Movie ranch

A movie ranch is a ranch that is at least partially dedicated for the creation and production of motion pictures and television productions. Originally, they were all within the 30-mile (48 km) studio zone, often in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley.

Movie ranches first came into use for location shooting in Southern California during the 1920s with the rising popularity of westerns. Hollywood-based studios found it difficult to recreate the topography of the Old West on sound stages and studio backlots, so they looked to the rustic valleys, canyons and foothills of Southern California for filming locations. Other large-scale productions also needed large, undeveloped settings for outdoor scenes, e.g., war films for their battle scenes.


To achieve greater scope, productions would conduct location shooting in yonder parts of California, Arizona, and Nevada, but travel expenses for production staff created a dispute between workers and the studios. The studios agreed to pay union workers extra if they worked out of town. The definition of out of town specifically referred to a distance of greater than 30 miles (48 km) from the studio, or beyond the studio zone.

To solve this problem, many movie studios invested in large tracts of undeveloped rural land, in many cases existing ranches, located closer to Hollywood. In most cases, the ranches were located just within the 30-mile (48 km) perimeter, specifically in the Simi Hills in the western San Fernando Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Canyon Country area of the Greater Los Angeles Area. The natural California landscape proved to be suitable for western locations and other settings.

As a result of the post-war (WWII) era suburban development raising property values, rising taxes, and the resulting urban sprawl of Los Angeles, most of these movie ranches have since been sold and subdivided. A few of these have survived as regional parks, and are still used for filming. Movie ranches have gradually moved to other regions, notably New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

Below is a partial listing of some of the famous classic Southern California movie ranches from the first half of the 20th century, including some other and newer locations.

Classic movie ranches

Apacheland Movie Ranch (Apacheland Studio)

Apacheland Studio - The tail end of 1957 and all of 1958 saw movie studios calling on ranchers in the Superstition Mountain area, such as "Quarter Circle U", "Quarter Circle W" and the "Barkley Cattle Ranch" to use their facilities as makeshift towns. One movie that was filmed during this time was Gunfight at the O.K. Corral with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. The movie is historically inaccurate, but it shows the area known today as Gold Canyon in all its beauty with the Superstitions towering over the Clanton ranch. During this time, Victor Panek contacted his neighbors in Apache Junction, Mr. and Mrs. J.K. Hutchens, to suggest the idea of building a studio in the Superstition area. Hutchens and Panek began to look for sites and soon found exactly what they were looking for, located in the Superstition Mountains in central Arizona, and intended to be the "Western Movie Capitol of the World".

Construction on the Apacheland Studio western town' began on February 12, 1959 by Superstition Mountain Enterprises and associates. By June 1960, Apacheland Studio was open for business and filmed its first TV western Have Gun, Will Travel in November 1960 and its first full-length movie The Purple Hills. This historic Arizona landmark has seen Hollywood's finest western actors walk the streets on Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon, Arizona, from its incorporation as Superstition Mountain Enterprises in 1959 as Apacheland Studio, to its demise in 2004 as Apacheland Movie Ranch. Actors such as Elvis Presley, Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, Ronald Reagan, and Audie Murphy filmed western television shows and movies, such as Gambler II, Death Valley Days, Blind Justice, Charro!, Have Gun, Will Travel, and The Ballad of Cable Hogue. The last full-length movie to be filmed was the 1994 HBO movie Blind Justice with Armand Assante, Elisabeth Shue, and Jack Black.

On May 26, 1969, fire destroyed most of the ranch. Only seven buildings survived. The sets were soon rebuilt, but another fire destroyed most of Apacheland almost 35 years later on February 14, 2004, two days after its 45th anniversary. On October 16, 2004, Apacheland closed its doors to the public permanently. The causes of both fires remain a mystery.


Big Sky Movie Ranch

Big Sky Ranch is a movie ranch located in Simi Valley, California. It has been widely used for the filming of Western television and film productions. Some of the past television episodes and productions filmed there include: Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, Father Murphy, The Thorn Birds (TV miniseries), Jericho (2006 TV series) and Carnivàle.

A fuller list of productions can be found at the Internet Movie Database

Big Sky Ranch is one of the oldest and largest movie ranches still in operation in Southern California. The ranch has been host to countless feature films, television shows, television commercials, music videos, photo shoots and special events over the past fifty years. Big Sky Ranch is a private movie ranch located within the Los Angeles 30 Mile Studio Zone. The land was originally owned by J. Paul Getty. The ranch is extremely diverse with hills, valleys, and secluded meadows making it a perfect location for filming. Big Sky Ranch was host to many television series and motion pictures over the years making it one of the most historic movie ranches in the Los Angeles Studio Zone.

