Movie History

Movie History in Color Country

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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. Within an hour’s drive of Kanab, you have a diversity of 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 some are in disrepair, others have been rebuilt and are well-maintained. 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. Little Hollywood Step back in time for an “up close and personal” view of movie memorabilia, and better yet – it’s free! Little Hollywood is located in Kanab at 297 West Center Street. On the back lot is a western town comprised of original and maintained sets from the movies Desperate Hours, One Little Indian, and Outlaw Josey Wales. Real sets from the reel west. If you are up for a western show with some grub to go along with it, inside Little Hollywood you will find the Chuckwagon Cookout, with delicious food and great fun! They have microbrews and wine to accompany the meal as well. Check their website for times and availability at 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. The movie set was used to film western movies and TV shows from 1963-1991. 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. Through a cooperative effort between local volunteers and the BLM, the buildings were dismantled and rebuilt on more stable ground above the original location. Unfortunately, vandals later burned the buildings that had required so much cooperative labor. Johnson Canyon Movie Set This large set can be seen by traveling east on Highway 89 ten miles, and then turning north and traveling on Johnson Canyon road for five miles. The set was built for Westward the Women and is not open to the public due to serious disrepair.

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The site of the former Paria Movie Set is still a scenic place to visit, as you can see with the rainbow of colors. Photo by Marlene Barnes .

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