Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Frank Knapp, Antiquarian Extraordinaire.

Webmaster's note.

Located southeast of Sandberg off of the Ridge Route at N34.687632 W118.663825, the Knapp Ranch (formerly Kelly Ranch) may well have been the Tataviam village of Cuecchao (Quechao), which was "depopulated" by Spanish missionaries and soldiers in 1811.

"Alliklik" was a pejorative term assigned by the Chumash to their Uto-Aztecan-speaking neighbors who migrated into the Santa Clarita Valley from the Great Basin around A.D. 450. The name Tataviam was rediscovered in 1974 but wasn't widely known to the public (including reporters) until the 1990s.

State laws pertaining to the disposition of human remains have changed considerably since this was written in 1980.

After leaving The Signal, the same reporter wrote a feature story on Frank Knapp for the Los Angeles Times in 1983.

Deep in the Forest Lives an Antiquarian Extraordinaire.

320 Acres are Treasure Chest.

Nestled deep in the heart of the Angeles National Forest, at the end of a bone-jarring, tire-ripping dirt road, is the home of Frank Knapp, antiquarian extraordinaire.

Knapp has amassed one of the most extensive collections of Chumash and Alliklik Indian artifacts to be found anywhere.

His ranch house is a veritable museum filled with mortars and pestles, stone bowls, flint knives, arrow heads, beads, and other trinkets.

Outside, in a nearby shed, milling stones are to be found along with the complete skeletal remains of an Indian.

In fact, huge milling stones are scattered all over Knapp's property. They are so numerous he has even used some of them for his patio.

Most of the artifacts were unearthed by Knapp as he puttered around his 320-acre spread.

"I have found stuff all over the place," he told a reporter who recently visited the ranch. "That front gate where you came in used to be an Indian burial ground."

Knapp found the skeleton while hiking in neighboring Bear Canyon 12 years ago.

"I saw this thing sticking out of the ground and I thought it was a bowl," he related. "But when I cleared away the dirt, I saw it was a skull, so I kept on digging until I found every last bone."

Coincidentally, the Sheriff's department was conducting a murder investigation in the area. Deputies confiscated the bones and ran tests on them.

When the bones returned to Knapp, the investigators told him they were the remains of an Indian who died about 150 years ago. The Indian stood 5 foot 8 inches tall and was about 30 years old when he died.

Knapp is one of those people with a real knack for finding things.

While digging for water on his former ranch in Canoga Park, he struck oil.

Geologists investigating the find told Knapp the stones he had pulled out of the well were fossilized whale bones. He sold the oil but still has the bones.

An incurable collector, Knapp has trouble parting with anything. He still has furniture built by his father for the old family homestead in Canoga Park.

He still hunts with the same Winchester rifle, vintage 1917, he has owned for over 40 years. Even his first business sign has been saved.

The agile, muscular Knapp was born in the Swiss Alps 80 years ago. His family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1907 and then moved to Canoga Park where they were the area's first settlers.

Knapp, who became a successful cement contractor, lived in the San Fernando Valley until he semi-retired at the northern edge of the Santa Clarita Valley in 1962.

The sale of his Canoga Park ranch brought him a small fortune with which he maintains his life style today.

"I have got plenty of money," he said. "Well, enough anyway."

Knapp still works a small herd of cattle, but the steers are more like pets than investments. He has also put in a couple of fish ponds stocked with bass and perch.

Other residents of his ranch are some horses, mules, peacocks, dogs, opossums, and a deer. He used to own six buffalo and a bobcat, but he had to sell the buffalo, and the bobcat died.

Local game wardens frequently bring Knapp stray animals in need of a good home.

In the past, Knapp's two biggest problems were United States Forest Rangers stationed in the area and poachers.

"These young kids (the rangers) would come in here and tell me what to do and how to do it," Knapp said. "They were always hounding me about fire hazards."

But these days Knapp gets along with the rangers, and the Sheriff's department has kept the poachers in check.

Aside from single-handedly running his ranch and hunting for artifacts, Knapp still does a lot of hiking, hunting, and horseback riding.

"I used to go up to the Sierras to hunt," he said, "but they put in a lot of roads up there and people came in like flies. In the old days, you had to pack in 18 miles."

Knapp's friends are many, and he says hardly a day goes by without somebody making the long, arduous trek to his ranch.

As the reporter prepared to leave, Knapp slapped a business card in his hand which read: Frank Knapp, retired, no phone, no address, no business, no worries, no money, no prospects.

With a wink at the reporter, he added, "That just about sums it all up."

Click to enlarge.



Frank Knapp Feature 1980


Frank Knapp Bio Feature 1983

Early Inhabitants: Individuals from Cuecchao

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