In the hills above Morongo Valley, in the high desert community of Yucca Valley, Ca., lies Pioneertown, a small Old West town with motels, trading posts, bowling alleys, jails, and saloons.
Originally built for filming western movies and TV shows, it was founded in 1946 by a group of Hollywood investors. The idea was to create a movie set but also a place to house actors and film crews during filming.
Among the original developers and investors are the actors Dick Curtis, Russell Hayden, Gene Autry, and several members from one of the United States’ earliest Western singing groups The Sons of the Pioneers.
Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s, more than 50 popular movies and several TV shows were filmed here, including The Cisco Kid, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, 26 Men, Buffalo Bill, Jr., Whirlwind, The Range Rider, and many Gene Autry’s Western TV shows.
What was once a live-in Old West motion picture set to either house or entertain the film crews and actors, today is a living town with a post office, a church, a vintage store, saloons, and a restaurant.
People began moving into the set buildings which look like real works of art. According to Wikipedia, as of 2006, Pioneertown had a population of 350.
One of the most famous places in the town is The Pioneertown Motel (originally called The Townhouse), an 18 room lodge that formerly housed the Hollywood stars and their crews. The motel is still in use today, with individually decorated rooms, such as the John Wayne Room, the Rose Room, and the Antique Room, where travelers can spend the night.
Another popular place on the main street (called Mane Street) is Pappy and Harriets, a saloon-style restaurant, serving food and drinks and hosting music entertainers since 1982.