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Pioneertown, California facts for kids

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Pioneertown, California
Saloon, bank, bath house and livery stables on Mane Street, Pioneertown, CA
Saloon, bank, bath house and livery stables on Mane Street, Pioneertown, CA
Pioneertown, California is located in California
Pioneertown, California
Pioneertown, California
Location in California
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
 • Total 420
Time zone UTC−08:00 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−07:00 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
Area codes 442/760
FIPS code 06-57358
GNIS feature ID 247574

Pioneertown, California, is an unincorporated community of the Morongo Basin region of San Bernardino's High Desert. The historical town was originally incorporated in 1946 and fell into the hands of San Bernardino County in the late 1960s. The winding, 4-mile (6.4 km) drive northwest to Pioneertown from Yucca Valley has been designated a California Scenic Drive and the area is now surrounded by privately and federally protected lands.


The town started as a live-in Old West motion-picture set, built in the 1940s. The set was designed to provide a place for the actors to live while using their homes in the movie. A number of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid and Edgar Buchanan's Judge Roy Bean.

Pioneertown bowl sign
Pioneer Bowl

Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, and Russell Hayden were among the original developers and investors, and Gene Autry frequently taped his show at the six-lane Pioneer Bowl bowling alley. Its construction was credited to Arent E. Thompson in 1947 and Rogers himself rolled out the first ball in 1949. School-age children were hired as pinsetters until the installation of automatic pinsetting equipment in the 1950s. According to the Morongo Basin Historical Society, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.

21st century

As of 2006, Pioneertown had a population of 350.

On July 11, 2006, parts of Pioneertown were burned in the Sawtooth Complex fire, which also burned into Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley. Firefighters managed to save the historic movie-set buildings, but much of the surrounding desert habitat was damaged. Among the buildings saved was Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a longtime local club and landmark built within one of the original sets, which counts among its regular patrons notable musicians, including Eric Burdon and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.On Oct.13, 2016, Sir Paul McCartney made a unexpected but spectacular appearance for a 100 minute concert and 22 songs for 300 guests only.

In 2012 a visit to Pioneertown by the San Diego Reader was called a "bizarre experience":

"Strolling down Mane Street is a bizarre experience. An abandoned bowling alley stands opposite a reconstructed jail, bathhouse and bank. Carts of “dynamite” sit like props in the dusty street, presumably from the weekly Old West re-enactments. Unsettlingly realistic dummies slouch in rocking chairs on porches, and fake crows are tied to rails and posts. We pass a grave with a wooden sign proclaiming “Welcome.” It is hard to tell what is real and what has been purposefully set up to unnerve.On the day we visited, the four-block town was empty aside from locals selling handcrafted saddles and feathered dreamcatchers, and a couple of tourists who seemed as confused by the place as we were. The houses on Mane Street look more like live-in works of art than homes; some residents had installed a display of broken chinaware, 50s-era toys and colored glass in the front yard."


  • Rafton, Louise. “Pioneertown”, Westways Magazine, March/April 2005

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