Pioneertown was established in 1946 when Dick Curtis shared his dream for a "Living Breathing Movie Set". Shortly after, seventeen investors including Curtis, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, The Sons Of The Pioneers, Russell Hayden, Frank McDonald, Tommy Carr, Terry Frost, and Bud Abbott each invested $500 and incorporated. The company then purchased 32,ooo Acres of land which would soon be known as Pioneertown.
Their goal was simple and unique: to create a place where they could work (and play) with friends, family and co-workers. A functioning 188o's themed town which was easily accessible from both Los Angeles & Palm Springs and would serve as a filming location, vacation destination & permanent residence for people working in the entertainment industry, ranchers and desert lovers alike.
Originally they had planned to call the town "Rogersville" in honor of the Roy Rogers' singing group (and fellow investors) The Sons of The Pioneers. However, a member of the group named Tim Spenser wrote a catchy tune by the name of "Out in Pioneertown" to help promote the endeavor. They recorded the song the following year. It was that catchy tune which gave birth to the name "Pioneertown". Eager to begin construction, they broke first ground on September 1st, 1946. The San Bernardino County Sun ran a full-page ad on March 25th, 1947 which invited people to invest in Pioneertown along with Dale Evans, Roy Rogers & The Sons Of The Pioneers.
The first structures established were fully functional businesses which included White’s Grocery, the Townhouse Motel, the Red Dog Saloon, the Golden Stallion Restaurant, Maggie’s Feed Barn, Nell’s Ice Cream Palace, Pioneertown Likker, the Klip ‘N’ Kurl Beauty Shop, Pioneer Bowl, Trigger Bill’s Shooting Gallery & the Pioneertown Gazette; just to name a few.
Ranch sites with utilities available and road access already established were offered starting as low as $9oo for over an acre of land! Pioneertown became a fully functioning town with an established community and big plans for fast expansion.
Those grand plans to expand were short lived however, as Dick Curtis stepped down from President in 1948 after the corporation decided to put community production on the back burner and focus strictly on catering to production companies. Immediately, both land sales and productions plummeted. Just when it seemed like the dream was already beginning to fade, a movie producer by the name of Philip N. Krasne who was producing the Cisco Kid series happened to travel through town. He enjoyed the place quite a lot. Well enough, in fact, to sign a 25 year lease which renewed interest & development in Pioneertown.
More than 5o films & serials were filmed in Pioneertown during the 194o's and 195o's. There have been over 2oo productions in town - the total number is unknown as entertainment production records were not as well documented as they are these days. All of the Gene Autry Flying A television productions through the 195o’s were shot here; the Pioneertown Bowling Alley being a favorite filming location of Autry's. Some other local titles were “Cisco Kid”, “The Range Rider”, “Annie Oakley”, “Cody of the Pony Express”, “The Adventures of Judge Roy Bean” and “Buffalo Bill Jr.” As it sits on a movie set; the Pioneertown Post Office is said to be the most photographed PO in the USA!
While Pioneertown thrived; the means to expand further were simply not available. A lack of safe water, something that was unforeseeable at the time of the town's conception, would ultimately condemn all plans for a proposed 4o acre lake, a golf course, an airport and a shopping center. As the golden age of western films came to an end, so too did the abundant production work in town. Over the years businesses have dwindled and thrived, back and forth. But the die-hard community has always remained committed to keeping Pioneertown alive. And while a demand for western filming locations has died down; the town is still a fully functioning production set where movies, independent films, music videos and commercials are filmed every month.
Today, Mane Street in Pioneertown still retains its charm and old west image. Mane Street has been designated by the State Department of Parks & Recreation as Historical Resources. Visitors are welcome to come enjoy the sites any day of the week but weekends are when the town really comes to life.
A number of different retail stores are located on Mane Street, including the General Mercantile/Local Art Studio, a Pottery Shop, Goat Soap Shop and the Custom Leather & Saddle Shop. There are also numerous false fronts in town like the Bank, Bath House, Likker Barn, Jail, the Jack Cass Saloon and the Mining Co. Great for pictures, fun for kids and a great distraction to help you forget about the hustle of the big city. You can even catch a gunfight on Mane Street some Summer weekends.
Camp Sites are available for campers and horses at the Pioneertown Corrals on a first come first serve basis. If sleeping under the stars isn't your style - check out the Pioneertown Motel. No matter if you're coming up for the day or if you plan to stay a while - stop by the local restaurant/bar Pioneertown Palace, or Pappy & Harriet's as the locals call it, for amazing BBQ and some drinks. Come catch a show as local musicians and bands from all around the world come to play at P&H's.
You will find that Pioneertown is a little more than a few city blocks long. Only Horse and Foot Traffic is allowed on Downtown Mane Street, so you will need to park your car at either end and enjoy all the sites on foot. Please respect private property - many of the houses near Mane Street are private residences. Pets are always welcome in town, but there is a strict leash law for all animals. Check the Visitor's Guide for more info on Visiting Pioneertown ;)