BACK AT THE RANCH; WESTERN MOVIES TOLD THE TALE OF A REGION'S CHANGING LANDSCAPE.
Byline: David Greenberg The creator of this article, or someone who has substantially contributed to it, may have a conflict of interest regarding its subject matter.
It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia's content policies, particularly neutral point of view. Staff Writer
In the years between the end of World War II End of World War II can refer to:
Hollywood set up shop, using the area's rolling hills Rolling hills are like a mountain chain, only a "hill chain" of hills that roll on and on continually. You will often find them in between plains and mountains, near major rivers, or randomly anywhere. The only places without rolling hills are deserts and flood plains. and wide open valleys as a backdrop in an endless run of westerns, from Clint Eastwood's ``Rawhide'' to Barbara Stanwyck's ``Big Valley.'' Corriganville, a working movie ranch A movie ranch is a ranch that is at least partially dedicated to being used as a site for the production of motion pictures.
Movie ranches first came into use in southern California in the 1920s when westerns had become increasingly popular. , opened its gates to visitors as landscapes across the Conejo Valley The Conejo Valley is a region spanning both Southeastern Ventura County and Northwest Los Angeles County in Southern California, United States. It was discovered in 1542 by Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and eventually became part of the Rancho El Conejo land grant by appeared on the big screen.
``It was a fantastic site for filmmaking,'' said Ed Lawrence, a local historian and photographer in Thousand Oaks Thousand Oaks, residential city (1990 pop. 104,352), Ventura co., S Calif., in a farm area; inc. 1964. Avocados, citrus, vegetables, strawberries, and nursery products are grown. . ``No (development) went on out here. So the area looked the same as it did hundreds of years ago.''
The movie-making heyday sandwiched two eras, from the 1940s when Simi Valley Simi Valley (sē`mē, sĭm`ē), city (1990 pop. 100,217), Ventura co., SW Calif. in an oil, fruit, and farm region; laid out 1887, inc. 1969. residents took up arms to ward off enemy invasion to end of the 1950s when the Ventura Freeway The Ventura Freeway is a freeway in southern California running from Ventura to Pasadena. It is the principal east-west route through Ventura County and in the southern San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County. would replace a two-lane highway and migration from the neighboring San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. would begin to change the landscape.
During the war years, local farms thrived on feeding American forces overseas, while Simi Valley residents manned homemade watchtowers, in fear of Japanese warplanes making a mainland attack.
``People were so fearful after Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor, land-locked harbor, on the southern coast of Oahu island, Hawaii, W of Honolulu; one of the largest and best natural harbors in the E Pacific Ocean. In the vicinity are many U.S. military installations, including the chief U.S. ,'' said Patricia Havens, Simi Valley's city historian and director at the Strathearn Historic Park and Museum. ``People as young as 11 or 12 and World War I veterans signed on for a shift. They all took turns, round the clock, for at least two or three years.''
Most young men left high school in the serene community of slightly more than 2,000 residents to join the service. In one Simi Valley Historical Society and Museum photograph, just three male students are pictured in the June 1945 graduating class at Simi Valley Union High School.
Among those who stayed behind, some three dozen joined the war effort at home by forming the Simi Valley Militia. Made up of preteens and World War I vets ineligible for the draft, militia members were issued uniforms by the state but carried their own weapons. They manned homemade 15-foot-high watchtowers on Cochran Street near the Santa Susana Santa Susana can refer to several places:
A minor shelling attack by a Japanese submarine of a beachfront beach·front
A strip of land facing or running along a beach.
Situated along or having direct access to a beach: beachfront hotels; beachfront property.
Noun 1. area north of Santa Barbara Santa Barbara (săn'tə bär`brə, –bərə), city (1990 pop. 85,571), seat of Santa Barbara co., S Calif., on the Pacific Ocean; inc. 1850. in February 1942 heightened fears, even though the incident turned out to be the only assault on the mainland, according to ``Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time,'' published by the Simi Valley Historical Society and Museum.
``They wanted to form this state guard on the home front in case something happened - if Japan just kept coming,'' Havens said.
While Simi Valley was known as the home of Corriganville, which drew thousands of visitors to the movie-making ranch, Thousand Oaks was known as a community for farming and filming throughout the 1940s and 1950s.
The list of movies and television shows filmed there offers an endless library of classics, including several ``Tarzan'' flicks, as well as television series such as ``Rawhide'' and Ward Bond's ``Wagon Train.''
Much of the filming took place on the 12,000-acre Albertson Ranch, which would later be transformed into Westlake Village.
Fred Albertson, a Los Angeles car dealer, bought the ranch from newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the early 1940s.
Albertson strived to maintain its pristine condition - even though as many as five film crews utilized the land at a given time, according to Lawrence.
Legend has it that Albertson once kicked a production company off site after one employee cut a large branch off a tree.
``He wanted to keep it beautiful,'' Lawrence said. ``He wouldn't allow billboards or anything on it. And (Hollywood) did a tremendous amount of work in the east end of town.
But suburban development was on the horizon for an area whose cities were on their way to incorporating and farmlands were to be replaced with homes and businesses.
To accommodate those looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. a rural setting with an industry base, the Janss Corp. in Thousand Oaks began developing its 10,000 acres in the late 1950s.
It marked the major start of a housing boom that would send the population skyrocketing - from 2,028 residents by 1950 to 9,446 by 1960, and more than 100,000 today.
``Developing the area really went into full swing around 1958,'' said Brad Bauer, in charge of special collections at Thousand Oaks' Grant R. Brimhall Library The Grant R. Brimhall Library serves as the main Thousand Oaks Library building. It is controlled by the Thousand Oaks Library System, which also controls the Newbury Park Branch Library. The Grant R. Brimhall Building is located on Janss Rd. near State Route 23. . ``They wanted an area where residents could both live and work. They didn't want it to be merely a bedroom community.''
What is now the Ventura Freeway was a two-lane road at Thousand Oaks Boulevard during the 1940s. The state relocated it to its present site in 1950-52, and it became a divided road with two lanes in each direction.
``That was one of the main routes going from Los Angeles to San Francisco,'' Lawrence said. ``It was a time for highways to start changing because traffic was getting heavy all over.''
Simi Valley experienced a similar transformation in the late 1950s, as groundwater dried up - state water wasn't imported until the 1960s - and farmers were forced to sell off their land.
``It was too tempting to sell to developers,'' said Havens. ``We were just bringing in people faster than you could (develop) a tract. We were building schools three per year to keep up with the demand.''
Before 1950, Simi Valley's population remained under 3,000 but by 1960 it more than doubled to 8,110.
By the time the next decade was to roll by, both communities would become incorporated cities.
``There was massive growth in bedroom communities,'' said James Purtee, deputy director of Simi Valley's Economic Development Department. ``That's really what spurred on the incorporation of the city - to have local control over growth issues.''
Photo: Crash Corrigan, riding his horse Flash, waves his hat at Corriganville in the early 1950s.
Courtesy of Bill Appleton