A fire in 2003, destroyed most of the standing sets, including a replica of the farm house from Little House on the Prairie and sets used in the TV series Gunsmoke and many movies.

Corriganville Movie Ranch

Circa 1937, Ray "Crash" Corrigan invested in property on the western Santa Susana Pass in California's Simi Valley and Santa Susana Mountains, developing his 'Ray Corrigan Ranch' into the 'Corriganville Movie Ranch.' Most of the Range Busters film series were shot here, as well as features, such as Saddle Mountain Roundup (1941), "Bullets and Saddles" (1943), "Fort Apache" (1948), The Inspector General (1949), Mysterious Island (1961), and hundreds more .[1]

Corrigan opened portions of his vast movie ranch to the public in 1949 on weekends to explore such themed sets as a rustic western town, Mexican village, western ranch, outlaw hide-out shacks, cavalry fort, Corsican village, English hunting lodge, country schoolhouse, rodeo arena, mine-shaft, wooded lake, and interesting rock formations. In spite of Corriganville's weekend tourist trade, production of films continued. The action TV series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin used the Fort Apache set for many shots from 1954 to 1959. Roy Rogers, Lassie, and Emergency! production units also filmed scenes on the ranch. In 1966, Corriganville became 'Hopetown' when it was purchased by Bob Hope for real estate development. Only about 200 acres of the original 2,000 acres survives as a park. It is now part of the Simi Valley Park system, open to the public as the Corriganville Regional Park. Though the original movie and TV sets are long gone, many of the building concrete foundations are still extant. Corriganville Regional Park.[2]


Iverson Movie Ranch

Karl and Augusta Iverson owned a 500-acre family ranch in the Simi Hills on Santa Susana Pass above Chatsworth.[3] They allowed a movie to be shot on the property as early as 1912, with the silent movies Man's Genesis (1912), My Official Wife (1914), and The Squaw Man (1914) among the features cited as the earliest films shot on the site. A long and fruitful association soon developed between Hollywood and the Iverson Movie Ranch, which became the go-to outdoor location for Westerns in particular and also appeared in many adventures, war movies, comedies, science-fiction films, and other productions, standing in for Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and any number of exotic locations.

Buster Keaton's Three Ages (1923), Herman Brix's Hawk of the Wilderness (1938), Laurel and Hardy's The Flying Deuces (1939), John Wayne's The Fighting Seabees (1944), and Richard Burton's The Robe (1953) are just a few of the high-profile productions that were filmed at the ranch. The rocky terrain and narrow, winding roads frequently turned up in Republic serials of the 1940s and were prominently featured in chases and shootouts throughout the golden era of action B-Westerns in the 1930s and 1940s.

Hollywood's focus began to shift to the medium of television in the late 1940s, throughout the 1950s, and into the 1960s, and Iverson became a mainstay of countless early television series, including The Lone Ranger, The Roy Rogers Show, The Gene Autry Show, The Cisco Kid, Buffalo Bill, Jr., Zorro, and Tombstone Territory.[4]

An estimated total of 3,500 or more productions, about evenly split between movies and television episodes, were filmed at the ranch during its heyday. The long-running TV western The Virginian filmed on location at Iverson in the ranch's later period, as did Bonanza and Gunsmoke.

By the 1960s, the ownership of the ranch was split between two of Karl and Augusta's sons, with Joe Iverson, an African safari hunter married to Eva Iverson, owning the southern half of the ranch (the Lower Iverson) and Aaron Iverson, a farmer married to Bessie Iverson, owning the northern half (the Upper Iverson). In the mid-1960s the state of California began construction on the Simi Valley Freeway, which ran east and west, roughly following the dividing line between the Upper Iverson and Lower Iverson, cutting the movie ranch in half. The waning popularity of the Western genre and the decline of the B-movie as an important business model for the studios coincided with the arrival of the freeway, which opened in 1967, and greater development pressure, signaling the end for Iverson as a working movie ranch.

It was during this period that part of the ranch (known as the Spahn Ranch) was occupied by the notorious murderer Charles Manson and was the base for his followers known as The Family.

