Corriganville Movie Ranch

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For the town in the eastern United States, see Corriganville, Maryland.

Corriganville Movie Ranch was a working film studio and movie ranch for outdoor location shooting, as well as a Western-themed tourist attraction. The ranch, owned by actor and stuntman Ray "Crash" Corrigan, was located in the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains in the Santa Susana Pass area of Simi Valley in eastern Ventura County, California.

Actors in an outdoor shooting-and-death scene, 1963
Children playing at Corriganville, 1963.

Movies[edit]

Built on land purchased by Corrigan in 1937, the ranch provided scenery as well as man-made structures and sets, and was the backdrop for movies and television programs such as Fort Apache, Buffalo Bill in Tomahawk Territory, The Robe, The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Sky King, Circus Boy, and Star Trek.

The visual environment was that of a picturesque California oak woodland. The ranch provided terrain such as lakes, mountains, caves, rock outcroppings and overhangs, and large boulders. The small man-made lake featured a cliff waterfall, as well as an underwater bunker with windows that would allow underwater scenes to be shot.

The property included the Army fort built for John Ford's 1947 film Fort Apache that was subsequently rented to many other film productions by Corrigan.[1]

Other sets included Silvertown, a western street with saloon, hotel, jail, livery stable, corral, blacksmith, shops, and a bank. There was also an outlaw shack and a church that doubled as a schoolhouse. Corrigan's own home on the property was used for ranch-house exterior shots.

Cowboy stars who filmed there include: Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Buster Crabbe, John Wayne, Smiley Burnette, Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels, Charles Starrett, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, Tex Ritter, and of course Crash Corrigan himself.

Estimates of the number of movies and television shows filmed there range from the hundreds to the thousands.

Tourism[edit]

The ranch was open to the public on weekends and holidays from 1949 to 1965. For an admission price of one dollar, visitors could experience a variety of stuntman shows, movie and TV actors (often Crash himself) signing autographs and posing for pictures, western street movie sets ("Silvertown"), frontier Army fort ("Fort Apache"), and Mexican village, all made up of real structures and not just set fronts.[2] Other weekend attractions included live western music, Indian crafts, stagecoach rides, pony rides, and boating on the ranch's artificial lake.

Transition[edit]

In 1965 Ray Corrigan sold the property, which was acquired by comedian and property speculator Bob Hope. A housing subdivision called Hopetown was developed and built on a parcel near the park entrance. In the late 1960s and early 1970s part of the site was used for motorcycle racing. In 1970 the ranch was swept by fire. One of the last movies filmed there was Vigilante Force (1976). In 1979 another fire destroyed virtually all of the remaining structures. In 1988, 190 acres (0.77 km2) of land comprising the principal working areas of the original Corriganville Ranch were purchased by the City of Simi Valley for use as a regional park.

Regional park[edit]

Foundations from old movies sets at Corriganville Regional Park

Now named Corriganville Regional Park, the site of Corriganville Movie Ranch is a public park operated by Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.[3]

The park has various concrete and brick foundations, the remains of movie and theme park buildings. Several signs present photographs and descriptions of filming locations. Hiking trails provide views from dramatic rock formations that made the park a popular filming location from 1930s to 1960s. The park and the entire Santa Susana Pass area has many sites and vistas seen in movies and especially 1950s television "westerns".

The park's eastern area is part of the Santa Susana Pass wildlife corridor connecting the Simi Hills (and the Santa Monica Mountains) with the Santa Susana Mountains (and Tehachapi Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains). Hiking trails provide exploration and views.[4] Rocky Peak Park is adjacent to the east.[5] Several historic photos and pieces of memorabilia from Corriganville are on display at the nearby Santa Susana Depot.

References[edit]

  1. ^ p.55 Lewis, C. Jack White Horse, Black Hat: A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row Rowman & Littlefield, 1 Jan 2002
  2. ^ Jorrey, Kyle (June 9, 2006). "Will Corriganville ever be restored to its past glory?". Simi Valley Acorn (Simi Valley, CA). Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Corriganville Park". Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Corriganville Park". LAMountains.com. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Rocky Peak Park". LAMountains.com. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

Schneider, Jerry L. Corriganville Movie Ranch Lulu.com, 01/08/2007 ISBN 9781430312246

External links[edit]