Department as a game warden. He then moved with his family to Florida; for five years he trapped alligators and snakes, inspiring him to write and to publish How to Snare: The Best Kept Secrets of Trapper John, a series of ten correspondence courses. Ehn would continue to mail his courses, along with scents and trapping supplies, until his death.

In 1940, a spinal inflammation forced Ehn to give up trapping. He moved with his family to Roscoe in Southern California and opened a motel. He later named the property to reflect his former occupation, and dressed the part, wearing Western clothes and sporting a goatee and pierced ears.

After watching sculptor Claude Bell at work at Knott’s Berry Farm, a Buena Park, California theme park, Ehn hired the artist in 1951 to portray him as a trapper in a giant concrete sculpture. After three days, Ehn felt he had learned all the techniques he needed to work alone. Working in the front yard of his motel, he began building a series of sculptures he later called “Boot Hill Cemetery.” Each sculpture began with a strong wire armature he covered with cement, often adding a final application of brightly colored paint.

For the next fifteen years, Ehn constructed the cemetery figures and another series he called the “Old West Mooseum.” A friend occasionally helped with signage, but Ehn built the sculptures alone. His “Boot Hill Cemetery” was intended as a family memorial: he built the faces of his statues around life masks he made of family members. The characters they portrayed were from favorite folksongs and stories. A tombstone epitaph described the alleged demise of each sculpted character.

Ehn also decorated the walls of his motel with a collection of animal skins, tools, and other memorabilia he’d accumulated over a lifetime. His office was filled with trapping paraphernalia, guns, and photomontages.

Old Trapper’s Lodge was named a California State Historical Landmark in 1981, the year John Ehn died. In the mid-1980s, to ensure the continued maintenance of his monumental sculptures, several were relocated to the grounds of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, where they are available for public viewing.

~Seymour Rosen/Jo Farb Hernández

SPACES Archive Holdings

Collection size: 2.2 linear feet (1975- )

Appraisal (1986)
Correspondence
Ephemera
Clippings
Pamphlets
Maps
Photographic prints, slides, negatives (approx. 900)



Related Documents

brief bio of John Ehn

timeline for John Ehn and Old Trapper’s Lodge

Letter to La Haye Bronze from Sandra J. Elder, CA State Historical Resources Commission, 1/25/1985

brief timeline of John Ehn

brief bio of John Ehn

Description of John Ehn’s Old Trapper’s Lodge

diagram of John Ehn’s boothill, 1985

Letter to Councilman Joel Wachs, LA City Hall from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 12/5/1987

contract for Pacific Arts Publishing/Overview, 10/24/1986

Letter to County Fair from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 1/26/1988

Questions about John Ehn

various info about John Ehn and Old Trapper’s Lodge

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Warren D. Thomas, LA Zoo, 2/17/1988

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Robin S. Hall, Knott’s Berry Farm, 2/23/1988

Letter to Lorraine Phillips from Kim Kralj, Double KK Gallery, 8/7/1989

detailed list of John Ehn statuary

Letter to RoseMarie Farish from Larry Whiteley, Whiteley Gallery, 5/22/1986

inventory list of John Ehn statuary

Letter to Jim Jenkins, Cal State Fullerton from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/8/1988

Request for Historic-Cultural Monument Declaration

How a property becomes an historic-cultural monument, 1984

Copy of John Ehn statement

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 5/18/1983

info about SPACES

Letter to John Ehn from SPACES/Susan Alderson Hoffman, 5/20/1981

Letter to Rosemarie (Farish?) from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 11/1985

business card for Old Trapper’s Lodge

business card for Anne Dunn

notes about Old Trapper’s Lodge contact

Lining Showcase pricing, 7/1/1984

Letter to Elsie Gildersleeve, Greater Burbank Vistor’s Guide from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/15/1986

Environment Field Survey Form for Old Trapper’s Lodge

Restoration info for Old Trapper’s Lodge

business card for Rosemarie Farish

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 5/29/1987

Old Trapper Update, 5/13/1987

list of contacts for boothill, 6/17/1987

Letter to Steven K Messerli, Regional Parks Dept from Ehn Trust, 9/10/1986

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Ed Lohr/Carnevale and Lohr., Inc, 6/2/1987

notes for conversation between Stanley Pearson, R. Vacar, and Attorney Garcin, 6/27/1986

various info about John Ehn and Old Trapper’s Lodge

John Ehn Preservation Project, 1987

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Clifford B. Ehn

copies of various business cards

Application for Inspection

note about John Ehn

Reconciliation of inventories and photo books

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 7/21/1990

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 4/6/1992

Ehn Trust Letter of Agreement

SPACES Newsletter, 1987

press release for Wall of Voodoo Bows First Video in Three Years, 10/14/1985

Donation or loan of Educational Materials, 4/20/1988

Letter to Pierce College from The Ehn Family

Letter to The Ehn Family from David Wolf, LA Pierce College, 5/31/1988

Letter to David Czamanke, LA Community College from Rosemarie Farish, 6/9/1988

Board Item

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Daniel G. Means/ Pierce College, 6/12/1989