In 1982, Joe Iverson sold what remained of the Lower Iverson to Robert G. Sherman who almost immediately began subdividing the property. The former Lower Iverson now contains a mobile home park, the Rocky Peak Church and a large condominium development. The Upper Iverson is also no longer open to the public as it is now a gated community consisting of high-end estates along with additional condos and an apartment building.

Part of the ranch has been preserved as parkland on both sides of Red Mesa Road, north of Santa Susana Pass Road in Chatsworth. This section includes the famous "Garden of the Gods" on the west side of Red Mesa, in which many rock formations seen in countless old movies and TV shows are accessible to the public. Also preserved as parkland, unmarked, is an area on the east side of Red Mesa that includes the popular Lone Ranger Rock, which appeared beside a rearing Silver, the Lone Ranger's horse, in the opening to each episode of the "Lone Ranger" TV show.

The property that includes the site of the original Iverson homestead on the Lower Iverson is owned and is being respectfully maintained by Phyliss Murphy and Jim Ansley who occupy Joe Iverson's home which is located on Iverson Lane. The bulk of the former Iverson Ranch has been developed.

The location of the ranch was in the northwest corner of Chatsworth, Calif., along the western side of Topanga Canyon Boulevard where it currently intersects with the 118 Freeway.[5]


Jack Ingram Movie Ranch

Formerly the estate of Charles Chaplin, the 160-acre ranch was purchased by Jack Ingram in 1944 from James Newill and Dave O'Brien, who had purchased the goat ranch in order to avoid the draft during World War II. When they were declared 4F unfit for military service, they sold the ranch to Ingram.[6] Ingram purchased a bulldozer, and with the help of his friends including actors Pierce Lyden and Kenne Duncan built a western town of two streets on the site. The ranch included a house that Ingram lived in that could occasionally be seen in the background of some scenes shot at the ranch.[7] In 1947 the Ingram ranch became the first movie ranch open to the public[8] In 1956, he sold the ranch to Four Star Television Productions.

Lasky Ranch – San Fernando Valley Providencia Ranch

First National Studios with the Lasky Ranch in the distance.[9]

The First Lasky Ranch in the San Fernando Valley was located on the Providencia Ranch - In 1912, Universal purchased the property and named it "Oak Crest Ranch- This old universal ranch was built for the production of Universal 101 Brand westerns -

"The Providencia Ranch was leased by Universal Studios in 1912 before their move to Universal City. After Universal Studios moved out, they again began leasing the property. On August 4, 1918, Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company began leasing the property. It consisted of 500 acres, with an additional 1,500 acres of adjoining government land which they were allowed to use. The ranch was also known as Providencia Flats and the Lasky Ranch. Around the same time that the lease was expiring, Paramount Famous Lasky purchased the Paramount Ranch location in the Agoura area, and moved all of the ranch sets to the new location. The lease then was turned back to the Hollingsworth interests. In 1929, Warner Bros purchased a portion of the ranch from the W. I. Hollingsworth Realty Company. By 1950, Forest Lawn Cemetery owned the property. It was located across the Los Angeles River from the First National/Warner Bros studios in the area which is now Forest Lawn Cemetery."[10]

Hunkins Stables and Gopher Flats are close to Old Universal/Lasky ranch in the San Fernando Valley.

"Lasky takes old Universal ranch" reference Front Cover Wednesday August 12, 1918 (Wids Daily) later called film daily - Media History Digital Library

Lasky Movie Ranch – Ahmanson 'Lasky Mesa' Ranch

This area is noted for a filming location history of many important movies, including, The Thundering Herd (Famous Players-Lasky Co. 1925), Gone with the Wind (Selznick 1939) and They Died with Their Boots On, "Santa Fe Trail" (Warner Bros. 1940), and many others.[11]

From The Moving Picture World, October 10, 1914 (page 622 relates to the Lasky ranch and page 1078 to the new Lasky Ranch):

"The Lasky company has acquired a 4,000-acre ranch in the great San Fernando valley on which they have built a large two-story Spanish casa which is to be used in The Rose of the Ranch" which has just been started. The new ground is to be used for big scenes and where a large location is needed. A stock farm is to be maintained on the ranch. It is planned to use 500 people in the story. There will be 150 people transported through Southern California for the mission scenes. The studio will be used for the largest scene ever set up, the whole state and ground space being utilized."[12]

In 1963, the Ahmanson family's Home Savings and Loan purchased the property and adjacent land. Home Savings and Loan was the parent company of Ahmanson Land Company, and so the ranch became known as the Ahmanson Ranch. Washington Mutual Bank (WAMU) took over ownership of Home Savings and proceeded with the development plans for the ranch.[13]

The public advocacy for undeveloped open space pressure was very strong, and development was halted further by new groundwater tests showing migrating contamination of the aquifer with toxic substances from the adjacent Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) experimental Nuclear Reactor and Rocket Engine Test Facility. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the State of California purchased the land for public regional park. The Lasky Movie Ranch is now part of the very large Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, with various trails to the Lasky Mesa locale.

