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.


Posted on Sun Jan 02, 2005


Wow, thanks Jim for the offer. I'll send you an email with my address soon. The "what I like to call thing" was me asking what you ment when you said "What I like to call 'The Mysteries Of Midgetville'" But thanks to your elaboration on the film, informing me that it was a low budget affair, I understand now, haha. Once again thanks so much for sending it.

I have one last question...was the M-ville of La Sierra the one on a mountain, well hill actually. There is a video on youtube of a little person confirming one of the Midgetville legends and he goes on to say he was a content resident before the demolition.

And Jimi...fuck yes, we should road trip our midget hunting ass' to florida. Haha

P.s. One last thing, I promise.

Last night a friend and I stayed up into the "wee"(hahaha) hours of the night. This was his first lesson on what us on this message board have come to care quite a bit about. He used to be in Special-ops. So armed with the bing maps aerial view...and a ton of other expensive Spec-ops gear, he will be performing a recon to establish human contact at our midgetville, at times it looks to be abandoned. Wish him luck, guys.

Thanks one last time Jimbo!
Posted by Taylor  in  Fort Worth, TX  on  Fri Aug 07, 2009  at  07:29 PM
Right on Dude, find them little fellas Ranger style!

The La Sierra Midgetville was in kind of a canyon in the orange groves area. I believe the one that you're speaking of was the one in San Diego. I saw that youtube video some time ago. They interview a little guy on some steps over looking the area where it that correct?

Okay, we need to find out info on the convention & post it here!

Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Sat Aug 08, 2009  at  01:11 AM
Exactly sir. That was it. So was this one the one that is just 4 "somewhat small" houses done by Cliff May, on a normal street of houses? Its not that I doubt you, it's just in the article.

You should come check out ours! It is insane!

We should take a tour across America to all midgetvilles'!
Posted by Taylor  in  FW!  on  Sun Aug 09, 2009  at  03:03 AM
Hey Taylor,

The La Sierra Midgetville was not a real designed, organized neighborhood. It was more like a settlement.

As the "story" goes, the little guys were part of a Traveling Equestrian Show in a Traveling Big Top Circus that went bankrupt here in Riverside, CA. When the Big Top Circus went under, all the performers were left to fend for themselves. The County granted them the area in the La Sierra Orange Groves that (at the time) was not extremely habitable & probably assisted them with building materials for the farm like settlement too. This was said to happen around the 1920's. Some of these little guys may have gone on to the acting profession and were possible part of the cast for "The Terror of Tiny Town".

I'm sure that there are plenty of people that will say that my story is all wrong. However, this is what I came up with squishing all the different stories I've heard together and using the most common & overlapped so called facts. The DVD was a big help too.

By the way, the LPA (Little People of America) National Convention in 2010 will be 7/04 thru 7/09 in Nashville, TN. Start searching for rooms & flights now! I wonder if we would be welcomed like some other
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Sun Aug 09, 2009  at  12:28 PM
my husband doesnt want to believe me lol.. where was the one in riverside? can someone please send me the address?
Posted by kamote  in  glendale  on  Wed Aug 12, 2009  at  11:19 PM
Hey Kamote in Glendale,

Get me your e-mail address & I'll send you the same info, maps & pics that I had sent to Geena in Riverside on the location of the Midgetville in La Sierra (Riverside), CA.

Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Thu Aug 13, 2009  at  09:12 PM
It is really there, Ive been there twice, its right when you get on to virgina country club after winston street dependending on the way you come it will be down a drive way on the right or left hand side when you get to the bottom of the hil youll see a gate on the right that says 24 hour survelience hop the gate and walk down the drive way. My friends got caught after one of the little people calles security on us.
Posted by Mellow  on  Fri Aug 14, 2009  at  03:49 AM
What's the deal lately with all the spam postings of porn sites? They could at least post "midget" porn sites! LOL!!!....
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Fri Aug 21, 2009  at  09:51 AM
Hmmmmm this place is not real, its a mytical land of nonsense!
Posted by Bibi  in  Here  on  Sun Sep 06, 2009  at  11:44 PM
liz from long island, i was just shown the oakdale "munchkinville" today! it's down behind dowling's oakdale campus ... it's hard to miss as the entrance to the area looks like a huge brick castle gate. the houses are definitely tiny and really adorable!
Posted by Frankie  in  Long Island  on  Wed Sep 09, 2009  at  08:31 PM
JIMI, can you send me any info or pictures you have to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). I went here as a kid, and it is sad to know that it doesn't exist anymore.

