- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
A fake town founded by Western movie stars is now becoming a hip desert community.
This isn’t an abandoned ghost town; far from it. The population’s average age is around 30, and in the past year a restaurant, a recording studio, and a vintage store opened up in airstream trailers and the old slatted buildings. Paul McCartney recently played a set at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace saloon.
As a New York Times piece described it, “Pioneertown wants to be the new Old West.” But it wasn’t ever the real Old West to begin with. Pioneertown was built as a set for Westerns in the 1940s, but was also designed to accommodate actors during filming.
The saloons, trading posts, and other frontier storefronts were used as backdrops in a number of early Western serials from The Cisco Kid to Judge Roy Bean. Given the swift and prolific production schedules of the televised adventures the set was soon expanded to accommodate real residences where the actors could live while their very houses made up the sets. The construction of the town was even funded and overseen by such Western greats as Roy Rodgers and Russell Hayden, and a bowling alley was even built where Gene Autry would often film his show.