Paramount Ranch, the iconic Western-style town nested in the Santa Monica Mountains seen in hundreds of movies and television productions, was mostly razed after the destructive Woolsey Fire tore through the area last week, new photos show.
The 2,700-acre property at 2903 Cornell Road, in an unincorporated area south of Agoura Hills, was first leased by Paramount Pictures in 1927 and was continually used as a backdrop for a range of projects, from classic Hollywood films starring the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper, to more recent hits like “Weeds” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
Most recently, HBO’s sci-fi western series “Westworld” used the ranch’s Western Town to shoot its Main Street scenes. Photos show that set was largely reduced to rubble by the Woolsey Fire, but a church featured in the show’s first season was one of few buildings left standing.
HBO said in a statement, “Paramount Ranch was one of the locations used during seasons one and two of Westworld, in addition to the primary location at Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita. Westworld is not currently in production, and as the area has been evacuated, we do not yet know the extent of the damage to any structures remaining there. Most importantly, our thoughts go out to all those affected by these horrible fires.”
The Western Town was built for TV shows like “The Cisco Kid” in the 1950s, after Paramount sold it, and the property changed hands several times until it was acquired by the park service in 1980.
Outside of the Old West set, the scenic hills masqueraded as distant locales such as China (“The Adventures of Marco Polo,” 1938) and a South Pacific island (1937’s “Ebb Tide”), but “the diverse landscape was the real star of the show,” NPS says on the park’s website.
Along with film production, the location attracted tourists, hikers, campers, horseback rides and cyclists.
The fate of the recreation area that included several miles of scenic trails is unclear; though park officials have confirmed it was badly damaged by the blaze, a full assessment can’t be completed until fire activity subsides.
Several other filming locations nearby have also been destroyed, including the Morrison Ranch House, which was built at the turn of the century home and featured classic films such as “Of Mice and Men” and “The Durango Kid.”
The Woolsey Fire’s destruction also struck the Regan Ranch and Peter Strauss Ranch, where Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson used to perform, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“When Mother Nature wants to win, she always wins,” California State Parks Supt. Tyson Butzke told the newspaper.
The 153-square-mile blaze has so far destroyed as estimated 504 structures and damaged another 96, Cal Fire said Wednesday. At least three lives have also been lost in the fire.