Actor Dick Curtis started up the town in 1946 as an 1880s themed live-in Old West living breathing motion-picture set. The town was designed to provide a place for production companies to enjoy while also using their businesses and homes in movies. Hundreds of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid and Edgar Buchanan’s Judge Roy Bean.
Dick Curtis, Roy Rogers and Russell Hayden were some of the original developers and investors, and Gene Autry filmed every episode of his show at the six-lane Pioneer Bowl bowling alley. The Pioneer Bowl’s construction was credited to Tommy 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 was one of the oldest in continuous use in California until they closed their doors for good in 2010 (Wikipedia)
You can walk through the main dusty street. The buildings are not facades but actual homes and shops. We were there on a Sunday morning and guitars were strumming and singers singing at a church service in a barn
Living in this town has its obstacles but also has many advantages like desert scenery, birds, quiet, dark. Sitting on the porch is a major pastime.
In July 2006, parts of Pioneertown were 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 the town’s original and only gas station, which counts among its regular patrons notable musicians, including Eric Burdon and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.
And one of the best parts – you can visit Pappy & Harriets.
Early this year Paul McCartney played there – a well-kept secret until the night of the show.