Friday, June 22, 2007

Corriganville, 1958

Ray "Crash" Corrigan was a "stuntman-gunfighter" and a fairly successful Western star for Republic Pictures back in the 1930's. He even played roles in a home-made gorilla suit! In 1938, he purchased a 1500+ acre parcel of land in Simi Valley for $10,000 (that's less than $7 an acre!). Legend has it that he originally bought the land in the hopes of finding a lost Spanish treasure. No loot was found, but Crash began renting his property to Republic Pictures and other studios, and he made a tidy sum.

Here's a picture of Crash that I nabbed from the internets, just so you could have a look at him!

In addition to the Western town seen here (known as "Silvertown"), there was a lake ("Robin Hood Lake"), an oak forest, a "Corsican Village", mines and caves. Bandit's hideout shacks dotted the many canyons and stagecoach roads. Hundreds of movies and television shows were filmed there, including John Wayne's "Fort Apache", the Lone Ranger, and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

In 1949, Crash decided to open up the ranch on weekends. Thousands of people would come out to see a real operating movie ranch! One of the main attractions was a live-action Western show, complete with noisy gunfights every half hour. There was a rodeo, and you could take a tour of the sets on horseback (with pony rides for toddlers). There were "medicine shows", stunt shows, beauty contests, vetriloquists, and you might even see Bozo the Clown during special appearances. It was quite a place!

In 1955, Corrigan leased the property to Outdoor Amusements, Inc., which was eventually controlled by Jack Wrather (who operated the Disneyland Hotel). Corrigan eventually sued to get the ranch back, and Wrather relinquished the rights to it. After changing hands several times, Bob Hope bought the property in the mid-1960's and it became known as "Hope Town". It was soon closed to the public, although the property remained in Bob Hope's hands until the 1990's. During that time, several fires wiped out most of the movie sets. In 1997, homes were built on a large portion of the land, but there is still a Corriganville Park that is open to the public.

"Crash" Corrigan passed away in 1976 at the age of 73.


mackenzie said...

Woo, that's my hometown :) We still visit Corriganville sometimes to go hiking and have picnics and stuff. The buildings are all gone but the caves are still there, and there are little plaques that tell you where stuff was filmed :D

Major Pepperidge said...

Cool...I lived in Thousand Oaks for many years, and used to hike on what I believe is part of the Corrigan ranch (something called the "Hummingbird Trail").

I think there's still a steakhouse in Thousand Oaks called "Corrigan's"...

Matterhorn1959 said...

Very cool images. I will have to post some of my Corriganville slides and photos.

Merlinsguy said...

I went to Corriganville as a child. I climbed around the hills and recently revisited the "ruins" to find the cliff I stood on where a worried mother from down below told me to "back up."

Anonymous said...

Went there with my cub scout troop once.