Saloon, bank, bath house and livery stables on Mane Street, Pioneertown, CA
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Pioneertown, California, is an unincorporated community in the Morongo Basin region of southern California's Inland Empire Metropolitan Area, on Pioneertown Road at Route 62 in the town of Yucca Valley. The winding, 4-mile (6.4 km) drive northwest to Pioneertown has been designated a California Scenic Drive.
The town started as a live-in Old West motion-picture set, built in the 1940s. The set was designed to provide a place for the actors to live while using their homes in the movie. 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. Its construction was credited to A. E. Thompson in 1947 and Rogers himself rolled out the first ball in 1949. School-age children were hired as pinsetters until the installation of automatic pinsetting equipment in the 1950s. According to the Morongo Basin Historical Society, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.
On July 11, 2006, parts of Pioneertown was burned in the Sawtooth Complex fire, which also burned into Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley. Firefighters managed to save the historic movie-set buildings, but much of the surrounding desert habitat was damaged. Among the buildings saved was Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a longtime local club and landmark built within one of the original sets, which counts among its regular patrons notable musicians, including Eric Burdon and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.
"Strolling down Mane Street is a bizarre experience. An abandoned bowling alley stands opposite a reconstructed jail, bathhouse and bank. Carts of “dynamite” sit like props in the dusty street, presumably from the weekly Old West re-enactments. Unsettlingly realistic dummies slouch in rocking chairs on porches, and fake crows are tied to rails and posts. We pass a grave with a wooden sign proclaiming “Welcome.” It is hard to tell what is real and what has been purposefully set up to unnerve.On the day we visited, the four-block town was empty aside from locals selling handcrafted saddles and feathered dreamcatchers, and a couple of tourists who seemed as confused by the place as we were. The houses on Mane Street look more like live-in works of art than homes; some residents had installed a display of broken chinaware, 50s-era toys and colored glass in the front yard."
- Rafton, Louise. “Pioneertown”, Westways Magazine, March/April 2005
- http://www.pioneertown.com/f-index.htm Pioneertown official website[dead link]
- "Pioneertown Is Ersatz; Its Compassion Is Real". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- "Hi-Desert Star - Yucca Valley, CA: Sawtooth Complex Fire". Hidesertstar.com. Retrieved 2008-10-14.[dead link]
- Beddows, Amy (April 10, 2012). "Last Stop: Pioneertown, CA". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 2014-10-29.