After retiring, stone mason Emanuele “Litto” Damonte moved from San Francisco to Napa County’s Pope Valley. Living down a country road (dirt at the time), Litto had been finding a steady stream of hubcaps in front of his house, so he began collecting and hanging them around the property.
From these bumpy beginnings would come California Historical Landmark No. 939: “Litto’s Hubcap Ranch.”
Damonte began his collection in 1942, and with the help of friends, neighbors, and occasional trips to the nearby junkyard, the number eventually swelled to more than 2,000—so many that Litto proclaimed himself the “Pope Valley Hubcap King.”
The ranch became a home for other collectibles besides the shiny wheel covers, including a wide variety of license plates, road signs, and pull tabs. He added old bottles, buoys, bells, and even deer antlers, all thoughtfully integrated around the rural spread.
After decades of assembly and many donations, the Hubcap Ranch was recognized by the state of California with landmark status, one of 11 thematic works claimed as “Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments.”
A historical marker was added to the property in 1987, two years after Damonte passed away at the age of 93. His family has held onto the Ranch and its renowned collection (although some of the originals have lost their chrome sheen over the years), and the plaque and many examples are visible from the road. Now with more than 5,000 hubcaps, Damonte’s grandson and granddaughter-in-law keep the place open for visitors when they are home. So keep an eye out for an open gate, and they will be happy to show you around.