The Legend of Midgetville

image For Christmas I received a great book, Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman. Immediately I flipped through it to find anything about San Diego, and soon came across the legend of Midgetville.

Midgetville refers to the legend of a town consisting of scaled-down houses built for little people. Midgetville is said to exist in various places throughout America. As Moran and Sceurman note, the most credible rumor locates such a town in Jefferson Township, New Jersey, on the former estate of circus mogul Alfred T. Ringling. There really is a collection of small-sized houses there that could conceivably have once been home to a colony of midgets. However, another very persistent legend locates a Midgetville in San Diego.

Moran and Sceurman don't go into much detail about the San Diego Midgetville, but I realized that I had heard this legend before (my wife had also heard it). This is how it goes: back in the 1930s a group of little people who had made a lot of money in Hollywood appearing in movies such as The Wizard of Oz supposedly came down to San Diego and built a collection of miniature houses on Mt. Soledad where they could live in comfort together. But of course, nobody seems to know exactly where on Mt. Soledad this group of small houses was or is, though everybody has heard of a "friend of a friend" who once accidentally found the houses (though this FOAF can never remember how to get back there).

Determined to find the houses, I did a google search and came across an article from 2003 written by Kenneth Smith for the Daily Aztec detailing his own efforts to track down San Diego's fabled 'Munchkin Houses'. After many false starts, he finally discovered that they were most probably "a group of four cottages on Hillside Drive in La Jolla... built by famed architect Cliff May." Although no midgets or little people were ever known to live in these houses, Smith says that, "The houses do indeed have smallish features, accentuated by an optical illusion. The steep road that passes them makes them seem even smaller than they actually are." Unfortunately only one of the four cottages remains standing, but Smith provides directions to find it: "take Hillside Drive from Torrey Pines Road. The house will be on your left-hand side. Look for the crazy midget handwriting." He also mentions that if you peek through the window (the house is unoccupied) you'll see "cobblestone-like tiled floors and a little round fireplace."

Of course, I had to see this for myself, even if no colony of Wizard-of-Oz midgets had ever lived there. So on New Year's Day I convinced my wife to accompany me on a search for the Munchkin House. The results were mixed. It was no problem finding Hillside Drive, but as it turns out Hillside Drive is fairly long. We were driving up and down it (as a line of cars formed behind us) wondering 'exactly which house on the left did he mean.' None of the houses leaps out at you and screams 'Munchkin House.' But finally we settled on one house that we figured must be it: Seventy-Four Seventy-Seven Hillside Drive. It had small windows and a small door. Plus, the address written beside the door looked a bit like 'crazy midget handwriting' (though I think Smith was joking about this). Ignoring the 'No Trespassing' sign (even though part of the legend of Midgetville is that the midgets who live there fiercely defend their land from the Bigs), I peeked through the window and saw the cobblestone-like tiled floors and a little round fireplace. So I think I found the Munchkin House, though I'm not 100% sure. It's certainly not anything that would catch your attention if you weren't specifically looking for it since it's really not that small, which made the trip a bit disappointing. But the weird thing is, I've already forgotten how to get back there.

Places

Posted on Sun Jan 02, 2005



Comments

This story sounds like Haunchyville near Milwaukee WI. The difference is in Haunchyville the midgets are supposed to get mad and chase you away with axes and pitchforks.
Posted by Mark M.  on  Sun Jan 02, 2005  at  07:05 PM
This sounds like a legend in San Antonio, Texas about a place called Midget Mansion. As I recall, and it's been over 20 years since I heard the story so I've forgotten plenty, is that a house was built by a local oil baron in the mid 1920s. He hired midgets to act as servants and housekeepers and built midget sized passages so they would stay out of sight of guests. The house people say was the mansion was torn down about 15 years ago to make way for an apartment complex so tracking down the truth would be difficult.
Posted by Reinstag  on  Sun Jan 02, 2005  at  08:03 PM
On the photo of the "No Trespassing" sign, there is a piece of paper with printing or writing on it attached to the sign. What did it say? Do you have a close-up or can the existing picture be enlarged?

