It Is Hard To Tell What Is Real And What Is Make-Believe in Pioneertown
A speeding a stage coach leans previously as it pounds into the main street of Langtry, Tex., sending turkeys scrabbling and gobbling in all directions.
The stage passengers catch their breath and look at the little town, it’s tiny buildings and signs all proclaim one ownership: Judge Roy Bean.
However, the Langtry, Tex., just described is not the Langtry, Tex., of history, but only make-believe and situated in San Bernardino county.
The scene is from television’s newest Western series, Judge Roy Bean, starting Edgar Buchanan (as a cantankerous old judge dishes out all The law west of the Pecos) and young Jack Beutel. The latter played opposite Jane Russel in “The Outlaw.”
BACKDROP FOR FILMS
Roy Bean is being filmed in Pioneertown four miles north of Yucca Valley. This quaint old collection of real and make-believe buildings was built for one purpose — to be use as a backdrop for western movies, both television and regular.
Outside the beans series, produced by Russell Hayden, himself a one time western performer and the sidekick “Lucky” of Hopalong Cassidy. Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions has shot “The Champ” TV series at Pioneertown, and the Cisco kid television plays were filmed there.
The town itself — where about 60 year-round residents live–and the scenery was “discovered” by the late Dick Curtis – a much-hissed Western villain. Curtis was out riding one day when he came across the Technicolored scenery what now is Pioneertown. Buy a business publication:
“Dick Curtis . . raised up from the saddle, gazed at the scenery . . . and said “This is it.”
“For Dick, a long search ended. Here hundred 25 miles from Los Angeles was the perfect setting for outdoor western pictures. At an elevation of 4000 feet.
Within a distance of a few miles beheld scenery reminiscent of the high flat top mesa’s of New Mexico and Utah, the Dakota badlands, the Colorado Rockies and the rugged terrain of Arizona.”.
So Pioneertown was on its way. The year 1946.
Curtis rounded up about 18 of his film pals to form the Pioneertown Corp. The town was named for the Sons of the Pioneers, beating out another suggested title, Rogersville, for Roy Rogers. All are connected with the early development of the town and it’s 31,000 and surrounding acres.
Soon buildings blooms along the towns Mane (for a horses mane) St. The structures had the clapboard fronts planks sidewalks and old lamps of the West, circa 1870-90.
A walking visitor (horseless carriages still are not allowed on Mane) may see the Red Dog Saloon where a sign proclaims no dogs allowed, the Klip ‘n Kurl tonsorial shop, a giant feed barn and corral.
Other businesses which have quaint names and are “open for business” are the Pioneer Bowl (bowling alley), Honey Fellers Real Estate, Town House (20-unit hotel) Golden Stallion Restaurant and the Red Dog.
Since Pioneertown’s beginnings nine years ago it has changed hands several times and the corporation now is owned by to Los Angeles auto dealers Bill Murphy and Fletcher Jones.
Real estate man Honey Fellers says it is hoped some of the area will be open for subdivision “by next spring.” Perhaps one of the towns most famous “weekend” residents is old-time movie actress Minna Gumbell.
Hayden, who is producing the being series, on his own property located just south of the main section.
The road from Yucca Valley to Big Bear passes through Pioneertown and some of the most unusual scenic beauty to be found in all the west. It winds through craggy rock formations, up Burns Canyon and onto a plateau for some of the largest Joshua trees in the state are to found.
The road passes through Rimrock four miles from Pioneertown. Rimrock is a picturesque settlement of 10 homes. With Pioneertown’s expansion, Rimrock also expects to grow.
The road passes by the old Rose Mine where oldtimers claim 6 million dollars in gold was once taken.
Pioneertown residents Believe that when the Big Bear Rd. is paved the town will become even more popular as the gateway to the winter sport area for Morongo basin and Palm Springs residents.
They have faith the Pioneertown country with all its wild and colorful beauty is only beginning to grow.