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Art Beal, AKA Captain Nitt Witt, greets the Roadside America Team at his gate in 1985.
Art Beal, AKA Captain Nitt Witt, greets the Roadside America Team at his gate in 1985.

Nitt Witt Ridge

Field review by the editors.

Cambria, California

Nitt Witt Ridge was constructed and inhabited by a colorful character named Arthur Harold Beal (aka "Captain Nitt Witt" or "Der Tinker Paw"). He began building it in 1928 on a piece of property that cost him $500, and lived there almost until the day he died in 1992. Nitt Witt Ridge always had the appearance of a post-earthquake death trap from afar, but up close it was an imaginative assemblage of sculpted junk -- stone walls inlayed with bottles, rusty metal, busted TV sets, toilet seats, bathtubs, abalone shells, tire rims, and lots of Busch beer cans.

Captain Nittwitt.

We visited Art in 1985 -- although our VHS video camera was merrily shorting out during the 30 minute interview. But even a fleeting burst of Captain Nitt Witt seems sufficient.

An official plaque mounted on one of Art's stone walls in June 1986 designated Nitt Witt Ridge as State Historical Landmark No. 939, "One of California's remarkable twentieth cnetury folk art environments."

Here are our notes on the state of Captain Nitt Witt in 1991: Art Beal is now 96, senile, and refuses to leave Nitt Witt Ridge. According to the Chamber of Commerce, Nitt Witt Ridge is closed to the public, though it was mistakenly listed in the 1990 California tourism brochure and "hundreds of people showed up" wanting to get inside. Those that did "were appalled" (among other things, Nitt Witt Ridge has never been connected to the town sewer system). Art gets his food from Meals On Wheels, and Nitt Witt Ridge's California landmark status, apparently meant Art doesn't have to pay property taxes. Art was shipped off to a local hospital a couple of years back, but after a few days he disappeared from his room. He had hitched back to Nitt Witt Ridge.

Captain Nitt Witt.

Plumber Michael O'Malley and his wife Stacey bought Nitt Witt Ridge in 1999 (ironic, since the property had no running water hookup), and for a few years conducted informative and fun tours and sold souvenirs. The property was listed for sale in 2019, and tours were still available by appointment. In June 2022 the property was reported to have been sold.

Nitt Witt Ridge

881 Hillcrest Drive, Cambria, CA
Highway 1 to Cambria Drive. Left onto Main Street. A sign on Main Street directs you the rest of the way. Private property; visible from the street.
Tours by appt only. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Donation $10.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

O'Man the OllalieberryO'Man the Ollalieberry, Cambria, CA - < 1 mi.
Scarecrows and Harvest FestivalScarecrows and Harvest Festival, Cambria, CA - < 1 mi.
Cows of HarmonyCows of Harmony, Harmony, CA - 6 mi.
In the region:
Monolith, Atascadero, CA - 25 mi.

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