Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Adventures of Dan the Miner

The famed Carthay Circle Theatre has been gone for over 40 years, but Dan the Miner still stands. He was there when the movie palace first opened its doors in 1926. He saw the crowds gather for the gala 1937 premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He even witnessed the decline and 1969 fall of the once grand theatre.

Dan the Miner, a "larger-than-life sculpture of a 49er gold prospector," was initially christened "The Pioneer." The seven foot, 512-pound bronze figure was fashioned by sculptor Henry Lion back in 1925. Set in the Carthay Circle courtyard, the 49er was the centerpiece of a water fountain feature--also known as the Daniel O. McCarthy Pioneer Fountain or the Miner's Statue. Hence, we get "Dan the Miner."

In the photo below, artist Lion stands on a pedestal next to his sculpture. Also pictured is the Carthay Circle Theatre developer J. Harvey McCarthy and an unknown woman. Photo is dated March 17, 1926.


Image via vokoban.


The statue and fountain were dedicated in 1926. A plaque read, "This fountain is a memorial to the gallant pioneers of '49 of whom Daniel O. McCarthy, patriot, miner, leader, was an outstanding example..."

Image via the Los Angeles Herald Examiner courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.


A photo from 1927 with the theatre in the background.

Image via the Los Angeles Herald Examiner courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.


Another 1927 photo, this one a moody night shot.

Image via the Los Angeles Herald Examiner courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.


Some 80 years later, the theatre was gone. The pond was gone. Yet, Dan still stood, pictured here in a 2006 close-up.


2006 images courtesy of vokoban.


Then in February of 2008, something happen. The poor guy was stolen (LA Times, February 13, 2008). The heist was apparently run by thieves wanting to make a buck off the metal.

Image via Curbed LA.


Understandably, folks in the neighborhood were rather upset. Dan was a real piece of antiquity. Several months went by with no word. Yet, his disappearance had been in the media, and probably as a result, he was recognized one day when he showed up in a LA scrapyard.

The good news was that the criminals were caught (LA Times, January 6, 2009). The bad news...rather disrespectfully...he'd been cut in half! Still, he did make a new friend while he was away. Meet "Scrappy" the metal dog.

Found in LA Scrapyard. Image via LA Times.


After a very long and difficult year for Dan, the city had the statue restored. Looking spiffy as ever, Dan was unveiled anew in early 2009.

Image via Curbed LA.

Image via Curbed LA.


All's well that ends well. And so it is for Dan the Miner who is back home on his Carthay Circle perch.

Image copyright Will Campbell via Blogging Los Angeles.

14 comments:

  1. Never knew this story! Now I feel like I need to go drive by and take a look at him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an excellent idea Elana. Give him my regards if you do. ;)

      Delete
  2. Wow, very interesting. I'm so glad he was recovered, it's kind of a miracle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know Major. The fact that he's back is just amazing.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing this post, we love reading about this iconic statue! We too might have to visit and photograph him soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing one more story with us. You always seem to show things which keep our interest. I remember when I saw the Candy Cauldron pics in your blog and I read that not many people had actually visited it. I asked many of my friends, who have been to the U.S. and many Disney places, and not a single one of them had been there!
    Maybe it's the same case with this statue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anderson. I think even less Disney fans have seen Dan the Miner than the Candy Cauldron. But I'm glad he's still standing after all these years. :)

      Delete
  5. Wow! I have a friend that used to work in one of those ugly buildings that replaced the Carthay Circle Theater. He told me the story about the theft, but I did not know the statue was ever recovered. Yes, now I also feel like I need to go visit him. I just drove by a couple weeks ago, but I was not looking for him....I was glaring across the street at the newer buildings in disgust. I wonder whatever became of Dan's new-found friend, "Scrappy"?

    ReplyDelete
  6. P.S. Do you know if any measures have been taken to prevent another theft? Now I'm going to worry about him. My chiropractor had to close his office the other day because in the middle of the night, someone had stolen the high voltage wires that run from the telephone pole down to the building he is in. We are living in some scary times right now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tokyo--If you go visit Dan, keep a look out for Scrappy. You never know, maybe he followed the miner to the park. Metal dogs make fairly loyal companions I hear. ;)

      Delete
  7. I had no idea he was still there - thanks for the awesome post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I live right up the street (a few blocks up Crescent Heights) from here and have driven by every day since 2002. Great story! Don't know if you know, but for the past few weeks (months?) the little park area where Dan is has been fenced off and major landscaping and grounds renovation is taking place. I don't think it's going to be pond again, but something is happening there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the update Gary. When the renovations are complete, maybe you could snap a photo for us to share?

      Delete