Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rubel Casle

 Entry gate to Rubelia

We went on our first Atlas Obscura tour a couple of years ago and enjoyed it so much that we register for local trips whenever we can. On Sunday, we visited the Rubel Castle, an amazing handmade "fortress," located in the foothills of Glendora. Our tour guide was Scott Rubel, nephew of his uncle Michael, the mastermind and enduring force behind the castle.

 Though he died in 2007, Michael's name still appears
on the castle's mailbox

Built primarily of stones gathered from the surrounding area, construction of the castle began in 1968 and continued until 1984, thanks in large part to the volunteer labor of friends, neighbors, and family. Today the grounds are managed by the Glendora Historical Society, though a few historians and artists also live there. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Monument sign at the castle's entrance

A prime example of folk architecture, the castle is an eclectic collection of buildings and mechanical artifacts assembled, over many years, by Michael Rubel. Dusty old mementos include an assortment of early 20th-century cars and ancient farm equipment, as well as a red caboose, which, at one point, was someone's home. Wooden water towers recall a time when water was pumped via a windmill, and there's even an old swing.

Red caboose in the backyard

One of the many cars Michael collected as a teenager

1940s Ford pickup used on the old Rubel farm

Stamp machine decorating one of several garages

Tim taking a swing

Old water towers and windmill

With its turrets, secret passageways, working clock tower, and bottle house, the castle looks like it belongs more on Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island than in the middle of a mid-century tract-house neighborhood. Every young child's dream home! And all made of scavenged and donated materials.

Castle exterior

Above the castle's drawbridge--the bucket was used to haul
stones to the top for building

Living quarters, looking west from interior courtyard

Looking up and east

Clock tower--clock rings on the hour
and half-hour

Large courtyard

Smaller interior courtyard 

Upper level of smaller courtyard

"Found art" objects

Lovely donated door

Narrow passageways

And even narrower balcony

Catwalks from one of the towers (yikes!!)

Bottle house exterior

And interior--bottles eerily illuminated from outside

Escape tunnel from inside the castle

Once inside the castle walls, we were amazed by all the machines and historic memorabilia the Rubels collected: artifacts from Glendora native and fan-dancer Sally Rand, route 66 items, musical instruments, electrical equipment, and more.

Old Coke machine

Machine shop

On-site bar decorations

Michael's living quarters, now a museum

Michael's former bedroom

Tim admiring ancient electrical equipment  

Huell Howser filmed Rubel's Castle twice, calling it one of his favorite Southern California landmarks. And now we know why. We highly recommend that everyone visit at least once!

Our intrepid Atlas Obscura group

Photo of Michael Rubel (on right)