Thursday, May 1, 2014

Photo Essay: Corriganville Movie Ranch, Burned to the Ground

We've lost so many treasures to fire out here in the wild, wild, west. The threat of it feels ever-present in a year like this, when the entire state of California is experiencing a record drought.

Sometimes, wildfires burn everything in sight, and somehow, someone finds a way to rebuild.



Other times, everything is lost forever, leaving only a few traces – building foundations, stone walls, twisted, rusty metal.



Such a place is Corriganville, the once movie ranch-turned-tourist attraction...



...now a public park.



Technically just over the county line into Ventura County, Corriganville is in the same general area as other parks rich with sandstone formations along the Santa Susana Pass...



...like Garden of the GodsStoney Point, and Santa Susana Historic Park.



But Corriganville once had a Main Street, called Silvertown.



And, like the Main Street of Melody Ranch, it, too, burned down.



The famous rock formation served as a backdrop for many scenes shot at Corriganville Movie Ranch...



...owned from 1937-1966 by Ray "Crash" Corrigan, an actor best known for his performances in B western movies.



It was swept by fire in 1970 (when, at the time it was owned by Bob Hope and known as "Hopeville")...



...and everything burned to the ground...



...leaving only a few fake brick walls...



...exposed hardware...



...and concrete slabs...



...and the rest to the imagination.



You can see the stone walls...



...which once held the horse stables...



...though they no longer hold any horses.



There's so little left of Silvertown...



...that you might think there's nothing at all to see in Corriganville...



...but if you walk a little farther...



...out of town and towards the boy scout camp...



...through the Valley Oak trees...



...you reach the "Trail Blazer Cave" (a faked mine entrance used in several movies)...



...and "Canyon Rock" (AKA "Hideout Rock," often used to depict the entrance to the Valley).



Although once an area completely remote, a thriving wildlife corridor...



...construction of the Simi Valley train tunnel in 1904 necessitated using blasting powder to break up large sections of rock in the mountains...



...which was placed into holes drilled into rocks, which can be found scattered around the property.



Mounds of the blasted rock material were relocated from the railroad tunnel site and piled up here.



In the 1980s, the ranch was bisected by the 118 Freeway...



... so tunnels were created to provide safe passage for wildlife from one side of the ranch to the other.



One of the more distinctive features of Corriganville is Robin Hood Lake...



...and the Santa Susana Bridge that crosses it...



...used to depict the watering hole that Jungle Jim would jump into from Stunt Rock.



The Jungle Jim underwater scenes were shot from windows cut out of a "camera house"...



...built and hidden under the bridge.



The lake is empty now...



...welcoming skateboarders and dirtbikers to its concrete bottom.



It's easy to see where the water once ran.



Walking through the old Vendetta Village (the first main set on the ranch)...



...called "Corsican Village" by Ray Corrigan...



...you finally reach Fort Apache, a fort built in 1947 for the film of the same name.



Like many other parts of the ranch, it was used later for several other productions, including The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.



These days, you can find plenty of sunshine, geology, birdlife and botany here – including the original Sherwood Forest from the Robin Hood TV series – but you won't find any film crews or movie stars here anymore.

We're long past the heyday of Westerns anyway.

You have to really look in order to find a cowboy anywhere 'round these parts.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Garden of the Gods
Photo Essay: Melody Ranch Movie Ranch, Closed to the Public (Except this Once)
Photo Essay: Along the Old Stagecoach Pass
Photo Essay: Paramount Ranch & Raceway
The Other Ghosts of Pioneertown