Letter to The Ehn Family from David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges, 6/29/1988

Letter to Pierce College from The Ehn Family, 5/2/1988

Letter to Ehn Trust from Harold W. Garvin, LA Community Colleges, 7/20/1988

Letter to Tex Shannon, Pierce College from Jack H. Wakayama, Office of the State Architect, 11/21/1988

Letter to David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges from Lorraine Phillips, 12/10/1988

Letter to Ehn Trust from Harold W. Garvin, LA Community Colleges, 1/11/1989

Letter to Ehn Trust from David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges, 1/18/1989

Agreement between The Ehn Trust and LA Community College District, 1/25/1989

Agreement between The Ehn Trust and LA Community College District, 2/16/1989

Letter to The Ehn Trust from David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges, 2/22/1989

Letter to David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges from Lorraine Phillips and Rosemarie Farish

Letter to David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges from Lorraine Phillips, 4/1/1990

Authorize agreement for construction of donated building at Pierce College

Authorize acceptance of completion of construction contract, 7/6/1988

Authorize renewal of maintenance agreement, 4/4/1990

certification, 4/9/1990

Letter to Ehn Trust from David Czamanske, LA Community Colleges, 4/12/1990

Letter to Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 10/28/2000

Interview with Rosemarie Farish, 8/19/1985

Biography of John Ehn, 3/1989

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Jo Farb Hernandez, 10/15/1993

press release for MPMA Director to leave museum, 1993

Letter to Ehn Family Trust from Philip E. Linhares, Oakland Museum Art Dept, 6/15/1994

Letter to Lorraine Phillips, Clifford Ehn, and Rosemarie Farish from Jack A. Rameson, III/Rehwald Rameson Lewis & Wood, 3/31/1992

Fax to Lorraine Phillips from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 4/7/1992

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery of American Folk Art, 10/11/1991

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery of American Folk Art, 6/13/1991

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 1/20/1993

directions to Old Trapper’s Lodge

list of John Ehn sculptures

Agreement for Ehn Trust, 10/1992

Letter to Di Adams from AAM Government Affairs, 10/14/1991

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/8/1993

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 2/25/1992

list of John Ehn sculptures

list of John Ehn sculptures

list of John Ehn sculptures

description of Shelter and various writers, 4/9/1991

list of John Ehn sculptures

Letter to Judith Chiba Smith, Museum of International Folk Art from Ehn Family Trust, 10/1993

Letter to Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, National Museum of American Art from Ehn Family Trust, 10/1993

Letter to Jo Farb Hernandez, Monterey Peninsula Museum from Ehn Family Trust, 10/1993

Letter to Ruth DeYoung Kohler, John Michael Kohler Art Center from Ehn Family Trust, 10/1993

Letter to Philip E. Linhares from Ehn Family Trust, 10/1993

draft of letter of agreement

list of John Ehn sculptures, 5/25/1993

Gift Agreement, 6/15/1994

Letter to Phil Linhares, Oakland Museum from Ehn Family Trust, 6/9/1994

Disposition of John Ehn Art Works

Disposition of John Ehn Art Works

Loan Agreement, 7/6/1995

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Judith Chiba Smith, Museum of New Mexico, 2/21/1994

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, National Museum of American Art, 5/11/1995

John Ehn Collection Description, 10/17/1993

Letter to Steve Brezzo, San Diego Museum of Art from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 1/25/1995

Report and Appraisals of John Ehn Collection, 6/21/1993

Record of John Ehn’s guns, 4/11/1965

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Jo Farb Hernandez/ Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, 1/20/1994

note about distribution of Ehn sculptures

Letter from the Ehn Trust, 4/26/1993

draft of Letter from the Ehn Family Trust

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Anne Washburn, The Ames Gallery of American Folk Art

invoice 1992/1993

notes about John Ehn sculpture inventory

Appraisal of “O.T.” John Ehn Collection for Ehn Family, 1993

invoice 7/29/1993

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Jo Farb Hernandez, 2/2/1994

Letter to Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, National Museum of American Art from Ehn Family Trust, 1/24/1994

card to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Rosemarie Farish, 11/1994

business card for Rosemarie Farish

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Rosemarie Farish, 10/24/1994

