New Ownership Makes Pioneertown Optimistic

Fresh Growth Expected in Movie Village in Desert That Offers Western setting

The faded store fronts, hitching rails, dirt Main St. and other mementos of early California are still much the same in Pioneertown, the movie and television shooting location 120 miles from Los Angeles just off the Twentynine Palms highway in the San Bernardino County desert.

Mostly the same people live there and provide the crowd scenes and bit actors needed when the cameras are turning.

New Spirit of Optimism

But there’s a new spirit of optimism up and down the main stem of Pioneertown, following the recent change in ownership.

Bill Murphy of Culver City and Fletcher Jones of Los Angeles, car dealers, obtained title to the 23,000 acres comprising this unique settlement in Yucca Valley. With the rest of the desert country enjoying an influx of population, the Pioneertown folks figure there may be some growth there, too.

The hamlet of false fronts and Wild West atmosphere was started originally by a film-land group including Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, Bob Nolan, Russell Hayden, Tim Spencer and some others, with Curtis the first president and general manager, followed by Hayden.

Gene Autry Active

Gene Autry has been making some TV pictures there, as late as January, because the location is ideal for realistic westerns. There is a circular stone horse trough, not only handy for watering the bosses but for bad men to peek around while firing six-guns at the galloping hero, Indians or bank robbers.

There is magnificent scenery framed by snow-covered peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains since Pioneertown is only 22 miles below Big Bear Lake.

Some of the local residents – there are some 130 in the area – raise poultry because the high desert air is ideal for turkeys and Chickens. Others make a living from the horses of tourists who enjoy meandering through the city of false fronts. Some are on modest retirement incomes and there are real life prospectors who don’t mind coming out of the hills for some real dollars from the TV directors.

Postmaster and Waitress

Postmaster Alice White varies her post-office duties in the little post-office with helping at the lunch counter. Her son Skipper, a 9-year-old rough-and-tough cowhand, when not hanging around the movie folk enjoys climbing on the old stagecoach, buckboards and other transportation relics conveniently parked along the main street for movie props.

Apr. 5, 1954 - LA Times