Twin Lakes Park — photo from promotional brochure, circa 1926
Twin Lakes Park disappeared decades ago, although its legacy survives in the form of a few artifacts — including the remnants of the two original dams; some old deteriorated strips of asphalt that used to be Mayan Drive, one of the main access roads to the park; and a current residential area known by the name Twin Lakes, located just above the 118 Freeway east of Topanga, near the original Twin Lakes.
Twin Lakes Park Gate, looking south
One thing that no longer exists is the massive Mayan-style gate that marked one of the main entrances to Twin Lakes — straddling Mayan Drive just above Santa Susana Pass Road, a short distance west of Topanga.
Approximately the same view, looking south
You may or may not see the similarity in the shape of the background hills in the above two shots, but the second shot is my attempt to re-create the view through the Twin Lakes Park Gate, as seen in the old shot of the gate. I wasn't able to duplicate the angle exactly.
"White Heat," 1949
Twin Lakes Park's Mayan Gate made a fleeting appearance in the James Cagney film noir "White Heat," as seen in the above screen shot. As far as I've been able to determine, no one has previously identified the structure seen in this movie as the gate to Twin Lakes Park. The gate appears suddenly and is on screen only briefly, showing up during a sequence focused on a speeding car. The portion of the gate seen above, at the right of the shot, is all we see of it in the movie. Directed by Raoul Walsh, the movie is widely considered to be one of Cagney's best, and includes his iconic line, "Made it, Ma — top of the world!"
The site of the Mayan Gate today
The location of the Mayan Gate was immediately to the east of what is generally thought of as the southeast corner of the Iverson Ranch. The gate may in fact have been situated on property that at one time or other was a part of the ranch. The land shares the topography of Iverson, including its distinctive sandstone boulders. One of those boulders, seen in the above photo, remains at the site today and helps pinpoint where the gate was located. A little bit of the remains of Mayan Drive can also be seen in the above shot.
Click here to see a previous blog entry about James Cagney's connection to the Iverson Movie Ranch — including Cagney Rock, which can still be found at the site today.
If you're interested in buying "White Heat," the links above will take you to Amazon listings for DVD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.