I would like to get a copy of that DVD, but the site doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Posted by Ron  in  Riverside  on  Mon Sep 28, 2009  at  04:24 PM
Does anyone Know about the one in Seaford LI?
send me the info to my email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Please and Thank You :]
Posted by Nam  in  NY  on  Mon Oct 05, 2009  at  10:08 AM
If anyone has information on any places in Wisconsin, please email me
Posted by Joe  in  Waukesha  on  Wed Oct 07, 2009  at  08:36 AM
At .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by Joe  in  Waukesha  on  Wed Oct 07, 2009  at  08:37 AM
Hi i was told this morning that there is a midget town in downey & riverside. can anyone give me information on this or if you have any dvd;s that i can see or purchase.
Posted by Anna Montalvo  in  downey midjets & riverside midgets  on  Thu Oct 08, 2009  at  05:20 PM

I live in Riverside and have lived there almost my entire life (29 years). I've heard of the La Sierra Midgetville area, but never actually been there.

Can you send me the info (ie; maps, pictures, etc) that you sent to Greena and Kamote. Also. if you can send me a copy of the movie - that'd be awesome. Feel free to email with quesitons at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Thanks again.
Posted by Maria Ruvalcaba  in  Riverside, CA  on  Wed Oct 14, 2009  at  10:13 AM
I was looking for something like this. Thanks!
Posted by Directimg  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  03:28 PM
I tried going to the one in Claremont, Ca in Padua Hills and could not find it. I went up Padua Ave. or whatever, we got to the theatre and there was a road with two small cones so we went through there and it was narrow, long and windy, but there was just a nature park thing so we turned back, then we decided to give it another look by walking but after about 100 yards in the road, we just turned around and walked back to our cars. Was creepy and fun though.
Posted by Beezy  in  Upland, California  on  Sun Dec 06, 2009  at  01:34 PM
F Y I . . . .

The "Little People of America" convention (LPA Conference) is this Summer on July 2-9, 2010 at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, TN

I wonder if they will discuss any of the Midgetville locations during this conference?

Do you think that they would have any problem with a biggie attending a seminar or two for educational purposes? Can they discriminate against a Biggie & not let them in? After all, some of the "Little People" have Biggie Children and/or Parents.

Hmmm, just a thought.
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Wed Dec 09, 2009  at  10:53 AM
It's totally real, I seen it in the eighties. Not sure if it's still there though. Looked in the windows but no one was home.
Posted by Tim  on  Wed Dec 16, 2009  at  09:21 AM
I am 56 years old and grew up in Westchester (a small bedroom community very close to Culver City where they filmed Wizard of Oz). My parents and grandparents grew up here. I lived in Long Beach for 27 years. This community was built originally for the privacy for some of the cast from Wizard of Oz. I had friends that have seen this little community but everyone said that the people that live there are EXTREMELY PRIVATE. They are not freaks..and get irate at anyone who attempts to invade there privacy. I respect that. If you want to see a little village, go to Disneyland. Leave these people alone. They simply live in a place with easy conveniences to accommodate their size. Thats it. You wouldn't want someone treating you that way would you?
Posted by Nancy Brown  in  Long Beach/Los Angeles  on  Sat Dec 19, 2009  at  09:13 PM
i live in Ontario California and there is definitely a little persons colony in the padua hills area of Claremont. get off the 210 fwy on baseline go east, make a right on padua/Monte vista, you will be going toward the mountains. take the road all the way to the top of the hill to the padua theater, park in that parking lot, there is a dirt road next to the theater that goes behind the really big houses toward the mountains and it is posted with "dead end, private property" walk that road, when it comes to a fork, stay on the paved part (the gravel leads up a hill to nothing, but it could also be a good vantage point to see the village) as you follow the paved road it curves around a hill to the right and then descends down into a ravine. in the ravine is the town, there are spotlights everywhere and a lady guarding the property, if she sees you she will chase you off the property in her white van.
trespassing is illegal so beware!
Posted by kyle  in  ontario, ca  on  Mon Dec 21, 2009  at  11:49 PM
The midget community in Claremont at the top of Padua Ave is, from what ive heard and briefly seen, real.

My experience: Park at the theater, walk past the cones and the sign that says No Trespassing. The road goes up a hill and slightly curves down and right and from the top, you can see a house with a bunch of lights. If you walk quietly down the hill (mind you i did this at night) you will come to the first spot light. Go around it by climbing up the hill on the right. Soon after youll come to a little white shack with a yellow gate on the other side of the road (like the ones that block entrance into schools, some parks, etc). Theres spotlight #2. On the right there will be a white fence at the top of a hill, climb up to it and walk along it around the light, and you will get to a dark part of the road. Once we got there we could hear veryyy faint whispering and movement in the bushes/trees (like leaves cracking, sticks breaking, etc). It wasnt an animal because there would be a few distinct crackling noises then it would stop. Then about 30 seconds later there would be another 3-7 noises and it would stop. Eventually my friends and i heard dogs barking and a flashlight farther up the road that was coming towards us, so we booked it back to the car.

