Lebec Hotel and Rancho Coffee Shop menu with (4) stapled-in specials. "May 1949" hand-written on cover.
Card stock, gloss-coated on one side, 4 pages octavo, 7x10¾ inches.
The owner of the hotel property at this time is Burk Enterprises Inc. — Harry J. Burk Jr. and Margaret Burk — who paid $190,000 for the property in 1947.
In 1950, the Burks filed for a public dance license.
Also in 1950, the Burks sued the sellers, accusing them of shortchanging them on the acreage. The Burks alleged
their July 1947 purchase agreement was for 44 acres on the west side of Highway 99 and 20 acres on the east side,
but that the east-side property was actually just 16.31 acres.
It made a difference because Harry Burk had just announced plans to build a 48-room motel on the east side of the highway.
No such plans materialized.
In the end, the Burks weren't too badly harmed by the metes and bounds. In 1955 they sold the property for $300,000 — a profit of more than
50 percent in just 8 years.
Visit Beautiful Hotel Lebec
You Will Enjoy Its Comforts
Reasonable Rates — All Outside Rooms Steam Heated
Owned and Operated by Burk Enterprises, Inc.
Elevation 3900 Feet
In the Mountains — Sixty-five Miles from Hollywood and Forty Miles from Bakersfield on the Famous Ridge Route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Local history on the back of the menu should not be taken as gospel. It reads:
The Story of Lebec.
The first man through the Tejon Pass of whom we have a record was Don Pedro Fages, Commander of Militia of Alta California. This was in 1772 when he passed through searching for Indian converts who had deserted from the missions.
Four years later, in 1776, Padre Garces passed through at the end of a cross country march.
Lebec was named for Peter Lebec, a French wanderer and trapper, who was killed in 1837 by a grizzly bear that he had wounded. His companions buried him beneath the tree where he fell, and carved his name in the bark. The bark grew out and filled in the cuts; years later this section was removed from the tree, showing the name of Peter Lebec in reverse on the inside. This section of''bark is now in the Beale Library at Bakersfield, California. The tree is still standing near the present highway.
Early in the Fifties, Greek George drove a camel train through the Pass. This was an experiment in military transportation and it is attributed to Jefferson Davis who was then Secretary of War. The camels were sent out to assist General Fremont and while their usefulness in the desert was slight, in the mountains they were of no use on the rough rocky trails.
Fort Tejon, one mile north, was founded in 1852 as a defense against hostile Indians. It was an important army post and the only Southern California army post that experienced a fall of snow during the winter. For this reason. Troopers from the east requested transfers to Fort Tejon.
Lebec is on the Route of the Famous Butterfield Overland Mail Route where Six-horse Stages covered the distance from San Francisco to St. Louis in twenty-three days.
In the mountains behind Lebec was the rendezvous of Joaquin Murrieta during the time he was harassing the Puebio of Los Angeles. He left his stronghold due to the treachery of his own men and the zeal of Captain Love. He fled north and was overtaken in what was known as the Tulares, where he was killed by Captain Love.
Harrison Scott in Californian Historian (Vol. 43 No. 4, Summer 1997) writes:
The last major structure in place during the highway's glory was the Lebec Hotel. Construction began Jan. 15, 1921, and it opened for business four months later, on May 21. The hotel was the brainchild of entrepreneur Thomas O'Brien, a saloon-keeper from Bakersfield. Financing for the opulent hotel was provided by Cliff Durant, an automobile manufacturer.
The Lebec hotel was a "complete gambling joint with a ball-room, rooms and apartments" during its heydays from 1925 to 1934. Clark Gable and his actress wife, Carole Lombard, as well as gangster Benny "Bugsy" Siegal, frequented the Lebec Hote1. A 1926 touring guide describes it: "Hotel Lebec is new and high class, 80 rooms, thoroughly modern single $2-$3, with bath $4, coffee shop open 24 hours."The Lebec Garage nearby was the largest and best equipped on the ridge. Labor was $1.75 an hour, increasing to $2.40 after 6 p.m.
Shortly after the hotel opened, Durant sold his interest to Foster Curry (son of the concessionaire at Yosemite) of San Francisco. Early postcards from this period show the hotel under its brief stint as "Curry's Lebec Lodge," once located along the west side of Lebec Road just north of the Lebec off-ramp.
The hotel fell into disrepair and was officially closed on November 13, 1968, in response to health department charges concerning its substandard water system and dilapidated condition. The hotel went into receivership and was purchased by the Tejon Ranch Company. They torched the hotel and demolished the remains on April 27, 1971, only two weeks after acquiring the property. Two tall Italian Cypress trees mark the former location.
Read more here.
LW3569: pdf of original menu purchased 2019 by Leon Worden. Download individual pages here