Thanks
Posted by skeptic53  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  01:41 AM
Even though the end was a disappointment, I think there's enough material for a quirky road movie in this extended narrative. All you need is to add some odd encounters with roadside freaks along the way - you've already got a boy and a girl - and perhaps an open-topped Chevrolet. Perhaps you could be chased by mobsters, or something. And you've got plutonium in the boot of your car. Yes.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  06:47 AM

"A video camera has been installed to watch you and your dog! If your dog defecates here we will unleash a gang of murderous midgets upon you. Turn back now, Mr. Big!"
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  09:50 AM
You may be thinking about Tiny Town, Colorado

http://www.tinytownrailroad.com/
Posted by Larry  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  10:16 AM
I live near Gibsonton, Florida. Famous for it's retired Circus performers, equipment, and the like. My husband's great-grandmother lives there. She was a contortionist w/ a circus (not sure which, but the majority of the people in the area are from Ringling), her daughter was some sort of show-girl. They're both retired & living in a trailer park there. The lobster-hand family lived there for a while...we used to see them all of the time. Ever since the murders though, you don't see them as much. Either they left...or just don't like to get out. There are these little empty lots everywhere that hold out-of-use funnel cake carts, merry-go-rounds...you name it, it's there during the off season!

http://www.gibtown.com/town.htm -or-
http://www.culturallyflausa.com/path/region.php?region=3&page=11
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  10:34 AM
These little towns or tiny towns are everywhere. I was driven by one by a friend after a few brews. All I saw was a small house. The same story, angry little people yelling at you and chasing you off. This one was in Vienna Va.
Posted by Oscar  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  12:12 PM
Why do you want to stalk little people? Don't you think they already get enough grief as it is?
Posted by Craig  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  01:04 PM
My husband's great-grandmother says that there is some sort of Little People's Associate...sort of like PETA, but for little people (I think little people is the actual preferred term...).
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  01:07 PM
Santa Barbara (Montecito) supposedly has a whole street of miniture mansions for "little folk". I need to find out the street name again & can't remember if they hate or enjoy the tourists?
Posted by sbnature  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  01:07 PM
When she was a young girl, my mother attended the Texas Centennial Exposition of 1936 (it was the 100th anniversary of Texas declaring independence), which was held at Fair Park here in Dallas.
Among many memorable features of this extravaganza, there was a "midget town," or was it "midget village"? This was a group of houses built to a miniature scale, and the fair organizers hired a few dozen very small people to live in them, and basically be on public display, during the course of the fair. I'm not sure what was supposed to be so amusing about these people except that they were small, but I guess (I hope, anyway) they were well paid for their time.
My Mom told me all about this and other wonders when I was a pre-schooler, but I have since seen it mentioned in histories of the Texas State Fair (which is still held every year, but without the freak shows of old).
Of course, this was a temporary "Midgetville" built as a deliberate tourist attraction, not any kind of permanent settlement.
After the 1936 Exposition, it is said that many of the same performers went on to play Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz movie (which was made in 1939, if I remember correctly). I doubt that any of them made huge amounts of money at it, though. Remember, this was the Great Depression, and there wasn't exactly a surplus of jobs for people of very diminutive stature, and it was also the era when movie studios were all-powerful and regarded actors as pretty much interchangeable.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  05:10 PM
That house looks pretty much like a run-of-the-mill southern California house to me. No tiny little door, tiny little mailbox, tiny little furniture, half-size stairs, or the like.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  05:33 PM
I have actually lived in houses smaller than this!
Posted by Myst  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  07:36 PM
:-) Thanks for writing this article and posting the pictures! I'm a native San Diegan and have been hearing the stories about "Midget Land" (at least that's what people I know call it) since high school. I've even tried going there a few times.

The urban legend states you have to pass 4 bridges or the like. I'd sworn I found it once, but wasn't really sure and could never find it again. It's been years and the directions are still hidden in my car somewhere (even though they don't really take me to the same place I thought it was). Anyway, me and a friend mine had recently gotten "curious" again... and I'm just thankful someone's actually taken pictures! THANKS you've saved me a tank of gas! :cheese:
Posted by RT  on  Sun Jan 09, 2005  at  09:47 PM
i have heard of a "midget town" in downey, california. i have friends that swear they have been there. i finally got the directions out of them, and even located it on a map, where this place is supposed to be, but they say its closed off by a chain marked "private property" and that i wouldnt be able to get in anyway. i still wanna try though.
Posted by Lex  on  Sun Jan 16, 2005  at  11:39 PM
I'm also a native San Diegan, but frankly, I have never in my life heard stories about Midgitville until now. Maybe if I'm ever up in that area I'll go drive by myself.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Sat Jan 22, 2005  at  10:30 PM
There is one in Fort Worth, Texas. It consists of about 4 minature houses, a minature church and minature stables. It's on the estate of a mansion that came up on the market last year. The little houses had air-conditioning and appeared to be recently occupied.

