Nitt Witt Ridge

Tours are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and reservations are required. Do call ahead of time; 805-927-2690.

The Nitt Witt Ridge is a home built by artist/recluse Art Beal also known as Capt. Nit Wit. Nitt Witt Ridge sits on a hill at 881 Hillcrest Drive at the northwest end of Cambria. You can’t miss it–when you round the curve in the road and come upon it, you know you’re in the presence of awe inspiring eccentricity. The three-level house, its foundations carved into a steep hillside, was constructed almost entirely of salvaged materials, beachcombed treasures, and artfully arranged junk.

Beal, who was garbage collector for the town of Cambria in the 1940s and ’50s, made good use of what other Cambrians were throwing away, as well as of the natural materials on the property, in the nearby pine forests, and on the area’s beaches.

Beal bought his hillside lot in 1928, and spent most of the next 50 years carving out the terraces with only a pick and shovel, and creating his very own “castle on a hill.” Beal, also known as “Dr. Tinkerpaw,” used whatever he could find–beer cans, discarded tiles, old tires and hubcaps, rusted engine parts, tv antennas, driftwood, local rock, and, in the days when the Pacific red abalone (Haliotis refuscens) was still plentiful along this coast–abalone shells to line the stairways connecting the many levels of the house and gardens.