If you find yourself driving along Route 62 in California's Yucca Valley, take a brief 4-mile detour to Pioneertown, an unincorporated community in southern California's Inland Empire. The 4-miled drive is officially designated as a California Scenic Drive.
In the 1940s the town was established to serve as a "live-in Old West" movie set. Actors lived on set in the residents' homes. Perhaps the most famous film shot here would be The Cisco Kid. The original investors who developed the town included Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, and Russell Hayden.
A.E. Thompson is credited with constructing the town in 1947.
Gene Autry was also an investor in the town and would frequently shoot his television show at the six-lane Pioneer Bowl bowling alley. The Morongo Basin Historical Society claim that the Pioneer Bowl is one of California's oldest, continuously-used bowling alleys.
Alas, in July of 2006 a fire burned much of Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley (where Pioneertown is located). But, the brave firefighter were able to save much of the historic movie sets.
In 2012, San Diego Reader visited the town:
"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."