Others: My bestfriends brother (who is pretty much my brother) and his friend have gone up there before as well. Except, they didnt know about the spot lights. They set off the first one, kinda got confused/surprised for a few secs, then ran and hid. Nothing happened. Then they set off the second one and straight away booked it into the trees. After that, they stayed off the road. From what he says, as they were walking as quietly as possible through the trees, they could see and hear small rocks falling around them. Like someone was throwing rocks at them from up in the trees. Sketch. Eventually they got too freaked out and just booked it back to their car.

Where it is (sorry, i know its a huge url):

Point 2 is where there are the 3 orange cones and the no trespassing sign are. Have fun, dont get caught. haha
Posted by Cam  in  Rancho Cucamonga  on  Wed Dec 23, 2009  at  01:38 AM
midgetville in claremont is there and just as described by everyone else. after 3 nights of driving around following a friend who had been there before and couldnt remember how to get there, we finally found it. the cones are in the way, the lights do come on, and the dogs do bark. but everything is there just as described. completely worth the gas and time to find it though. if anyone had the documentaries i would love a copy. thanks.
Posted by mimi :)  in  riverside CA  on  Tue Dec 29, 2009  at  04:41 AM
oh! and the surrounding neighbors are strange as hell. we casually asked someone if our friends house we were looking for (theres no cell service so its pretty believable) could be up past the cones and both of the people we asked told us there is only a few houses u there and they are "nothing special" and we cannot go up there under any circumstances. it really seemed as if they knew exactly what was up there and they were protecting them from others knowing about it. bizarre. and the fact that we went through the surrounding neighborhood about 7 pm and all the lights were off in all except 2 of the houses. in this entire time, we saw only the 2 people whom we asked and one other SUV that as soon as he saw us turned around and went back about 10 houses to park in a driveway, strange ass people up there.
Posted by mimi :)  in  riverside CA  on  Tue Dec 29, 2009  at  04:47 AM
Everything about the midgetville in Claremont, CA is true. I still get the chills when I drive around that corner and see all the little mailboxes (about 20 of them) 2 feet from the ground. What I don't get tho is if midgets don't live there anymore why is there a guard? People keep claiming the don't live there anymore so why the secrecy? They really think 2 orange cones are going to keep people out? Last time I was there a mailman drove up and started filling the mailboxes with mail!! I was like HOLY SHIT THEY'RE REALLY HERE!!! but I've been there countless of times and have never actually seen a midget. :( Please 2010 all I want is to see the midgets!!!
Posted by Brent  in  Rancho Cucamonga CA  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  02:15 AM
Where is Midgetville in Downey CA Located??? Can I get a real address and directions.
Posted by Val  in  Downey  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  04:54 PM
WHERE IS THIS PLACE?!!! I GOTTA KNOW. PLEASEE!!!!!!! No more fake stories:| thanks fer yer time. xox gossip girl.
Posted by Gossip Girl  in  Saturn  on  Sat Jan 02, 2010  at  04:57 PM
I remember back in the late 80s when I visited the midget village somewhere in San Diego. Some friends took me there. Since they were driving I don't recall how to get there. I remember getting out of the car and came upon a few homes with the rooftop as tall as 5-6 feet. I looked through some windows and there was a midget in the house. He yelled at us and told us to leave since we were invading his privacy. We ran and ran and ran.
Posted by Tristan  in  Orange County, CA  on  Fri Jan 22, 2010  at  05:01 PM
Great discussion... I came here by a google search because of a story a friend told me around 1974 in Huntington Beach Ca. We used to go driving around the oil field roads at the top of Edwards Hill. It was cool because there was nothing out there and there were old shacks and houses and roads that led nowhere. We were out there and a friend pointed out into the open fields as if to say "over there a ways" was this old house that was full of midgets and that everything was sized to there comfort. It was supposed to be big like a victorian but run down and signs posted to keep out. He said that if you went out there some night and actually found the house, they would all come after you with hammers... at the time that sounded odd but my friends used to tell us about this house that was supposed to be owned by a witch that lived in the town of westminster. This was at the same time... They said that her house was completely covered by bushes all the way to the street. That she was very old, dressed like a gypsy, and wore combat boots. This sounded just like another one of those storys except that one night they took me there. They dropped me off, drove down the street 2 blocks and waited for me to walk past her house. And I did... and there was this yard with nothing but bushes and as i walked by I tried looking through the bushes in the dark (of course they take me there at night). I'm looking through the dark trying to see a house and BANG... out of some hiding place jumps this crazy looking old woman shouting something in romanian swinging a stick at me... of course as I got close to me friends car they started driving away... Years later she passed away and the city went in and cut back the bushes and went into the house to clean things up. They actually had a sheriff there to keep an eye on the place because the rumor was that she had all of this money hidden under the floors etc. but they never found anything of value there. So that story sounded like a lot of bull and it was true so maybe there really was a midget ville someplace.
Posted by john North  in  portland oregon  on  Mon Jan 25, 2010  at  06:17 PM
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