My uncle had told me about several years back. Complete with the aggressive little people living there. I didn't believe him, but when the place came up on the market, sure enough there it was just like he had said.
Posted by Joe  on  Tue Feb 08, 2005  at  10:15 PM
I LOVE LITTLE PEOPLE
Posted by jojotigerlily  on  Mon Feb 14, 2005  at  12:18 PM
Let's get small...
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Feb 14, 2005  at  12:36 PM
There is a midget-house-village in San Diego somewhere near-ish to a large hospital. I don't remember exactly where because I was only about 9 when I visited it. However, I had a relative living there (some kind of great aunt, ancient tiny woman) and we spent a whole day at her house and her neighborhood. She was in a wheelchair and the ceilings in the house were only 5 feet or so high. The doors, fixtures, bathroom, everything, were really low. There were at least 10-20 or so homes like this in the cul-de-sac.

What my parents told me, was the homes used to be chicken coops! (seriously) There were no midgets living there, only elderly handicapped people in wheel chairs.

It was really weird though, all the homes were very small and it was a secluded little area. I think this may be the source of the midget village myth. If you drove by this street, you'd look down it and see both sides of the street lined with teeny houses. It was like something from a kiddie land at an amusement park. The home I visited, I would say had to be only around 20 feet wide, 20 feet deep and around 6-7 feet tall (flat roof). The front door was like 4 1/2 feet tall. I was 9 and had to crouch to get in. It was as wide as a normal door though, and could accomodate a wheel chair. This was around 1980 or so.

Anywho, just thought I'd post this somewhere, as I've heard of midget towns for many years, and always hear they are a myth. Not so, in San Diego!
Posted by cyco  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  05:30 PM
I don't believe that is all there is to "Midget Land." I am a San Diego native & I think it's heaven on earth. In high school we used to drive all around that mountain searching for "Midget Land." They used to say that it is by a sign that says "Not a Public Thoroughfare." So we'd all pack into a Toyota Camry and search around for it, but we would never find it. One time on Halloween night we even stopped in the middle of some road on Mount Soledad and I popped my head out of the back window and yelled out to some guy standing in front of his house and said, "Excuse me, do you know where Midget LAND is??" The guy just looked at me with a confused look on his face. I was serious, but then we realized how riduculous the question was and we all started laughing and we drove away.

The myth also said that the people who lived at Midget Land were mean and defensive and could kick your ass.