Lasky Mesa external links:

Monogram Ranch/Melody Ranch

Originally known as 'Placeritos Ranch', the 110-acre (45 ha) ranch was commonly referred to as the 'Monogram Ranch', and renamed 'Melody Ranch' when Gene Autry later purchased the property in 1953. It is located in lower Placerita Canyon near Newhall, California, just north of San Fernando Pass. Ernie Hickson was original owner from 1936 until his death in 1952, and built-reconstructed all original sets on the ranch. A year later in 1937 Monogram Pictures signed a long-term lease with Hickson for 'Placeritos Ranch', with terms that the ranch be renamed 'Monogram Ranch.' A brush fire destroyed most of the western sets on the ranch in 1962, and Autry sold 98-acre (40 ha), most of Melody Ranch. The remaining 12-acre (4.9 ha) property was purchased by the Veluzats in 1990 for the new 'Melody Ranch Studios' movie ranch.[14][15] [16]

The Placerita movie ranch follows in the tradition of early silent film shoots which were conducted in Placerita Canyon dating back to 1926. Tom Mix silent film westerns were shot in the canyon at that time. In 1931, Monogram Pictures took out a five-year lease on a parcel of land in central Placerita Canyon. The location of the western town that was constructed there was just east of what is now the junction of the Route 14 Antelope Valley Freeway and Placerita Canyon Road, on what is today part of Disney's Golden Oak Ranch (see below) near Placerita Canyon State Park. In 1935, as a result of a Monogram-Republic merger, the 'Placerita Canyon Ranch' became owned by the newly formed Republic Pictures. In 1936, when the lease expired, the entire western town was relocated a few miles to the north at Ernie Hickson's 'Placeritos Ranch' in lower Placerita Canyon near the junction of Oak Creek Road and Placerita Canyon Road, leased by again independent Monogram Pictures, and renamed 'Monogram Ranch' in 1937.[17]

Gene Autry, actor, western singer, and producer, purchased the 110-acre (45 ha) 'Monogram Ranch' property from the Hickson heirs in 1953, renaming it after his Sunday afternoon CBS radio show (1940-1956) and film 'Melody Ranch' (1940). Autry sold 98-acre (40 ha) of the property to Bob Hope, most of the original ranch, who renamed it Hopeville. A brushfire swept through 'Monogram Ranch' in August 1962, destroying most of the original standing western sets. However, the devastated landscape did prove useful for productions such as Combat!. Fortunately, two 11,000 square foot sound stages, a large Spanish hacienda, and a complete adobe village survived on the northeast section of the ranch.[18]

In 1990, after his horse 'Champion,' who lived in retirement there died, Autry put the remaining 12-acre (4.9 ha) ranch up for sale. It was purchased by Rene and Andre Veluzat to recreate an active movie ranch for location shooting. The Veluzats have a 22-acre (8.9 ha) complex of sound stages, western sets, prop shop, and the backlots, now known as the 'Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio' and 'Melody Ranch Studios.' [19]

The ranch has a museum open year-round; and one weekend a year the entire ranch is open to the public during the Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, held at the end of April.[20][21]

Melody Ranch Links:

Paramount Movie Ranch

"Paramount Ranch" redirects here. For Paramount Ranch Racetrack, see Paramount Ranch Racetrack.
Photo of Paramount Movie Ranch, taken February 2003 from this location looking North.