Letter to Rosemary (Rosemarie) Farish from Ruth DeYoung Kohler, Kohler Foundation, Inc, 10/10/1994

John Ehn Collection Acquisition and Preservation Agreement

list of various John Ehn sculptures

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from John Michael Kohler, Kohler Arts Center, 7/27/1993

Fax to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Ruth DeYoung Kohler, 2/25/1994

Letter to Ruth DeYoung Kohler, John Michael Kohler Art Center from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 4/26/1993

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Philip E. Linhares, Oakland Museum of Art, 6/15/1994

John Ehn Collection Acquisition and Preservation Agreement, 10/28/1994

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Philip E. Linhares, Oakland Museum of Art, 12/30/1993

to do list for distribution of John Ehn sculptures

Letter to Rosemarie Farish from Philip E. Linhares, Oakland Museum of Art, 12/29/1993

Disposition of Ehn Collection

Letter to Phil Linhares, Oakland Museum from Ehn Family Trust, 5/23/1994

Letter to Ruth DeYoung Kohler, John Michael Kohler Art Center from Ehn Family Trust, 5/23/1994

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Philip E. Linhares, Oakland Museum of Art, 5/13/1993

diagram of Old Trapper’s Lodge

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen, Rosemarie Farish and Lorraine Phillips from Clifford Ehn, 3/6/1993

Letter to Rosemarie Farish, Ehn Family Trust from Sandra J. Elder/CA Dept of Parks and Rec, 8/26/1988

list of John Ehn sculptures

Letter to Allen from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 5/5/1992

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Barbara Pallenburg, Sotheby’s, 6/26/1984

letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Don (Howlett?)

info about repainting Old Trapper’s Lodge

Howlett survey of Old Trapper’s Lodge, 1999

Letter to La Haye Bronze from Sandra J. Elder, CA State Historical Resources Commission, 1/25/1985

Minutes of the State Historical Resources Commission, 2/1/1985

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Sandra J. Elder, CA State Historical Resources Commission, 12/11/1984

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Sandra J. Elder, CA State Historical Resources Commission, 1/2/1985

Letter to Sandra J. Elder, CA Dept of Parks and Rec from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 9/19/1984

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Rosemarie Farish, 8/22/1984

CA Historical Resources Committee Agenda, 11/2/1984

CA Historical Resources Committee Agenda, 5/11/1984

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Sandra J. Elder, CA State Historical Resources Commission, 2/23/1984

Letter to Knox Mellon, CA office of Historic Preservation from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 12/23/1983

Letter to Marion Mitchell-Wilson, CA Dept of Parks and Rec from SPACES/Seymour Rosen and Jocelyn Fisher, 5/3/1985

partial list of CA sites, 1/7/1992

list of self taught artists, 12/16/1991

note about John Ehn, 8/30/1985

death certificate for John Ehn, 9/6/1985

various notes about John Ehn

brief bio of John Ehn

timeline of John Ehn’s life, 3/1989

brief history of John and Mary Ehn

flyer for dedication of ceremony for Old Trapper’s Lodge, 3/25/1985

list of boothill statues

Old Trapper’s Lodge souvenir

business card for Old Trapper’s Lodge

Press Release for Old Trapper’s Lodge, 3/12/1985

Christmas card from Old Trapper’s Lodge

Christmas card from Old Trapper’s Lodge, 1984

christmas card from Rosemarie Farish, 12/15/1983

christmas card from John and Mary Ehn

Christmas card from Old Trapper’s Lodge, 1982

list of contacts for John Ehn site

Letter to Roy Rogers from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/7/1987

Meeting Agenda, 7/6/1988

Agenda, 7/6/1988

Meeting Action, 7/6/1988

Meeting Informative, 7/6/1988

Meeting Action, 7/6/1988

Meeting Informative, 7/6/1988

Meeting Informative, 7/6/1988

Meeting Action, 7/20/1988

Public Agenda Request, 7/6/1988

pamphlet for The Western Hotel

notice of public hearing, 11/20/1987

contacts on boothill

notes about various contacts for John Ehn sculptures, 5/11/1987

domestic return receipt, 2/4/1988

pamphlet for The Orange Show, 1988

Press Release for Old Trapper’s Lodge, 7/6/1988

Ehn Family Videotape of Old Trapper’s Lodge

History of SPACES

Information regarding SPACES’membership

SPACES’ accomplishments

SPACES’ Current projects

Items outside above office

Boothill ending of Tombstones

Signs around boothill

Letter to Councilman Joel Wachs, LA City Hall from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/26/1987

Draft of Letter to Councilman Wachs from The Cultural Heritage Board, 12/9/1987

Letter to Councilman Joel Wachs, LA City Hall from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 12/5/1987

