The Topanga area of Eastern Malibu is famous for its great surf, eclectic living, and interesting host of artists, musicians, and movie stars seeking to get away from the city and live somewhere a little more whimsical. However, unknown to many people, Topanga has a rich history dating all the way back to before 1775.

(Topanga Canyon)


Before the Spanish or any of the European powers discovered the New World, the name Topanga originally came from the Tongva tribe that lived there, eventually changing into the name Topanga that is well known today. 

(Depiction of the Tongva Tribe)

In 1775, a boy by the name of José Bartolomé Tapia went on a religious, military, and colonization expedition of California led by famous Spanish military officer, Juan Batista de Anza. In 1800 Tapia applied for a land grant to the Spanish Government, for his service in the military during his previous Expidition, for some of the land that he had seen in his youth. In 1804 Tapia settled on the land to live a peaceful life of grazing cattle and raising a family creating the famous Rancho Tapanga Malibu.

(Portrait of Juan Batista de Anza)

In 1848 Tapia’s widow, Maria Francisca Mauricia Villalobo, sold the sold the estate to her grandson in Law, Leon Victor Prudhomme who had married a daughter of Tiburcio Tapia, grantee of Rancho Cucamunga. Soon after in the cession of California to the United States after the end of the Mexican-American War,  the “1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, Prudhomme filed a claim for Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit but could not document the Tapia title and the claim was rejected.”. So in 1857 the land was sold to Irish Man, Mathew Keller. And then 11 years after Kellers death, the Land was then sold to the Famous Frederick Hastings Ringe in 1891.

(First Official Map of Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit 1870)

(Frederick Hastings Ringe)

Then in the 1920’s Topanga became a haven for, “Hollywood stars looking for a quick getaway from the pressures of celebrity. Some, like Cecil B. DeMille and actress Pola Negri, built homes here.” (Eleanor Boba)

Soon after, “Topanga came to be a mecca for artistic types in the 1950s and beyond. The remoteness and natural beauty attracted many musicians. Neil Young recorded his album “After the Gold Rush” in his Topanga Canyon basement. Canned Heat’s Alan Wilson was inspired to write the rock anthem “Going Up the Country” here. Linda Ronstadt and Jim Morrison were frequent visitors. Beach Boy Dennis Wilson had a home nearby.” (Boba). 

(Niel Young in Topanga Canyon)

Topanga today still maintains much of it’s unique charm from the wave of artists that came in the 1950’s and is always a welcome place for those who are seeking to live in a place a little more interesting!


Curious about some of the properties within Topanga Canyon? Well Check out this active listing to find out more!