Posted by: cassymuronaka | April 6, 2009

Nitt Witt Ridge


Each year thousands of travelers make a pilgrimage to William Randolph Hearst’s temple of excess, Hearst’s Castle, in Cambria, California. Overlooked by most of those tourists is nearby Nitt Witt Ridge.


San Simeon boasts room after room of medieval tapestries and illuminated books. At Nitt Witt Ridge, the walls are draped with old Chevron company calenders, and embedded with toilet seats. In fact, the commode constitutes a rather large part of the property design motif employed by Arthur Harold Beal, otherwise known as Der Tinkerpaw, or Capt. Nitt Witt.


While Hearst was scouring the globe for the fantastic and priceless, Beal was sifting through Cambrian refuse, culling out his own valuables. Unlike Hearst, born to a fortune, Beal was a local garbage collector. He could not shape his vision with the help of a famous architect like Julia Morgan. Instead, he only had access to a pick, a shovel, as well as countless beer can tabs and abalone shells.


And toilets. There are toilets on the hillside, there are toilets on the roof, and there are toilets with plants growing out of them. There also is a toilet marking the entrance, right next to the sign announcing the time of the next tour.


Since Beal’s death at 96 in 1992, the “estate” has become a California State Historical Landmark, although it is currently owned by a gentleman named Michael O’Malley. For a modest price, Mr. O’Malley will show you the place and sell you a Nitt Witt t-shirt. And unlike Hearst’s Castle, which is now maintained by the California State Parks system, the money goes towards preserving a quirky but deteriorating home that appeals to visitors taking a big veer off the beaten path.



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