Buckskin Joes

Situated in the majestic Rocky Mountains, minutes from the famous Royal Gorge and near Cañon City, Colorado, Buckskin Joe is an "authentic old west town" (Colorado Fremont/Custer County Film Commission booklet). "After being used so often for western films, Buckskin Joe has earned the title of the 'Motion Picture Capitol of Colorado'. Some of the more than 30 buildings available can be used for interior shots and there is plenty of room for building cover sets. Buckskin Joe has numerous buggies and wagons plus one Concord type stagecoach. Buckskin Joe is ideally located for spectacular shots and backdrops. To the west are the foothills backing up against the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains while to the east are flat semi-arid plains. To the north are flat-topped mountains with higher mountains behind and to the south is the deep colorful Royal Gorge Canyon." (ibid)

The original Buckskin Joe was located about ninety miles northwest of Cañon City. It was started around 1860 by a gentleman named Joseph "Buckskin Joe" Higgenbottom. Built by miners for miners, it remained in existence for about 20 years.

Karol Smith desired to restore Buckskin Joe, but did not find the people he needed to help him in his effort until sometime around 1957. It was at this time that he met Don Tyner and Malcolm F. Brown. Brown was an art director at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios at that time and Tyner was the owner of the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway (a miniature railroad). Each was interested in the rebuilding of Buckskin Joe. It was decided the rebirth of the mining city would take place next door to the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway.

Each of the buildings at the restored Buckskin Joe is of log construction, each ranging in age from 50 to 100 years. As each structure was acquired, it was dismantled at its original site, transported to the new site, and reassembled. Each structure was chosen to represent a different type of building, such as a saloon or a jail. The main town site is a long street with another street heading at right angles between the main street and the Royal Gorge Railroad. Buckskin Joe opened in 1958 to the general public.

Buckskin Joe has been used for many commercials, such as the Foster Grant Sunglasses, Marlboro cigarettes, and numerous automobile commercials.

Buckskin Joe is open to the public from late May to October 31. While there, if you are interested in its historical history, purchase the booklet "Buckskin Joe Colorado's Most Unusual Town and Most Interesting Tourist Attraction" by J. Andrew Smith.

To reach Buckskin Joe, travel 8 miles west of Cañon City, Colorado on US 50, then 1 mile south on CR 3A (just follow the signs).

I would like to thank Vicky Casey, Director of Marketing at Buckskin Joe and a member of the Film Commission, for her graciousness in supplying the historical and filming data for Buckskin Joe and for the personal tour she afforded me during the off-season.

UPDATE: The 805 acre attraction was sold in Summer 2010. The buildings have been relocated to the new owner's property and are no longer open to the public. The original site is now vacant.


"Cat Ballou" (20th Century Fox 1965) Directed by: Elliott Silverstein. Cast: Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, Nat "King" Cole, Stubby Kaye, Tom Nardini, John Marley, Reginald Denny, Jay C. Flippen, Arthur Hunnicutt, Bruce Cabot, Burt Mustin, Paul Gilbert.

"Barquero" (United Artists 1970) Directed by: Gordon Douglas. Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Warren Oates, Kerwin Mathews, Mariette Hartley, Marie Gomez, Armando Silvestre, John Davis Chandler, Craig Littler, Ed Bakey, Richard Lapp, Harry Lauter.

"The Cowboys" (Warner Brothers 1972) Directed by: Mark Rydell. Cast: John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern, A. Martinez, Alfred Barker Jr., Nicolas Beauvy, Steve Benedict, Robert Carradine.

"Brother's O'Toole" (United Artists 1973) Directed by: Richard Erdman. Cast: John Austin, Steve Carolson, Pat Carroll, Hans Conreid, Richard Erdman, Allyn Joslyn, Richard Jury, Lee Meriwether, Jesse White, Leon Inge.

"Mr. Majestyk" (United Artists 1973) Directed by: Richard Fleischer. Cast: Charles Bronson, Al Lettieri, Linda Cristal.

"The Duchess and The Dirtwater Fox" (20th Century Fox 1976) Directed by: Melvin Frank. Cast: George Segal, Goldie Hawn, Conrad Janis, Thayer David, Jennifer Lee, Sid Gould, Pat Ast, Dick Farnsworth.

"How the West Was Won" (MGM T.V. 1977) Cast: James Arness, Bruce Boxleitner.

"White Buffalo" (United Artists 1977) Directed by: J. Lee Thompson. Cast: Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Will Sampson, Kim Novak, Clint Walker, Stuart Whitman, Slim Pickens, Cara Williams, John Carradine.

"Comes a Horseman" (Chartoff-Winkler 1978) Directed by: Alan J. Pakula. Cast: James Caan, Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, George Grizzard, Richard Farnsworth, Jim Davis, Mark Harmon.

"True Grit" (ABC TV 1978) Directed by: Richard T. Heffron. Cast: Warren Oates, Lisa Pelikan, Lee Meriwether, Jeff Osterhage, James Stephens, Lee H. Montgomery, Parley Baer.

"The Sacketts" (Warner Bros. T.V. 1979) Directed by: Robert Totten. Cast: Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Ben Johnson, Glenn Ford, Jeff Osterhage, Gilbert Roland, John Vernon, Ruth Roman, Jack Elam, Gene Evans, L. Q. Jones, Paul Koslo, Mercedes McCambridge, Slim Pickens, Pat Buttram, Buck Taylor, Shug Fisher, Don Collier.

"Conagher" (TNT T.V. 1990) Directed by: Reynaldo Villalobos. Cast: Sam Elliott, Katherine Ross, Barry Corbin, Billy Green Bush, Ken Curtis.

"Lightning Jack" (Lightning Ridge Productions 1993) Directed by: Simon Wincer. Cast: Paul Hogan, Beverly D'Angelo, Cuba Gooding Jr.