Chimney Moon: Mysterious Ruins of Llano Del Rio Socialist Colony (Night Sky Light Painting Photo)


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The desert holds many mysteries. One of these  mysteries is Llano Del Rio.

This old chimney is mostly what’s left of the hotel ruins, part of the 100 year old ruins of Llano del Rio Colony, a socialist utopian community, established in SE Antelope Valley in 1914. Llano del Rio was founded by Job Harriman, a young lawyer who almost won a bid for mayor of Los Angeles in 1911, obtaining over a third of the votes. Not trusting the political system to enact social change, Harriman founded the community out in the desert north of Los Angeles. The cooperative thrived, its population exceeding 1000, until their water supply was diverted by an earthquake fault. They had one of the country’s first Montessori schools, hosted a fertile intellectual and cultural climate, and had innovative low-cost housing, Social Security, minimum-wage pay, and universal health care services that predated the rest of the country by decades. Although Llano del Rio is today considered Western American history’s most important non-religious utopian community, there is unfortunately no protection for the site despite being a California Historic Landmark.

Today, signs of decay abound at Llano Del Rio. Although a designated California landmark, the site rots, its grain silo tagged, broken glass and automobile debris everywhere. A 150 pound plaque designating the site as a Historical Landmark was erected in 1982, only to be stolen two weeks later. It’s never been replaced.

According to the LA Times, County officials and members of Llano Community Association have proposed a county park that would preserve the site and provide a historical display. There is fear that the area could be leveled by a developer.

But a park costs money, and the county does not have about half a million dollars that it would take. Even worse, the land where most of the substantial ruins are concentrated, including the hotel, commissary, bakery, post office, and horse barn, is owned by two doctors in Illinois, according to the LA Times. And unless the property is acquired, the ruins will continue to languish.

Title: Chimney Moon
Photographer: Ken Lee
Info: Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. 109 second long exposure, f/8 ISO 200. “Light painted” the old hotel chimney with LED flashlight and speedlight with gel. The streaks of light on the right are car lights from the nearby highway.
Location: Llano Del Rio, California, USA

Equipment:  Nikon D7000, Tokina AT-X 116, Feisol tripod.

You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like). We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!



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