The other urban myth was that there were four bridges on Mount Soledad and if you found the fourth you would warp away and never come back. I found one by accident one time and it was pretty exciting.
Posted by Kamran  on  Mon Apr 11, 2005  at  06:46 PM
As a young boy in the early 1960's Fort Worth, I remember a place everyone called "Midget Village" within walking distance from my house. Seems like it was a little abandoned town with stores a church etc. No one I talk to seems to remember it. I lived over on the West Side off of Burton Hill Road.
Posted by Mike Rogers  on  Mon May 02, 2005  at  10:51 AM
hey im curious does anyone got that directions for tha one in nj in jefferson county yo that b great if u do thanx me an my boyz wanna c sum lil people an my freind a lil person we call him lil mini write back pleez thanx.
Posted by thug nigga  on  Mon May 16, 2005  at  08:10 AM
I've been there, I've seen the 4 houses that you mentioned. 3 have been torned down however. The houses are actually pretty easy to get to and are off of Via Le Sienna or something. Anyway, cool story!
Posted by Juan Martinez  on  Fri Jun 03, 2005  at  03:43 PM
vicodin side effects
Posted by abc  on  Fri Jun 24, 2005  at  12:23 AM
The place is real. It's across from Thoreau Middle School off Cedar Lane. Going north on Cedar, take a left on Wedderburn and you'll see some weird trees and two dirt roads that lead back, with some vandalized mailboxes out front. I went to a high school nearby and as a young teenager I would go there all the time. My neighbor drove his wrangler into there one night and came out with bullet holes in the side of his car (the midgets shot his car with a bbgun). There is a dead end though so that's how they are able to attack you because in the process of turning around they trap you in. They have children who are normal size who come to protect their parents, and that's when it can get dangerous. If you do go to check it out be careful and try to be respectful about it- don't play loud music and laugh at them!
Posted by Danielle  on  Tue Jul 12, 2005  at  10:26 AM
can some one please e mail me and tell me how to get to midgetville from raritan NJ. My friends were telling me about it and we want to go there, but we dont have any clue how to get there. If some one can please e mail me with directions to get there I would really appreciate it.
Posted by jake  on  Tue Jul 26, 2005  at  11:49 AM
has anyone ever been to the "tinytown" in new york either in long island or suffouk? people have told me about it but they werent really sure where it was... please if anybody knows respond back!!!
Posted by courtney  on  Wed Jul 27, 2005  at  11:55 AM
i know the exact directions, here's how to get there, from torrey pines rd, go up hiddend valley rd, then make a right at via siena, and you'll come to a fork in the road not to far a head, go right at the fork in the road, and then not too far down about .1mile you'll see the house 7477 on your right hand side, you'll see a house in front of it w/ a gate. go be4 it's gone.
good luck.
Posted by Simon  on  Thu Aug 18, 2005  at  12:00 AM
i didn't read all of the comments above, so i don't know if anyone has mentioned the questionable midget town in long beach. anyways, a friend of mine lives near it sort of in the rancho los alamitos part of long beach on a street called la linda drive. well, we found la linda drive, and it is a small community (maybe 30 houses) only blocked by a electronic gate. a few months ago we found this gate left open for some odd reason, and at first we were all scared to go in, especially with the car. so we watched for about 10 minutes, and in that time we saw two cars enter and exit the community. both seemed as if they were midgets because they could barely see above the wheel. though, of course it is very tough to be sure of this because they didnt exit there cars. i ended up walking through the community (the road goes around in an oval) and found many very nice houses, like mini mansions, but didnt see any midgets. i did see 3 or 4 normal humans (with no intention of considering midgets not normal), but that was it. i hope to journey back to the community sometime soon, and please respond if any others know of or have been to this area. thanks
Posted by john  on  Sun Aug 21, 2005  at  01:43 AM
There is a tinytown in Long Island, New York and I was there Friday night (8/19). IT'S REAL AND ITS FREAKY! The houses are like little mini houses. They are kinda scary looking.
Posted by Eric  on  Mon Aug 22, 2005  at  07:45 AM
i was just wondering if anyone knew where midget town on long island was...if u could please im me that would be great
Posted by michele  on  Wed Sep 14, 2005  at  04:52 PM
if somebody couls please tell me where the midget town on long island is it would be great... i think it is in bayville or muttentown or somewhere around there but i havent found it yet...if anyone has been there please tell me where its located
Posted by courtney  on  Wed Sep 14, 2005  at  11:44 PM
The website for Tiny Town in Long Island is at this link below. Go on Mapquest for directions to Merrick, Long Island.



http://www.lioddities.com/Bygone/tinytown.htm
Posted by Kris  on  Mon Sep 19, 2005  at  04:22 PM
Been to the one in Long Beach. We went through the first gate that anyone can go through(just push a button and the arm goes up), but didn't get through the second gate. We could see two small houses. One looked like a mini version of the Brady Bunch house. Friends have said they climbed a fence and saw a park with small swings, slides and drinking fountains. There are a lot of "end of road" type signs to make you think that you should turn around before you get to the gate.
Posted by Karla Beckerman  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  05:08 PM
Hey Guys,

The past labor day weekend my friend and I were taking a scenic drive through Montgomery, NJ and somehow ended up in what I would consider a Weird area. We had turned off 206 onto Dutchtown-(something) road.(at the intersection was a pretty white church)
Somehow we turned onto longhill road and then onto ridge road and then lindburg rd. It may have been in a different order but those were the 3 roads that we were on. This area is very desolate with long, windy roads and woods on either side. We were on either lindenberg rd or ridge rd when we saw the tinest houses that look like large shoe boxes. Tiny doors, windows and driveways. Regular cars in the driveways and dirt roads in between properties which read No Trespassing. We kept driving and did not try to trespass because we both are chickens! The weird thing was that it was such a gorgeous day out and we saw noone, yet the driveways all had cars in them. Not one other vehicle passed us the whole 30 minutes that we were checking out the area.
Is anyone familiar with this area? Has anyone seen these houses? I'm going to have to go back again soon to look around more. I'd love to know what lies in the woods behind the no tresspassing signs.

Let me know if you've been here!

