Pioneertown: A Movie Set That Became A Real Town

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In 1946, a bunch of Hollywood legends including Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, and Russell Hayden —tired of travelling to far-off locations to shoot western movies, that were very popular at the time— decided to build a Wild West set, in the High Desert of Southern California, where directors could shoot movies and the crew could live. They drove out to a spot 4 miles to the northwest of Yucca Valley, and two hours from Los Angeles, and started building facades and spaces to resemble a 19th-century western town. The town was named Pioneertown.

The project was a huge success. More than two hundred westerns were filmed at Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid, and it served as the backdrop for a large number of television shows, notably Judge Roy Bean and The Gene Autry Show. As the years rolled by and Hollywood’s interest shifted from westerns to new ideas, business in Pioneertown dwindled and the town assumed a new role—that of a tourist attraction.

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Photo credit: Helen Gordon/Flickr

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