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This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


LAistory: Dan the Miner

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Photo used with permission of M. London.

In 1849, a flood of people came to California to cash in on the gold rush. They spent years bent over rivers, sifting for gold. Sometimes they made a fortune. Others, they came away empty handed. In this town, perseverance can really pay. Or sometimes it just gets you even more screwed. The “Dan the Miner” Statue has stood in Carthay Square since 1925 and has certainly seen both sides of this virtue. “The Pioneer” by Henry Lion stands about seven feet tall and weighs 512 pounds. He was designed as part of a fountain that stood in Carthay Center, and like many other works of art in the area, he celebrates the explorers who settled the west. He holds a pan (some think it looks like a deep dish pizza) from which water once flowed to a pool at his feet.

Though presumably Dan is still looking for gold, he no longer has a pond to search. Now he stands, somewhat inexplicably on a grassy median at San Vicente between McCarthay Vista and Del Valle Drive. He is shaded by a large tree, and easy to miss if you’re driving passed.

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Program, Dan the Miner, Statue, Fountain, Carthay Circle
Perhaps some people thought no one would notice if Dan just up and vanished. About a year ago, during a rash of statue robberies (most of them were in front yards) spawned by rising copper prices, a couple of guys decided that Dan was fair game. But people in close knit Carthay Circle noticed right away - and not just because the thieves had driven up onto the lawn beside him. The perpetrators were called in by a suspicious scrap yard owner. Dan had been bisected by his captors (who were later picked up by police) and lay, diminished, in a corner.Last month, Dan was reinstalled on his corner, to witness traffic, delight children and listen to homeless guys panhandle. He is now firmly attached to the granite under his fake boulder. With any luck, Dan the Miner will continue to persevere for years to come.

Dan the Miner, San Vicente at McCarthay Vista and Del Valle Drive.

Program photo from the inauguration of "The Pioneer" used with permission of vokoban.

LAistory is our series that takes us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today.

Check out our other entries in the series:

Val Verde; Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe; An eclectic house in Beverly Hills; Echo Park's Bonnie Brae House; Marineland of the Pacific; Grand Central Air Terminal; LA's Own Wrigley Field; How LA got its name; The wreck of the Dominator; The 1925 "Hollywood Subway."; The Pink Lady of Malibu; Lions Drag Strip; Disneyland...when it was cheap to get in; The ugliest building in the city; Union Station; Union Station's Fred Harvey Room; A Smelly Mystery at another train station; The Egyptian Theatre; Pilgrimage Bridge; The "It" Girl, Clara Bow; Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin; Get Involved!; Houdini's House; Spanish Kitchen; The Platinum Blonde; Chutes Park; Fatty Arbuckle; The Brown Derby; Griffith Park; The Outpost Sign; Cross Roads of the World; Sowden House; Monkey Island ; Carthay Circle Theater; The Post-War House & the Home of Tomorrow;