Some say that Art Beal was an eccentric. Others call his work folk art. However you see it, California State Historical Landmark #939, known as Nitt Witt Ridge, is a one-of-a-kind creation.

Making use of what others threw away, the inventive, resourceful Beal was one of the original recyclers. Using beer cans, discarded tires, hubcaps, rusted engine parts, derelict televisions, local rocks and abalone shells, Beal spent 50 years constructing his tri-level ramshackle castle at 881 Hillcrest Drive in Cambria.

Dubbed Captain Nitt Witt by his neighbors, the reclusive man was Cambria’s garbage collector in the 1940s and 50s. After purchasing his lot in 1928, he lived and worked there until 1989.

William Hearst hired Beal to haul junk from his castle.

This eccentric collector was the town character for many years. His sense of humor shows in his use of toilet seats for picture frames.

After Beal’s death at age 96 in 1992, the place began to decline. In 1999, the 2½-acre place was restored and opened for tours. A 45-minute guided tour is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Call (805) 927-2690 to arrange a time.

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