In 1927, Paramount Studios purchased a 2,700-acre (11 km2) ranch on Medea Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains, between Malibu, California and the Conejo Valley.[22] The studio built numerous large-scale sets on the ranch, including a huge replica of early San Francisco and an Old West town. It posed as Tombstone, Arizona and Dodge City, Kansas, as well as Tom Sawyer's Missouri, 13th-century China, and many other locales and eras around the world.[23][24]

It is now Paramount Ranch Park in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.[25]

Since then, the older sets have been removed, but there is a western town at the location for visitors to view. This remaining set of buildings continued to be used in filming, notably for the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman television series and the short lived HBO series Carnivàle.[26]

The Paramount Movie Ranch was also the home of the original Renaissance Faire from 1966 to 1989, and continues to be the home of the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest, held each May.[27]

Red Hills Ranch

Red Hills Ranch is a movie ranch in Sonora, California, which served as a location for Bonanza, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Little House on the Prairie and other productions. The outdoor sets built for Back to the Future Part III (1990) and used in Bad Girls (1994) were destroyed by a lightning strike wildfire in 1996.


Republic Pictures Ranch – Walt Disney Golden Oak Ranch

Golden Oak Ranch entrance gate
Main article: Golden Oak Ranch

The former Republic Pictures Movie Ranch off Soledad Canyon became the Walt Disney Golden Oak Ranch in 1959. The ranch is located in central Placerita Canyon near Newhall, California in the northern San Gabriel Mountains foothills. It was named for the Gold discovery by Francisco Lopez in the wild onion roots under the "Oak of the Golden Dream", in present-day Placerita Canyon State Park. The Ranch was still being used for occasional filming, when Walt Disney took an interest in the property. In 1959, driven by concern that the ranches of other movie studios were gradually being sub-divided, Disney purchased the 315-acre (1.27 km2) ranch. During the next five years, the Walt Disney Studios also bought additional land which enlarged the property to 691 acres (2.80 km2).

The Walt Disney Company worked closely with the State of California when a portion of the western border of the ranch was purchased for the Antelope Valley Freeway. This construction was carefully planned so that it didn't intrude into the film settings. In 2009, Disney announced the expansion of the studio complex, with master planning and environmental impact studies commencing.[28] The expanded site will be called Disney | ABC Studios at The Ranch.[29]

Spahn Movie Ranch

Main article: Spahn Ranch

The Spahn Movie Ranch is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) property located on Santa Susana Pass in the Simi Hills above Chatsworth, California.

The Spahn Movie Ranch, once owned by silent film actor William S. Hart, was used to film many westerns, particularly from the 1940s to the 1960s, including Duel in the Sun, and episodes of television's Bonanza and The Lone Ranger. A western town set was located at the ranch.

The Spahn Ranch was once home to the infamous Manson Family. A 1970 mountain wildfire destroyed the film set and the residential structures.

The Spahn Movie Ranch is now part of the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park.[30][31]


20th Century Fox Movie Ranch

Located near Malibu, in Calabasas, the 20th Century Fox Movie Ranch (aka: Century Movie Ranch & Fox Movie Ranch) was first purchased in 1946 by 20th Century Fox Studios. From 1956-1957, 20th Century Fox productions filmed their first television series there: My Friend Flicka for CBS television.

The Fox Ranch was used for most exteriors of the CBS-TV series Perry Mason (1957–66).[32]

The Century Movie Ranch was the main filming location with outdoor sets for the original MASH (film) and subsequent M*A*S*H (TV series). It was used as a location in dozens of films, including a number of the Tarzan movies, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the original Planet of the Apes film and subsequent television series.

The Fox Movie Ranch property was purchased and preserved in the new state park, Malibu Creek State Park, opened to the public in 1976. Productions have continued to be filmed there since that time.[33][34]

Other original locations

Bell Moving Picture Ranch

The Bell Moving Picture Ranch, later renamed the Bell Location Ranch, is off the Santa Susana Pass in the Simi Hills above the Spahn Movie Ranch site and Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park.

Among the many movies to film at Bell Ranch were Gunsight Ridge (1957), starring Joel McCrea; Escort West (1959), starring Victor Mature; Hombre (1967), starring Paul Newman; Gun Fever, starring Mark Stevens; and Love Me Tender (1956), the first Elvis Presley movie.

The climactic sequence in the Elvis movie Love Me Tender, a Western that also starred Richard Egan and Debra Paget, was filmed on a rugged slope at Bell Ranch known as the "Rocky Hill," with its exact location remaining a mystery for almost 60 years until it was discovered on an expedition by film historians in early 2015. The Victor Mature movie Escort West filmed at the same location, and shots from the two movies were combined to help find the site.

