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Paramount Ranch After the Woolsey Fire

Fire Damage at Paramount Ranch

Unless noted these photos were taken at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California on January 23, 2019 when my wife, Julie, and I went hiking there and saw the Woolsey Fire destruction in person for the first time.

View from parking toward Western Town after Woolsey Fire. At Paramount Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains
Looking across Medea Creek from the parking lot toward what was once the Western Town.  Before the fire you could just barely see the Town through all the trees.

Paramount Ranch burns to Ground

On November 8, 2018 the Woolsey Fire started south of the town of Simi Valley, California and burned west to the ocean at Malibu.  On the way it burned through one of my favorite places to explore and hike, the Paramount Ranch and it's "Western Town" film set. 

Facilities:  After being initially closed following the fire, Paramount Ranch Movie Set is now back open.  Admission and parking are free.  Restrooms with flush toilets are open at the park, they are located in a group of trees on the far side of the parking lot from the Western Town.  Look for the flag pole with the USA flag on it next to the restrooms.  Water is available at the restrooms.  Horseback tours are available, see Malibu Riders.  No other facilities were open at the time of our visit.  For updates check the Paramount Movie Ranch Website.   Paramount Ranch is owned by the federal government and run by the National Park Service as part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  It is located at 2903 Cornell Rd., Agoura Hills, California, north of Los Angeles. (Note our visit was during the government shut-down, however there are limited services here even with everything open.  There are lots of services nearby in Agoura Hills.)

Bridge over Medea Creek at Western Town Paramount Ranch
Looking toward the bridge over Medea Creek and the Western Town site.

Historic photo of Medea Creek from 2006
Medea creek pre-fire.  The creek flows between the parking lot and the Western Town.

Medea Creek at Western Town Paramount Ranch after burning in Woolsey Fire.
Medea creek now, with the thick undergrowth burned away.  Some green grass and weeds are already growing up.

Church from HBO's Westworld series.  Western Town Paramount Ranch
The church built for the Westworld HBO series.  It was built on the site of a previous church that was used to film the Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman TV show.  I believe the "Dr Quinn" church burned down many years ago. I remember it was still there on my first visit.

Historic photo of Western Town Paramount Ranch in 2006.
Some of the old pre-fire Western Town building fronts.  The town had 3 streets laid out in the shape of an H when viewed from above.  I believe I took these photos in  in 2006.  The appearance of the Western Town changed each time I visited as it was constantly rebuilt and redecorated to create the desired appearance for whatever project they happened to be filming.  At the time of this visit it was decorated to look like a small abandoned town in the 1970's rather than a classic wild-west town.

Close up of remains of burned buildings at Western Town Paramount Ranch.
The same area today.  Not a lot that didn't burn.  Most of the buildings were wood or wood frame.  The  barn/stable building was a wood pole barn with corrugated sheet metal exteriors.  For the most part they were real buildings, not just false fronts.  But they were not fancy and did not appear particularly well-built.  A few had finished rooms inside, others were just large open frame rooms used for storage.  Just the minimum needed to give the illusion of a town for the camera.

Photo from 2006 of Paramount Ranch Western Town movie set.
Julie sitting on a walkway in the old Western Town, I believe around 2006.  The foliage and props you see were added for a movie they were filming at the time.  Much of that green foliage is just branches or vines clipped from plants someplace else and tied in place with string.  Others are plants in pots.

Another photo of the burned Western Town.
This was once one of the streets of Western Town.  Dr Quinn's medical office was on the far left side when looking at the photo.  While the foundations and a few buildings looked to be adobe, brick, or rock, they were all just veneer over wood and burned.

Photo showing the huge Old Wedding Oak that burned Western Town Paramount Ranch
This is the massive oak tree that has been the site of many weddings, it burned pretty bad.  Hard to say if it will recover, they sometimes do.

Picture of the burned down pole barn at the back of Western Town
All that remains of the barn/stable building.

Historic photo of the train station before the fire.  About 2006.
I took this photo of the train station around 2006, I believe.  The train station had been converted to look like a gas station for a movie they were shooting.  It survived the fire.

Photo of the train station, it did not burn.
Looking down at the former Western Town site from one of the banked turns on the former "Raceway" that winds through the park.  The building in the foreground is the "Train Station".

Another photo of the Western Town Paramount Ranch Train Station.
The Train Station built for the Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman TV show did not burn.  It is the only building left from that era.  None of the pre-70's buildings survived.

Another photo of the Westworld town church.
The church built for the HBO Westworld series was built away from the other buildings in the town and did not burn.

Historic photo of Western Town from top of nearby hill.  2006
Looking down from hilltop at the Western Town in 2006.

Panorama of burned down Western Town at Paramount.
Panorama shot of the Western Town site today.  (Not taken from the same location as the older shot.  The trail to the location of the older photo was too muddy today.)

Blackened burned shrubs branches in contrast with blue sky.
Burned shrub stems against the sky.