The Ghost of Harry Bergman's Roadside Museum on Highway 371
Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.
For our latest post that’s hidden from the rest of the internet, we want to take you on a very short road trip along State Highway 371, the rural road between Aguanga (pronounced Ah-WAHN-ga, from the Luiseño word awáanga, meaning “dog place”) and Anza—or between Temecula and Palm Desert, to use more familiar destinations.
Now why we were on this highway is something we can’t tell you—not yet. But if the stars align, it will be one of the most exciting Los Angeles archival preservation tales we’ve ever had the privilege to tell. (And if the stars choose not to line up, well, we still found something cool along the road.)
Highway 371 is winding and hilly, with most of the man-made structures hidden in deep gullies or on the backside of hills, which suits the private nature of the locals.
But one Aguanga native son very much wanted to catch the eye of passersby and for them to stop and sit a spell: Harry Bergman (1887-1968), who in 1955 hired custom adobe contractors the Weir Brothers to build a roadside attraction on the newly paved State Highway. He hung out the welcome sign on January 1, 1956 and spent his remaining dozen years on this earth as its genial proprietor.