Many of the television Westerns used the ranch, including "Gunsmoke," "Zorro," "The Monroes," "How the West Was Won," "Dundee and the Culhane," "The Big Valley" and "Have Gun Will Travel." Even "McCloud" used the Western street and surrounding area for an episode with Dennis Weaver.[35] A Season 2 episode of Star Trek, "A Private Little War," was filmed at Bell Ranch's Box Canyon in 1968, using it to stand in as an alien world.


Columbia Ranch – Warner Brothers Ranch

Main article: Columbia Ranch

Columbia Pictures purchased the original 40-acre (160,000 m2) lot in 1934 as additional space to its Sunset Gower studio location, when Columbia was in need for more space and a true backlot/movie ranch. Through the years numerous themed sets were constructed across the movie ranch.

Formerly known as the Columbia Ranch and now the "Warner Brothers Ranch", this 32-acre (130,000 m2) movie ranch in Burbank, California, served as the filming location for both obscure and well-known television series, such as Father Knows Best, Hazel, The Flying Nun, Dennis the Menace, The Hathaways, The Iron Horse, I Dream of Jeannie (which also used the Father Knows Best house exterior), Bewitched, The Monkees, Apple's Way, and The Partridge Family (which also filmed on ranch sound stages).

A short list of the many classic feature films which filmed scenes on the movie ranch would include; Lost Horizon, Blondie, Melody in Spring, You Were Never Lovelier, Kansas City Confidential, High Noon, The Wild One, Autumn Leaves, 3:10 to Yuma, The Last Hurrah, Cat Ballou, and What's the Matter with Helen?.

It is commonly believed, though not the case, that Leave It to Beaver was filmed here, ('Beaver' actually filmed (first season) at CBS Studio Center - née Redford Studios and later at Universal Studios). The Waltons originally filmed on the Warner Bros. main lot where the recognizable house facade was located until it burned down in late 1991. A recreation of the Walton house was built on the Warner Bros. Ranch lot, utilizing the woodland mountain set originally utilized by Apple's Way, and later occasionally used by Fantasy Island TV shows. The facade remains and has been used in numerous productions such as NCIS, The Middle, and Pushing Daisies.


Pioneertown, California, in the Morongo Basin region of Southern California's Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California. The town started as a live-in Old West motion picture set on a movie ranch, built in the 1940s. The movie set was designed to also provide a place for the actors to live, while having their homes used as part of the movie set.[36] A number of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid and Edgar Buchanan's Judge Roy Bean. Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, and Russell Hayden were among the original developers and investors, and Gene Autry frequently taped his show at the six-lane Pioneer Bowl bowling alley.

RKO 'Encino Ranch'

The RKO Pictures Encino Ranch consisted of 89 acres (360,000 m2) located on the outskirts of the City of Encino, California, in the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles River and west of Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area on Burbank Boulevard. RKO Radio Pictures purchased this property as a location to film their epic motion picture Cimarron (1931), (winner of four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Writing, Best Art Direction, and Best Make-Up). Art Director Max Ree won his Oscar for creative design of the very first theme sets constructed on the movie ranch which consisted of a complete western town and a three block modern main street built as the Oklahoma (fictional) town of Osage.

In addition to Cimarron scenery, RKO continued to create a vast array of diverse sets for their ever-expanding movie ranch that included a New York avenue, brownstone street, English row houses, slum district, small town square, residential neighborhood, three working train depots, mansion estate, New England farm, western ranch, a mammoth medieval City of Paris, European marketplace, Russian village, Yukon mining camp, ocean tank with sky backdrop, Moorish casbah, Mexican outpost, Sahara Desert fort, plaster mountain range diorama, and a football field sized United States map on which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced across in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939).[37] Also available were scene docks, carpentry shop, prop storage, greenhouse, and three fully equipped soundstages with an average of 11,000 square feet each.

A short list of classic movies that contain scenes shot on the RKO Pictures Encino Ranch would include What Price Hollywood? (1932), King Kong (1933), Of Human Bondage (1934), Becky Sharp (1935), "Walking on Air" (1936), Stage Door (1937), Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), "Kitty Foyle" (1940), Citizen Kane (1941), Cat People (1942), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Dick Tracy film noir series (1945-1947), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) (Bedford Falls),They Live by Night (1948), and many more.

