JOHNSON CANYON MOVIE SET


The Johnson Canyon Movie Sets are located outside of Kanab, Utah. You travel 10 miles easterly of Kanab on Highway 89 until you reach Johnson Canyon. You then turn left (north) and travel about 5 miles. The location is next to the roadway on the right and the movie sets are visible from the roadway.

At the time that I visited the location, Max Bertola had recently purchased the property and was in the process of restoring the site, giving tours, and promoting continued filmmaking on the property. Unfortunately, he is advertising the site as the home of Dodge City in the "Gunsmoke" television series, which, of course, it was not. Dodge City in the television show "Gunsmoke" was orignally the old Placerita Ranch/Monogram Ranch/Melody Ranch in Newhall, California. It then moved to the Republic Studios lot, usually in one of their soundstages. Old Tucson was used, I believe, for the reunion television movies. Max Bertola not only states that the Johnson Canyon Movie Set was the Dodge City of television fame, but he shows you the "Long Branch" Saloon, the stairs leading up to the Doctor's office, and the barn/stables building. Unfortunately, the doctor's office, if I remember correctly, was across the street from the saloon. Max's doctor's office is next door to the saloon. The t.v. show's doctor's office stairs was on the left side of the building while Max's is on the right side of the building. NOTE: Even though Max is incorrect in the Gunsmoke/Dodge City use of his ranch, he has done extensive research on the history of the site and freely gives that information to the general public, not only in his tours, but in the magazine he publishes ("Max Bertola's Southern Utah") and on the Internet. Since that time, the family of the original owners has taken back possession of the property. The ranch is currently owned by Trevor and Jennifer Stewart.

Although some of the sets and falsefronts have been removed (the site had not been used for about 20 years and the sets were not kept up), many of the original buildings still stand (see accompanying photos), some usuable at the time I visited, and others in the process of being restored structually for safety sake. The site is basically a one-street town running north/south. The falsefronts at the north end of town have been removed. Of the buildings that remain, the back of them are dressed to appear to be different buildings, and can appear to be another town, if needed. There are a couple of authentic early Mormon era pioneer buildings standing on the property. All of the sets that remain are complete shells and can be used for interior filming (when restoration is completed).


The area has been used on television for "How the West Was Won", "Death Valley Days", "Have Gun, Will Travel", "Wagon Train", "Gunsmoke", "Call of the West" and others.


In the over ten years since I visited this site, nothing has been done to protect the buildings from the elements. It is believed that a heavy snowstorm will crush the buildings.

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY:

"Dude Ranger" (Fox 1934) Directed by: Edward F. Cline. Cast: George O'Brien, Irene Hervey, LeRoy Mason, Henry Hall, Syd Saylor.

"Ramona" (20th Century-Fox 1936) Directed by: Henry King. Cast: Loretta Young, Don Ameche, Kent Taylor, Pauline Frederick, Jane Darwell, Katherine DeMille, Victor Kilian, John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish.

"Buffalo Bill" (20th Century-Fox, 1944) Directed by: William A. Wellman. Cast: Joel McCrea, Maureen O'Hara, Linda Darnell, Thomas Mitchell, Edgar Buchanan, Anthony Quinn, Moroni Olsen.

"Westward the Women" (MGM 1952) Directed by: William A. Wellman. Cast: Robert Taylor, Denise Darcel, Hope Emerson, John McIntire, julie Bishop, Lenore Lonergan.

"The Pony Express" (Paramount 1953) Directed by: Jerry Hopper. Cast: Charlton Heston, Rhonda Fleming, Jan Sterling, Forrest Tucker, Michael Moore, Porter Hall, Richard Shannon, Henry Brandon, Stuart Randall, Lewis Martin.

"Ghost Town" (United Artists 1955) Directed by: Allen H. Miner. Cast: Kent Taylor, John Smith, Marian Carr, John Doucette, William Phillips, Serena Sande.

"Copper Sky" (20th Century Fox 1957) Directed by: Charles Marquis Warren. Cast: Jeff Morrow, Coleen Gray, Strother Martin, Paul Brinegar, John Pickard, Patrick O'Moore, Jack Lomas.

"War Drums" (United Artists 1957) Directed by: Reginald Le Borg. Cast: Lex Barker, Joan Taylor, Ben Johnson, Larry Chance, Richard H. Cutting, James Parnell, John Colicos.

"Mackenna's Gold" (Columbia 1969) Directed by: J. Lee Thompson. Cast: Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas, Camilla Sparv, Keenan Wynn, Julie Newmar, Ted Cassidy, Lee J. Cobb, Raymond Massey, Burgess Meredith, Edward G. Robinson, Eli Wallach, Eduardo Ciannelli.