Kris
Posted by Kris  on  Thu Oct 13, 2005  at  04:25 PM
there is a midget town in long beach like mentioned. My friend went there and they chased them away with broom sticks and one threw a brick at them
Posted by Logan  on  Wed Oct 19, 2005  at  11:06 PM
I too have been to munchkin land in long beach but it was not the La Linda area that is gated. It was the one that someone mentioned where the gate is just an arm like the kind at a parking lot. Yes there were/are a few signs saying end of road and all of the houses had double wide front doors and double high but the door knobs were all very low on the doors which is why we think that midgets live in them. One of the homes had the front doors open and we could see that these were just entries into a garden area between the front entrance and the actual house. We also got chased out a few times but usually due to being inconsiderate of the people living there. We were just kids.
Posted by Kenny  on  Fri Oct 21, 2005  at  02:43 PM
VIENNA VIRGINIA....right off of Cedar Lane...there is indeed a "midgetville". One dirt road...houses with fences and dogs in the front yards...almost every house has a van..go figure. but the houses are small...the vertically challenged do get pissed off...and i have 100% been there and seen it for myself. This is no myth...midgetville exist in VA
Posted by kevin  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  11:25 PM
This is great. I never knew that there really was a "Midgetville". I did see a little house in Texas when I was visiting my Aunt last year. The guy that lived there was not a mean fearce guy though. He looked like that guy from "James Bond The man with a Golden Gun". I just wanted to say "A plane a plane, Look at the plane boss!" But I didn't. That's it. End of story.
Posted by Joe  on  Fri Nov 11, 2005  at  12:01 PM
Hey if any of you know a midget town near Long Beach or Downey let me know. My email is: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by BILL SONG  on  Fri Nov 11, 2005  at  07:07 PM
Every post that I read doesnt dive that correct adress or adress. This is some hoax
Posted by BILL SONG  on  Fri Nov 11, 2005  at  07:19 PM
HA HA HA. We have a hobbit place like that. They changed it because of the movie lord of the rings, but they call it the shire. If you try to enter it they do chase you and they throw things. It's very funny. AND sad.. But funny. The chase with shovels, then they call the cops.
I wanted to put these pocket pals in my pocket.

They are ruthless!
Posted by Carter S  on  Fri Nov 11, 2005  at  08:05 PM
correction...Haunchyville midgits chase you with torches. & it's in muskego
Posted by adriana  on  Fri Jan 20, 2006  at  10:01 AM
can anyone give me the directions to the one in long beach?if you can email me.
Posted by jeannette  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  04:37 PM
yes, i too have heard of this story. It would be located on 'mystic drive' in Muskego, Wisconsin. It is supposeidly down a chained off dirt road, out to a farm field. There are supposed to be miniature stop signs, doors, houses, fences, and midgets, complete with tourches and pitchforks. There is a full size man also, who guards them. You also get stuck with a hefty fine for tresspassing on the private property. I have heard this several times around school, and nothing really seems to be consistant (plus I also have Wierd Wisconsin)

I have also searched all over mystic drive with google earth, and cannot see ANY sign of even a single shed in a field, let alone a whole village (unless under trees, but i doubt it)

so, i would be willing to put my head on it that it doesnt exist, but it's jsut supposed to keep all of us entertained, thus mostly being circulated during hig-school years.

Oh, also, here is a few pictures of the Texas World Fair, complete with midgets and village, via google images...





all in fun
Posted by shotgun_mario  on  Wed Mar 01, 2006  at  10:13 PM
I live in Delaware, near the PA border. I have been hearing Friend of a friend stories about a midget town in what we refer to as the "Valley" since high school. This is an area of back roads that is pretty wooded. Apparently the town is called Zoobieville. I have heard heavy testimonies of how Thier friend was "definitely" there.
One story was of someone who was driving off road and was confronted by a group of midgets who started throwing apples or crabapples at his car. "He has the dents to prove it." So I was told.
Another was that they even have a bar just for them in the town and my friend's friend was going to have her bachelorette party there. but for some reason they didn't. Also, for some reason no one I know knows how to get there.
There is also a Satan house in the area where the trees grow away from the house, and a truck will chase you and shot at you if you go near it. I have seen this house, and the trees do grow away from it, but I imagine its because they are on a small steep hill, and possibly grow towards the sun. (I'm no scientist) But no one chased me.
Posted by dan  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  02:10 PM
where is this place located?
Posted by colleen  on  Tue Apr 04, 2006  at  12:30 PM
ft worths midget village is on hidden ln at the end . off alta off crestline it is between two pillars on the left handside.it is hiden in the woods of the west fork of the trinity river. people do not want you to find it either. it's a nice area
Posted by amanda  on  Sat Apr 22, 2006  at  04:48 PM
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