Sometimes you’re in the mood for glamour and sometimes you’re in the mood for something a bit more gritty, or something you didn’t even know you were in the mood for…something like the wild, wild West…which has its very own style of glamour.
Way out in the desert, on our drive back from Joshua Tree, we came across an enchanting Old West Town that was built in the 1940’s and used as a film set throughout the 40’s and 50’s.
In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors, including actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They dreamed of creating an Old West set that was actually a town worth visiting, with 1880s-style false-front façades but interiors that had stuff for visitors to see and do too. Up went (from the outside) frontier stables, saloons, and jails; inside, they housed ice cream parlours, bowling alleys and motels. More than 50 films and television shows were filmed here in the 1940s and ‘50s.
These days Pioneer Town is no longer used to make Old West movies. Instead, it’s a real town with a few houses, restaurants and all the remains of the movie set that you actually walk around. If you’re an old John Wayne and Western movie buff you’ll probably find it quite worthwhile and exciting. At the very least you feel what it was like to live that lifestyle.
While location shooting and businesses here have dwindled, you can still see mock gunfights on Mane Street (pun intended). But the most happening place by far is Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, with surprisingly good live music (Robert Plant and Leon Russell have played here) in a seemingly unlikely setting. This must-see desert find also serves up awesome ribs, plus classic Santa Maria barbecue, burgers, sandwiches and salads.