Sunday, February 19, 2023

Pioneertown, California

We decided that in spite of the chilly weather this February day, we would drive up to Pioneertown to see the sights that we’d not seen for several years and enjoy a lunch, as well. 

To find Pioneertown, we leave Yucca Valley and drive 6.4 km (4 miles) up a winding road surrounded by very unique rock formations.  The uphill road has been designated a California Scenic Drive in 2020 and takes you to an elevation of 1239 metres (4065 ft) to reach Pioneertown.

Pioneertown was built in 1946 to mimic the western towns of the 1880 period and be a location for movies and television shows to be made.  There were several hundred movies and television shows made there.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were involved during the development here and I understand the name ‘Pioneertown’ was named for the Sons of the Pioneers, a band which Roy Rogers (then known as Leonard Slye) formed in 1934.  He was their lead singer 1934 -1937.  The Sons of the Pioneers continue to perform as the longest surviving country music vocal groups and ‘Dusty’ Rogers, Roy and Dale’s son, was also singing with this group until recently.

Gene Autry filmed his weekly television show at this location for 5 years, using these same buildings.  The history I speak of here is definitely better known by us senior folks, but interesting enough to share.  The Cisco Kid and Judge Roy Bean, also more familiar to the seniors were filmed here.

It isn’t hard to imagine those old shows when we wandered down Mane Street and looked in the shops.  There are several businesses open that have goods for sale.  The museum shows posters of old plus several very old and dusty pieces that share some of the history. Plus there are museum items scattered around the street.  

The National Register of Historic Places recognized Pioneertown’s Mane Street in 2020.  I don’t think there are too many places that can claim that but I wasn’t able to confirm it.  I am inclined to think the spelling of Mane was horse talk, though.  They were the acceptable form of transportation here, as the sign implies.  The other sign is a song that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang, ‘Happy Trails to You’.

The total area of Pioneertown is populated by over 400 people so although the ‘downtown core’ is a tourist destination, there are several residents in the area.  There is also the Pioneertown Motel (not this photo) to book a room if you wish to spend some time there. Click here for info.

The Post Office is for the incorporated area and although it looks fitting for the time, I believe it would be a newer building than most of the others.  It often gets photographed which has possibly made it the most photographed Post Office in the U.S.A.

We were able to enjoy a lunch at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace (no photo) which was originally built as a cantina for over 50 movies and television shows that it had been used for.  It has changed hands several times over the years but has retained the same name it was given in 1982 when purchased by Pappy & Harriet.

If you are in the area, it is definitely worth a visit.  Winter days can be chilly, luckily there was no snow for our visit, but it was darn windy and cold so check the weather before you go and dress accordingly. 


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