This is how Patrick woke me up this last Thursday. Since moving I have pretty much dragged him to every old west town, be it fake or real, I could find. From Pioneertown to Calico to Knott’s Berry Farm to Paramount Ranch, I’m all about going to places that feature old west buildings. Bodie is next on the list. But Patrick brought an odd ball to my attention that I had never heard of. Thanks, Atlas Obscura. Enter Jack-O-Landia.
This place is just weird. Located right along Highway 18 in Lucerne Valley is Jack-O-Landia, a bizarre, tiny, wanna-be western…town…amusement…thing…I honestly don’t know what to call it. And here’s the thing, the internet doesn’t offer much on it, despite locals claiming the place has been there for around 30 years, according to Atlas Obsucra, anyway.
By just driving by you may mistake it for a mini golf corse, or an amusement park of some sort, but then as you pull up you realize it is something else entirely. And what that is exactly you don’t know. The land is scattered with sheds that have been given western style porches, a “Last Stop” gallows and jail grace one side, meanwhile on the other side is what appears to be a legitimate tiny cemetery (I say legitimate because most of the headstones are laser etched, and feature relatively recent death dates) and a hearse, complete with casket inside (yes, I opened it, a glass or plexiglass sheet lay just inside, and I didn’t feel like crawling in further to see what lay beneath). Located in between is a playground, fake service station, wooden train, tipis, and a memorial for one Victor Cruz (all I can find is a short 2011 obituary for him, which invites people a celebration of life at Jack-O-Landia). Additionally there is a memorial sign for Freddy Fender. There are even handicap spaces located inside the fence, and restrooms, though they are actually just porta-potties (no, I did not go in).
The area has a strange feeling of both abandon and upkeep, because the buildings are free of tagging, and other forms of destruction. But maybe that is just because the area of Lucerne Valley doesn’t have a lot of vandals in its population. Who knows?