A California wildfire has destroyed the Old West film set used for classic TV shows from the 1950s like “Gunsmoke” to cutting-edge science fiction Westerns like HBO’s current hit “Westworld,” the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said on Twitter.
Western Town at Paramount Ranch, within the recreation area 50 miles west of Los Angeles, fell victim to the Woolsey Fire that has consumed about 70,000 acres.
“We are sorry to share the news that the #WoolseyFire has burned Western Town at #ParamountRanch in Agoura. We do not have any details or photos, but it is our understanding that the structures have burned. This area is an active part of the incident and we cannot access it,” the national recreation area said in the tweet.
In a statement, HBO said Paramount Ranch was a location used in the first two seasons of “Westworld,” along with the primary location at Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita. (HBO and CNN share the same parent company, WarnerMedia.)
” ‘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.”
Other shows that recently used the ranch include “Drunk History,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Mentalist,” “Weeds” and “Quickdraw.”
“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Carnivale” and “Best of the West” used the ranch as a “primary hometown,” according to a listing of shows on the recreation area webpage, while most of the others shot scenes or a few episodes there. “Dr. Quinn” was shot there from 1992 to 1997.
The recreation area’s webpage said Paramount Pictures purchased 2,700 acres of the old Rancho Las Virgenes in 1927 for use as a “movie ranch.”
“For 25 years, a veritable who’s who of Hollywood practiced their craft at Paramount Ranch, including director Cecil B. DeMille and actors Bob Hope, Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert,” the website said.
“The diverse landscape was the real star of the show. It offered filmmakers the freedom to create distant locales such as colonial Massachusetts in ‘The Maid of Salem’ (1937), ancient China in ‘The Adventures of Marco Polo’ (1938), a South Seas island in ‘Ebb Tide’ (1937) and numerous western locations including San Francisco in ‘Wells Fargo’ (1937).”
In 1953, William Hertz bought part of the ranch and built the permanent western town using Paramount’s old prop storage sheds, the website said. Television companies shot parts of “Gunsmoke,” “Bat Masterson,” “Tombstone Territory,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre” there.
An auto raceway operated on the property in the mid-1950s but closed after 18 months when two fatal crashes occurred, the website said.
The park service bought part of the original property in 1980.