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


I feel for you Jimi, and good job sir. I was starting to think me and dx were only ones posting anymore, haha.

I don't find midgets funny, nor do I find midgetville laughable. But only oddities in my own home town.

Shit, oddities of this country of mine. Sacrificing a glimpse into yesteryear.
Posted by taylor  in  FW, TX  on  Tue Jul 14, 2009  at  04:21 PM
Hey Taylor,

Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Tue Jul 14, 2009  at  05:03 PM
Hey Taylor,

I just re-read my posting. I hope you don't think that I was getting on you (it sounded a little that way). I was just typing my thoughts. Those two DVD's that I listed are really good. I totally recommend them to both the midgets AND the tallll folks!

Oh, and one more clarification, my ex-wife
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Tue Jul 14, 2009  at  05:11 PM
Wow Taylor, I didn't mean to get people started. Steve in PA needs to get a life! My fascination is not about Midgets ...just that something so mysterious still exists in the most conservative part of FW and looks [after all these years] to be at least somewhat intact.
Posted by dx  in  Fort Worth  on  Thu Jul 16, 2009  at  11:20 AM
Hey DX & Taylor...

Have you noticed that Steve in PA just tip toed back to the hobitville. Oops, I'm sorry, I meant back home.

Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Thu Jul 16, 2009  at  12:32 PM
LOL...if you want to know the real 411 on midget town in Long Beach Ca keep reading...if not close your eyes. I grew up at 36 La Linda Dr. from 1959 to 1969.I only found out a few years ago I lived in midget town because there were`nt any midgets.At least not while I lived there,HOWEVER...there were midgets that lived there before me. These were the Wizard Of Oz midgets . After the movie wrapped some midgets bought land and built homes at what is now La Linda Dr. It was close to the studios.I must admit there were some very not so roomy houses I`d been in,and one highly suspect house with 9 ft doors and 3ft knobs,oh I also have the 411 on Igors Alley butI too will save that for another day.
Posted by TerriSue  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  01:37 AM
Posted by GEENA  in  RIVERSIDE CA  on  Tue Jul 28, 2009  at  04:03 PM
Hey Geena in Riverside,
I'm just about to e-mail you the directions, some maps & pics. Not that I want you to "prove his ass wrong", I just feel that the both of you will get a kick out of it.
If you go there, just watch out for Steve in PA. He may gather up his little buddies and try to chase all you "tallll folk's" away from there.
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Tue Jul 28, 2009  at  05:53 PM
When I said I don't find midgets funny i wasn't attacking you dx. Just to clear it up. And Jimi, i saw "The Terror Of Tiny Town". But what about "The Mysteries of Midgetville"? and what do you mean "what I like to call"? And TerriSue...that legend is old and quite well known by us here. But I would like information on Igor's Alley.
Posted by Taylor  in  FORT WORTH  on  Fri Aug 07, 2009  at  03:03 AM
Hi Taylor,

The Mysteries of Midgetville is a documentary about the Midgetville that used to be here in La Sierra (Riverside), CA. I have the DVD. They sold it on a website that no longer exist. I
Posted by JIMI  in  Riverside, CA (Home of the La Sierra Midgetville)  on  Fri Aug 07, 2009  at  08:00 AM
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
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