Karl Gerber

January 1, 2023

El Caballero | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Tarzana

During the 1920s and 1930s the San Fernando Valley was replete with country clubs and riding stables. Many of these were short lived. The original El Caballero Country Club and the Hollywood Hills Country Club allegedly went out of business due to the depression. To some extent these two country clubs were built to sell home sites and homes in the area.

The original El Caballero County Club opened in 1924. It was on land that General Harrison Gray Otis (the publisher of the Los Angeles Times) purchased in 1915 after the land was acquired by the Suburban Homes Company (the entity that sold the San Fernando Valley as Tract 1000 in the greatest land sale in California history). Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer of Tarzan and the namesake for Tarzana, acquired the land in February of 1919. This land was often referred to as 550 acres south of Reseda and Ventura Boulevard. By 1920 Burroughs was involved in the sale of, “Tarzan” gasoline. By 1922 Burroughs was selling lots from his original Tarzana holdings.

The original El Caballero Country Club was established in 1924. The club’s Board of Governors included luminaries such as: Edgar Rice Burroughs, W.D. Longyear (developer of the Longridge Estates in Sherman Oaks by the late 1930s), Harry H. Merrick (Developer of the Hollywood Hills Country Club homes in Eastern Sherman Oaks and Studio City which abutted the Hollywood Hills Country Club), Irving Smith (Advertising Manager of the Los Angeles Times), Marion R. Gray (Clothing Manufacture who built 824 S. Los Angeles in 1926), and Alphonzo E. Bell (Developer of Bel Air), and Merritt Adamson (Proprietor of the Adhor Dairy Farm located at 18000 Ventura Boulevard from at least 1919 until 1947).

The original site of El Caballero Country Club traveled through parts of two large canyons 6,588 yards. A Los Angeles Times article claimed it featured, “Among its best holes a pair of famously diminutive par threes, the 144-yard fifth and the 115-yard 17th. At the former, a mid-iron generally was required to find an L-shaped green perched just above the canyon; the latter was notorious for its tiny, bunker-ringed putting surface.”

The largest abode on the ranch was used as the club house.

This was a home Otis built when he briefly owned the land. There were numerous swimming pools built on various levels which allegedly had waterfalls falling into the next level of swimming pool.

Perhaps due to a lack of high class restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, or the nature of the original members, luncheons and important dinners were held in Valley country clubs including El Caballero. Many of these events were reported in the local newspapers, and mentioned prominent developers such as Merrick attended.

In 1927 the El Caballero Country Club was home to the 1927 Los Angeles Open.

Also, in 1927 the top vote for the name of the city was Tarzana, and Runnymead became Tarzana.

The original El Caballero was lost to bankruptcy during the depression.


Burroughs died in 1950 and was not part of the new El Caballero Country Club. Burroughs involvement in the El Cabarello Country Club was short lived. His involvement in Tarzana was not.

In 1927 he built an office and library at 18352-18354 Ventura Boulevard.

His ashes were buried underneath a large walnut tree in front of 18354 Ventura Boulevard. He continued to lead civic events in Tarzana through the 1930s.

Many thanks is given to https://erbzine.com for information about Burroughs. The site is maintained by an ancestor of Burroughs and features significant, otherwise unavailable information.


In 1957 Bernie Shapiro founded the new El Caballero Country Club on land adjacent to the old club. Unlike other clubs of the day race and religion were not factors in memberships. All that was required was good moral character. Nonetheless, Otis’ old ranch house was razed (which may have been in a bad state of dis-repair) and a new club house was built.

The El Caballero Country club exists today as a dominant place for golf, social lives, and major life events. Its grounds are beautifully maintained, and there are spectacular views.