Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Welcome to Paramount Ranch.

As long as I can remember weekends were for adventures.  When there is a chore that needs to be done we always looked for an adventure to sneak in too.  It seems like from birth there has been a craving to see new things and visit new places.  So when we learned that the part we were getting for our Jeep could be picked up less than an hour from where we are staying an adventure was sure to form.  Front Runner Outfitters is tucked in Agoura Hills, California, where our chore ended and our adventure began. At 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, California you can find Paramount Ranch and it is exactly what it sounds like.  A chance to step on and explore an old west movie town.  

Paramount Pictures leased the land in 1923 and the land is still in use today.  You can walk where Bob Hope walked while filming Caught in the Draft, Sandra Bullock was here filming The Lakehouse, parts of the 1988 movie The Great Outdoors was filmed right here and even Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman's Jane Seymore wandered these streets for the filming of the series from 1993 to 1998.  The list goes on and on.  This dirt has history all over it.  You can see a better list Here on the IMBD where they list the 452 most popular titles filmed here.  

In 1927 Paramount purchased the movie ranch and for 25 great years it was home to the movie magic of a forgotten era.  The location offered the flexibility to create what ever feel or location you were looking to create.  Eventually technology passed up what Paramount was looking for and they decided to sell the property.  In 1953 the south east portion property changed hands from Paramount to William Hertz for just $52,500.  As a fan of movie westerns he built up a permanent town using old prop storage sheds that Paramount had left behind.  Soon television companies began using the property to film at.  Due to failing health William Hertz was forced to sell his property in the late 1950's for $200,000.  

The Paramount Sportsman's Ranch bought the property and created a racetrack.  The Paramount Racetrack was open for a quick 18 months closing after three fatal accidents.  
Eventually the National Park Service stepped in a purchased the entire property and rebuilt the western town.  The National Park Service has a great history of only fixing what is needed for safety and preservation for the future.  They only upgraded the structural integrity of the property but kept the original look and charm of the place.  

Today you can walk through and see the town close up.  You can easily imagine how the movies were made here.  The generic sheriff station is fully equipped with a single cell inside and enough room to create an small office.  While the doors are all locked you can look through the windows and get a good idea of how things could have taken place.  

This beautiful little chapel sits on the hill across from the main hub of the tiny city.  Like everything else here it is a basic shell ready for the personal touches that the filming needs to make the set their own.  It was fascinating as we walked the dirt around the area to see these movie blanks scattered around in the dirt.  They were painted almost to a shine and you could see the crimped edge where the blank would have held its noise maker with out its accompanying danger.  Your mind can make up a million scenes where a gun fight outside the local town church might have taken place.  

And of course when you get really close you are reminded that it is just for pretend.  You can see the fake brick wall lifting at its seems a bit.  It reminds you of when you are on the Universal Studios Backlot Tour and they tell you about how they only fix up what the camera needs to see.  The front of these buildings are made up to look like an old time town.  Some of the insides of the buildings are built as usable sets as well.  If you walk behind them they tell a different story.  If you walk behind the towns hotel you will find public bathrooms and behind the building with the false brick wall is a pavilion set up with a few dozen tables.  It looks like they could cater a pretty good sized film here, but if you want to bring a picnic on a weekend then you can use them as well.  

One more adventure I am so glad we had the chance to take.  If you want to come here you should know that you can bring fido too.  Just keep him on a leash and treat the place with respect.  There are hiking trails shooting off the back of the town that you can read more about here.  Just get out there and make the memories today.  

Happy travels.  
❤ Misty










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