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View of Museum Facade

February 05, 2005:

Lone Pine will be a hub of activity the first weekend of October when the town's citizens and out-of-town fans open their Film History Museum That event will be followed by the sixteenth film festival celebrating Inyo County's long movie history.


The grand opening of the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History will take place the afternoon of October 6th with various guests, dignitaries and celebrities in attendance. The celebration will continue into the evening with a dinner and then will dovetail into the annual three-day celebration of western heritage, films and fun in a small town. The event has gained worldwide notoriety and has become the premier western film festival. Recently, "western life style" has attained noteworthy popularity in Europe.


Final negotiations and contract signing are now complete with M and L Keith in Victorville to provide the ten thousand five hundred square foot Butler building which will house the film history collection and exhibits, as well as a museum store and movie theatre. Beverly and Jim Rogers of Sunbelt Communications have championed the project from the beginning, supporting the Festival and then the concept of the Museum with enthusiasm and financial sponsorship. Mr., Rogers guaranteed one million dollars if the building was completed by October 1st, an opportunity for the small town that is too good to be passed up.


In a meeting on Wednesday, February 2 in Las Vegas, Mr. Rogers signed off on the plan presented by the Building Committee. Representatives there from Lone Pine were Jaque Hickman, Brian Webb, Chris Langley, Lynne Bunn, Dave Haas, and Acquisitions Director and exhibit designer Bill Hunter. The first check has been cut and sent to M and L Keith to purchase the building components.


Clearly that makes for a very challenging timeline. Present plans call for site preparation in March to be accomplished by Hickman Construction and various local subcontractors. Building elements arrive on site April 1 and the building will be finished by September 1st. That allows for two months of exhibit installation and a "soft" or test opening before the big day. The timeline is based on no significant delays during construction.


"It's a challenge, but our local and non-resident volunteers, fans and enthusiasts are definitely ready. Support has been growing continually for the Museum since we raised over three hundred thousand dollars to purchase the land and create a reserve fund to support initial operating expenses," Chris Langley, Executive Director of the Museum explained. "I guess I like to think of it as an old time barn raising but with all the complications of life our times have placed on us."


The inspiration has always been the diverse and rich film history of Lone Pine and Inyo County. The group of volunteers have worked year round to create the Festival. This year's edition of the Festival will have "Our Cowboy Heroes and Their Horses" as its theme and will feature Tom Mix and his horse Tony on the button. Mix and Tony worked here several times; with the first film starring Tony called simply Just Tony in 1923. Jack Hoxie actually found Scout on a ranch here and Roy Rogers "met" Trigger in Lone Pine.


Petrine Mitchum who will soon publish a book on the subject will be a guest premiering her book at the Festival. Petrine is the daughter of Robert Mitchum who rode Steel here in West of the Pecos. The Festival will have many of its old favorites with new events penciled in as well. The very popular Geology Tour will be expanded and a tour combining science fiction film locations with the birds of Owens Lake will be added and led by local authority Mike Prather.


The Friday night concert will feature recording star Belinda Gail and Curley Musgrave.


Because of the extended combination of the Museum opening and the Festival, many more volunteers will be needed. "Clearly we will need lots of very practical help in the crunch time of September to get the exhibits up and functioning. Construction of the exhibits will begin in May, but you know we will need painters, and crafts people to get everything done. Remember those old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney films? 'My Dad has a barn, let's put on the show!' That's our group. It will be fun and a little crazy getting ready," Langley enthused.


The Museum will have seventy-five hundred feet of exhibition space with exhibits celebrating the heroes, the films, the locations and critical issues concerning the films as cultural artifacts. The museum fa├žade is based on an actual 1930's western movie theatre in Montana. It will have a forty-foot art deco tower, a lobby area and large faux movie posters down both flanks that will advertise exhibits and events inside.


However, the Museum will not just tell a western film history story of bygone days. Exhibits will also include the car from High Sierra, graboid worms from Tremors, and the gate to Paradise from Star Trek 5 The Final Frontier. The Museum and Film Festival Board are planning other events and fundraisers during the year including the annual Concert and Dinner in the Rocks on June 11.


Contact Info

The Museum of Western Film History
701 S. Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545