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LAistory: Los Angeles Alligator Farm

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Unfortunately, you were born too late. You missed the alligator farm. At the turn of the century, the Lincoln Heights neighborhood popular as a weekend get away for Angelenos. In 1907, Francis Earnest and his partner, Joe "Alligator" Campbell opened an alligator farm (It was right next door to their ostrich farm. I'm not kidding.)

With 2000 alligators and a smattering of turtles, iguanas and snakes, the farm offered such attractions as watching the alligators being fed with live chickens, perform tricks and wrestle with humans. The (tasteful) gift shop featured a wide selection of products made with alligator skin, including shoes, luggage and wallets.

Perhaps most surreal of all, at the "The Most Stupendous Aggregation of Alligators Ever Exhibited," you could ride a saddled alligator around the park. No, really!

Apparently, it was a popular site for fraternity pranks, as pledges would be forced to try to steal an alligator off the property. There were other ways for the alligators could make field trips. Sometimes, when rain flooded the nearby reservoir, it would overflow into the farm, giving the alligators an opportunity to swim into the lake, or even getting into canals or backyard pools. Even when they weren't roaming free, they made their whereabouts known by hollering at each other in the middle of the night.