Over the years on the blog, I have made my love of two particular TV shows, Batman and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., very apparent, whether through cosplay, cons, museum visits, or filming locations. One thing these two shows have in common is the use of the Bronson Canyon and Caves as a filming location, and we recently made the pilgrimage to this famous filming spot.
Over the last week my friend Mel (of Deela Designs) was staying with us. Mel is a fellow cosplay friend, with a passion for all things nerdy, and during her stay we had many fun adventures, including a visit to Paramount Ranch. Like me, Mel enjoys HBO’s Westworld, and after she heard about my visit to Paramount Ranch, she wanted to see it for herself. As luck with have it, her visit coincided with a unique tour of Paramount Ranch called “Set to Screen” which gave us the rare opportunity to actually step inside some of the buildings.
The tour is lead by a volunteer ranger of the National Parks, as Paramount Ranch is indeed a National Park, and takes visitors on an hour long tour of the buildings, and includes showing photographs from the various TV shows and movies that have filmed there. Unlike many backlots, which uses facades for exterior shots, and sound stages for interior shots, most of Paramount Ranch’s buildings are practical, so they can be filmed from both the outside and the inside. But Paramount Ranch isn’t without its very own sound stage as well! Which I had no idea existed, as it is inside an old barn. The sound stage was home to some of the interior sets for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman when it shot at Paramount Ranch during its run from 1993 to 1998. During the show, it developed a westward expansion of the railroad plot, and was in need of a train station, which it built, and left. However, the church that sits in the field is not the one from Dr. Quinn, but, like the train station from Dr. Quinn, was built for Westworld, but left at the request of the park. Apparently HBO was a little reluctant to leave it, so they altered it by removing the steeple, taking off the shutters, and repainting it, so it didn’t look as iconic at first glance. I also learned more about how movies and TV shows work with already established buildings to change them to look totally different. For example, the large orange building was given a brick facade when this area was used in another HBO series, Carnivale, but was of course removed so the building could return to its western esthetic. I highly recommend taking this tour, which is free, you just have to stay tuned to the events page for the Santa Monica Mountains. The tour is an hour, and only involves walking around the western town portion of the park, which is small, with no steep inclines. If you take the tour, please remember to be respectful of the buildings as they are almost 100 years old, and just barely standing, and let’s face it, they aren’t going to get too much funding from the government who is basically having a mini war with the National Parks, but you can do your part by donating if you visit Paramount Ranch, as they have a small donation box near the entrance.
It should be noted in advance that this post talks about the ending of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and contains spoilers.
In the ever long list of places to go and things to do here in California, filming locations are one of my favorite things to go out and visit. The Point Dume Beach, aka the “Forbidden Zone” from Planet of the Apes has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time, and we finally made it out there last Saturday, and boy what a day. In the days leading up to our visit I had been doing research on the location as well as rewatching my favorite show, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and realized that Point Dume was also used in the episode “Bounty Hunters’ Convention”. Then I read that the location is also where Major Nelson finds Jeannie’s bottle in the Pilot of I Dream of Jeannie, another favorite show of mine!
When Patrick and I decided to stop in Vegas on our way to Idaho, I suggested we stay at Circus Circus, as I am a fan of the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever, as the hotel is featured somewhat prominently in the film. Also we were able to visit two more filming locations that I thought would be fun to share as well!
I think it’s fair to note that when discussing filming locations, there will be some spoilers involved! So you have been warned!
Over the weekend Patrick and I visited Corriganville Park, the former location of Corriganville, a western backlot and amusement park of sorts from 1949 to 1965.
Corriganville was built by movie and TV actor Ray Bernard, but better known as Crash Corrigan. After going on a hunting trip in Simi Valley with fellow actor, Clark Gable, in 1935, Corrigan fell in love with the area. In 1937, Corrigan purchased over 1,000 acres of land, and built his home there. He eventually went on to build an entire western backlot, dubbed Silvertown, and many films and TV showers were filmed there, including Fort Apache, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, How the West was Won, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and more. In 1949 Corrigan decided to open his backlot to the public, and the area turned into an amusement park on weekends, while still being a fully functioning backlot during the week. Think of it like a blend of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.
He also allowed film crews to build their own sets, as long as they left them standing after filming, which is how the area got a “Corsican Village” after Howard Hughes’ 1950 film Vendetta.
After selling Corriganville in 1965 to Bob Hope, the area suffered two fires, one in 1971 and another in 1979, leaving almost nothing standing. Today, Corriganville is a park, and visitors can walk among the concrete foundations and visit what remains of a man-made lake that was originally used for the Jungle Jim series, but was used in for a variety of films, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and The African Queen, as it featured a camera house built under a bridge with thick glass windows, allowing for underwater filming.
Continue reading for images of the remains of Corriganville, postcards of what it looked like, and more!
Being the fan of westerns that I am, I was immediately taken in by the new HBO incarnation of Westworld. Even though I enjoyed the original 1973 film, it wasn’t without its flaws, which is why I was open to a new take on it, and I can say the show did not let me down, and ended its first season with me begging for more. Parts of the show, including its jaw-dropping finale were filmed at the very accessible Paramount Ranch (which we visited before, back in 2015, you can view that post here) so I felt it was time for a revisit! I also took along my friend, Kaitlyn, also a fan of the show, who had never visited Paramount Ranch before.
If you didn’t read my previous post on Paramount Ranch, but are familiar with the 1990s TV show Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, then this will look very familiar, as it was used for Colorado Springs. It was also used in the sci-fi sudo-western, Firefly.
Between our first visit and this one, little changed, with the exception of fresh paint and the addition of the church, which was used in Westworld, and I was delighted to find still there.
Keep reading for more images of Paramount Ranch!
No, that’s not a typo, I really did mean “mane” like a horse’s mane, because today I’m sharing some images from one of my favorite high desert locations, Pioneertown, and it really is Mane Street there.
Just after my family left from visiting for my grandmother’s services, Patrick’s mother came to visit for a week, and when she departed, he and I headed out for the high desert of Joshua Tree for a few nights for some much needed R&R. After checking in at my favorite place to relax, the Joshua Tree Inn, we headed up to Pioneertown for dinner at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.
Pioneertown was founded in 1946 a group of Hollywood personalities, but lead by cowboy actors Dick Curtis and Russell Hayden, who decided it was time for a permanent 1880s style town for filming the popular westerns of the day. It was the legend himself, Roy Rogers who broke ground for the first building on September 1, 1946. The town takes its name from western singing group, Sons of the Pioneers, which Rogers was a part of.