Junkyard paradise in Mentone shows life work of retired yacht boat captain

MENTONE, Calif. (KABC) -- Retired yacht boat captain Peter Van Horn, or "Captain Pete" as he likes to be called, has been collecting junk for more than three decades.

Just off Highway 38 in Mentone, a giant statue of Paul Bunyan looks out on Horn's yard, while a rooster and Statue of Liberty head nests on the roof of the 68-year-old's home.

It all started with Paul Bunyan. The statue was a Christmas gift to Horn's 3-year-old son.

"It's been standing there since '83," says Horn. "It is a disease I think. Just buying junk, I love stuff."

The two-acre property, nicknamed "The Ranch," is filled to the brim with eclectic and wacky finds. His collection includes a tinman named Elvis to greet you, a collection of outboard motors along a fence and several movie props such as the plane used in the movie "1941" starring John Belushi.

His daughter, Chelsea Alva, says her childhood was filled with adventure during her weekend visits, with birthday gifts including a Japanese rocket. Now Alva brings her own children to visit.

"He's got a nickname and a story behind everything so it's fun to ask him where everything came from," says Alva.

Captain Pete is a gracious host eager to show his life's work collecting and crafting, and although he may go by captain, he could also be called a bit of an artist.

"Urban artist, eccentric, something yeah I think so," says Horn.

The ranch is not open to the public, but if you happen to catch Captain Pete while he is home, he might give you a peek inside.
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