Letter to Councilman Joel Wachs, LA City Hall from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 11/23/1987

Letter to Councilman Joel Wachs, LA City Hall from SPACES/Seymour Rosen and Rosemarie Farish

Letter to Simi Valley Unified School District from Rosemarie Farish, Ehn Trust, 1/18/1988

Request for acceptance of gift, 1/18/1988

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lyle Mills, Acting Manager Kern County Fair, 4/26/1988

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Rosemarie Farish, 5/6/1988

list of people interested in John Ehn sculptures

Letter to Cheri Doyle, Southwest Museum from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/17/1988

Old Trapper’s Lodge inventory

note about Lee Bernston

Letter to William Kobin from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 4/1/1988

Draft of letter to KCET-TV from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/16/1988

Letter to Jerry Samuelson, Cal State Fullerton from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/9/1988

Letter to Tony Marrando, Walt Disney Imagineering from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/8/1988

Letter to Suzanne Muchnic, LA Times from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/4/1988

Letter to Al Martinez, LA Times from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/2/1988

Draft of things Rosemarie could say in the Howser interview, 1/28/1988

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rose from Tony Marando, Walt Disney Imagineering, 3/4/1988

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Joanne (Johnson?), 2/20/1988

Letter to the Editor from Joanne Johnson, Preserve Bottle Village, 2/19/1988

Letter to Huell B. Howser from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 11/23/1987

Letter to Patrick Ela, Craft and Folk Arts Museum from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 11/23/1987

Letter to Ken (?) from Slim Pedersen, 11/15/1987

Letter to Suzanne Muchnic, LA Times from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 6/25/1987

Letter to Patron on the Arts from Byron C. Campbell, The Cultural Foundation, 8/1/1987

Rufino Tamayo exhibition background and bio

draft of letter to Madeleine Landry

Letter to Rosemarie Farish, Old Trapper’s Lodge from Sandra J. Elder, CA Dept of Parks and Rec, 10/9/1987

Letter to Rosemarie Farish, Old Trapper’s Lodge from Ed Lohr, Carnevale & Lohr, Inc, 6/2/1987

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Lorraine Phillips, 3/4/1988

Letter to SPACES/Cynthia Pansing from Lorraine Phillips, 3/15/1988

Letter from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/9/1988

list of various John Ehn sculptures, 3/9/1988

Letter to various County Fair leaders from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/21/1988

Letter to Carlotta Giersch, GLAZA from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/2/1988

Letter to Warren D. Thomas, LA Zoo from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/16/1988

Letter to Robin Hall, Knott’s Berry Farm from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/2/1988

Letter to Carlotta Giersch, GLAZA from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 1/26/1988

Letter to Jim Jenkins, Cal State Fullerton from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 11/17/1987

Letter to Huell B. Howser from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 10/19/1987

Letter to Madeleine Landry, The Cultural Foundation from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/27/1987

Letter to Pat Scanlon, Walk Disney Emagineering (sic) from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/24/1987

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Ron Dominguez, Disneyland, 8/20/1987

Letter to Dick Nunis, Disneyland from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/7/1987

Letter to Dick Nunis, Disneyland from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/6/1987

Letter to Jon Pugh, Knotts Berry Farm from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/7/1987

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from John Pugh, Knott’s Berry Farm, 7/29/1987

Letter to Jon Pugh, Knotts Berry Farm from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 7/20/1987

Letter to Roy Rogers from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/7/1987

Letter to Jim Blackie, 6 Flags Magic Mountain from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 8/7/1987

domestic return receipt, 7/21/1987

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Didi Barrett, Museum of American Folk Art, 5/8/1987

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from James H. Nottage, Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, 4/18/1987

Letter to Gene Autry from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 2/18/1987

Letter to Co-trustees of Old Trapper’s Lodge from Steven K. Messerli, San Bernadino County Regional Parks Dept, 9/19/1986

Letter to Earle “Bud” Larson, Calico Ghost Town from Co-trustees, Old Trappers Lodge, 9/10/1986

Letter to Steven K Messerli, Regional Parks Dept from Co-Trustees, Old Trappers Lodge, 9/10/1986

Card to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Rosemarie Farish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map and site information

El Rancho Dr
Los Angeles, California, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 34.184411 / -118.586991

Visiting Information

Old Trapper’s Lodge was named a California State Historical Landmark in 1981, the year John Ehn died. In the mid-1980s, to ensure the continued maintenance of his monumental sculptures, several were relocated to the grounds of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, where they are available for public viewing. A number of smaller sculptural works can also be seen at the Oakland Museum of California.

 

Discussion

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