In 1953 Dragnet was the last project to film on the ranch for an NBC 1954 broadcast of an episode entitled "The Big Producer"[38] in which the crumbling lot played the part of a fictitious "Westside Studio". Standing sets exhibited on this particular Dragnet program were a ranch security gate entrance with a background church and house facades ('George Bailey' wrecked his car there during a snow storm in It's a Wonderful Life" 1946), a cocktail lounge exterior on Modern Street, stucco desert mountain range used in Stagecoach (film) (1939), ocean tank & sky backdrop used for Sinbad the Sailor (film) (1942), Notre Dame de Paris Carre built for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939), and (the very first sets ever built on the ranch) the Academy Award-winning western town from Cimarron (1931).

After all those unique themed sets were bulldozed under in 1954, the 'Encino Village' subdivision was built on the property with modern home designs by architect Martin Stern, Jr.. [39][40]

Will Rogers State Historic Park

The former estate of American humorist Will Rogers: with his historic residence, equestrian ranch, and regulation polo field; are now within the Will Rogers State Historic Park beside Rustic Canyon in Pacific Palisades. While not dedicated to location shoots in his era or now, the property has been used for movie, TV, and print ad filming since his death.

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains in western Los Angeles, the property was given to the state for the in 1944, is and open to the public. Extensive restoration is underway.[41] The park link to the [42]


Newer movie ranches

J.W. Eaves Movie Ranch

Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the J.W. Eaves Movie Ranch was opened in the early 1960s with their first production being the CBS television series Empire in 1962. Over 250 other productions have filmed here over the years including The Cheyenne Social Club, Chisum, Easy Rider and Young Guns II. In 1998, a tornado touched down one mile from the film crew of Wishbone's Dog Days of the West as they were shooting the western scenes. It dissipated as it headed toward the set.

The Eaves Ranch is open to the public.

For the last eleven years, the Eaves ranch has been home to the Thirsty Ear roots music festival.

Skywalker Ranch

Main article: Skywalker Ranch

The Skywalker Ranch is not a movie ranch in the traditional sense, but rather is the location of the production facilities for film and television producer George Lucas in Marin County, California. Based in secluded but open land near Nicasio in Northern California, the property encompasses over 4,700 acres (19 km2), of which all but 15 acres (61,000 m2) remain undeveloped.

Southfork Ranch

Main article: Southfork Ranch

Southfork Ranch is a working ranch in Parker, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas, that is used for some location filming. Notably, it was the backdrop for the 1980s prime time soap opera Dallas and its 2010s continuation.

Circle M City

Circle M City, in Sanford, North Carolina, is the set for the Christian movie Cowboy Trail. Backing up to 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land, this town features a church that seats 50 people, a mercantile, bank, saloon, livery, jail, costumes, and horses.

Sable Ranch

Sable Ranch was a 400-acre (1.6 km2) ranch in Santa Clarita, featuring lakes, a western town, a hacienda, barn, fields, and a train. The large field enables the construction of large sets and has been used by numerous film and television series including The A-Team and more recently 24 and Wipeout.

The ranch was destroyed in the Sand Fire wildfire on July 24, 2016.[43] [44]

See also


  1. Ray 'Crash' Corrigan. access date: 5/22/2010
  2. "Corriganville Regional Park." access date: 5/11/2010.
  3. The Valley Times, "Fabulous Iverson Ranch Monument to Enterprise", June 23, 1958
  4. 'Iverson Movie Ranch: History, Filmography, vintage Photos.' access date: 5/15/2010.
  5. Map. access date: 5/15/2010.
  6. Schneider, Jerry L Western Movie Making Locations Vol 1 Southern California: Vol 1 Southern California, 2011
  7. "Jack Ingram Western Movie Ranch". 1947-10-27. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  8. p.128 Beeton, Sue Travel, Tourism and the Moving Image Channel View Publications, 2015
  9. "A History of Burbank (1967) - The City of Burbank". Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  10. "Providencia Ranch". Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  11. "Ahmanson: filming location history." access date: 5/11/2010.
  13. "Lasky Mesa." access date: 5/14/2010.
  14. "Melody Ranch History." access date: 5/16/2010.
  15. Leon Worden. "Melody Ranch: Movie Magic in Placerita Canyon". Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. Retrieved 2003-03-29.
  16. melodyranchstudio. 'The Town'.' access date: 5/15/2010.
  17. melodyranchstudio. 'Monogram-Melody Ranch History' access date:5/15/2010.
  18. Monogram-Melody Ranch. access date: 5/15/2010
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Further reading

External links

Paramount Movie Ranch Links:

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