The Secret Cave of Lincoln Heights

[From the archives]

Awhile ago a reader asked me if I found the hidden cave of Flat Top Hill. I heard the stories from many long-time residents near Griffin Ave about this cave, that had been covered up to discourage children from playing in it. I used to live on Griffin Ave and the hilltop was my backyard. I spent lots of time exploring the hill but never quite found the location of the cave.

Recently, I asked Don Quixote, my blog compadre on LA Eastside if he could explain where the cave might be. Here it is for those of you still on the quest. Please let me know if you are able to locate it. I still have not.

If you stand on Griffin Ave just past the last parking lot at Arroyo Seco Playground and look up the hill towards the Debs Park Pond (which wasn’t there years ago), between the old sanitarium bldgs, you’ll be able to see the green vegetation that comes down the hill from the old springs. I think there is a storm drain culvert under Griffin Ave that directs water from the hill into the Arroyo Seco River. At the bottom of the hill near the parking lot there is a bunch of Sycamore Trees that I think were fed by those springs. I remember how good those Sycamore trees smelled in the summer, especially at sundown.
And as for the cave above Griffin Ave below “Flattop”, if you look for the house on Griffin Ave with the wide driveway and the u shaped buildings at the rear, (I think there are two large Jacaranda trees in front), what you are seeing is what used to be the old “Indian Head Water Co.”. Above this bldg you will notice a lot of thick vegetation, we used to call it “the Baby Jungle”. At the top of the Baby Jungle can see a rocky discolored area, bare rock and granite as opposed to the grass and weeds around it. I can see this scarred area from the Pasadena Frwy when I pass. This is the entrance to the old cave, but it was collapsed or filled in many years ago. Inside the cave, which goes back towards flat top quite a long ways, it was very damp, dripping water, and a kind of moss or roots hung down from the roof of the cave. Someone once told me that this cave was used during prohibition to stash liquor by organized crime people, I can’t verify if this is true.

Just yesterday I was out on a walk and noticed what looked like a dark spot on a rock in the hill. I wondered if this was some kinda mini-cave that’s been uncovered. I would like to go investigate but I rarely walk those hills anymore.

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