Linger on Kane County's Movie History
By Dixie Brunner
You may experience ‘déjà vu’ when touring southern Utah. While this may be your first trip, you’ve probably already visited via TV or the silver screen! Movie making was a large part of this area’s history and economy from the 1930s-1990s, when over 300 movies and TV shows were filmed here.
The 2012 Disney movie, John Carter, was filmed here. About 275 Utahns worked on the film, many of whom were Kane County residents. Early this year, an independent film featuring Nicholas Cage was filmed in Kanab, and will premiere later this year. (For great reading concerning Utah and Kane County’s rich filmmaking history, check out the book, ‘When Hollywood Came to Town’ by film historian James D’Arc.) Within an hour’s drive of Kanab, you have diverse landscape – from sand dunes – to western landscape – to high country forests – to an enormous body of water. The most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see is right here in southern Utah!
To sate visiting movie buffs, you might consider a tour of the old movie sets dotting the area. While most are in disrepair, others have been rebuilt and are well-maintained.
Little Hollywood Museum Step back in time for an “up close and personal” free view of movie memorabilia! Little Hollywood Museum is located in Kanab at 297 West Center.
On the back lot are memorabilia displayed from original sets from Desperate Hours, One Little Indian, and Outlaw Josey Wales – real sets from the reel west! Check their website for times and availability at www.littlehollywoodmuseum.org.
Parry Lodge Parry Lodge was a movie-making hotspot for years. The hotel was the place where scores of famous movie actors and producers stayed while filming in Kanab. The rooms are named after some of the famous folks who slept there.
Guests today can stay in the “Ronald Reagan” or “James Arness” rooms. A mini museum of signed autographs and photos can be viewed in the lobby and dining room of Parry Lodge.
There was even a movie shot at Parry Lodge, The Girl in the Black Stockings.
Kanab Canyon Movie Set Located about five miles north of Kanab near Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the Canyon was the location for a number of movies including The Lone Ranger, Westward the Women and The Apple Dumpling Gang.
Not far past the Best Friends turnoff is a barn from One Little Indian. While few significant film-making sights remain, one can almost imagine the wagons rolling down the hill in Women, or the Lone Ranger’s horse Silver rearing on the red sandstone plateau.
Paria Movie Set This set was nestled at the bottom of a towering, multi-colored sandstone canyon, in what locals refer to as ‘the Paria.’ The site of the former Paria Movie Set can be accessed by taking Highway 89 east of Kanab for 35 miles, and turning north into a dirt parking lot with a stone monument to the Pareah Townsite. As a location, it was used for several episodes of Gunsmoke and Sergeants Three. Those willing to take the bumpy trip will be rewarded with interpretive displays and remarkable canyon views.
While the movie set withstood the test of gunfights and saloon brawls, it couldn’t withstand the ravages of nature. Flooding left a 20 foot gully running through the middle of the three-building town. The buildings were taken down, moved to higher ground, but burned to the ground by arsonists the next year.