July 10, 2006:
It was all about community and cowboys when Lone Pine and surrounding towns in Inyo County gathered on Friday and Saturday, June 16th and 17th to dedicate the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History.
The event was surrounded by a series of celebrations and fundraisers that culminated in the banquet and concert entitled "A Celebration with Chaparral," held in famous Lone Ranger Canyon. Guests were treated to an elegant sit-down dinner co catered by two restaurants in town, the Merry-Go-Round and Bonanza, which featured a choice of tri-tip with burgundy mushroom sauce, chicken marsala or a vegetarian pasta.
Friday the community of supporters who have worked for more than five years and faced varied obstacles to get the 10,5000 square foot museum built and filled with exhibits, were invited in for a first "sneak peek." The museum is an outgrowth of the Lone Pine Film Festival, which has its 17th annual celebration October 6-8th 2006.
When the doors opened after weeks of intense and frenetic preparation, the crowd saw exhibits, posters, vehicles and artifacts, which told the rich story of filming in and around Lone Pine and Inyo County, California since 1920. The building was made possible by a gift of one million dollars from Mr. and Mrs. Rogers.Jim Rogers also offered his extensive western collection to the museum designers. He has been purchasing additional items over the last several years to inaugurate the museum's collection.
The small desert community, nestled between Mt. Whitney and Death Valley, fundraised an additional $400,000 to buy the land on Highway 395, which will accommodate additional museum construction in the future.
The museum itself has a large lobby, which has the 20th Century Fox stagecoach used in several film features made in the area. The vehicle is fully restored. The lobby walls are lined with huge three sheets and a six sheet for The Hitch-hiker, one of the many non-westerns made in the famous Alabama Hills. The posters introduce the visitor to the diverse films genres that have been filmed in the area. Off one side of the lobby is the brand new Museum Store with western wear and jewelry, movie souvenirs and on the other side down a poster lined hallway is the 85 seat Wild West Movie theater which will keep B westerns flickering on a large screen.
The main exhibit area contains two wonderful vintage cars associated with films of the area. There is the Plymouth coupe that Humphrey drove up to Mt. Whitney as Roy "Mad Dog" Earle to meet his destiny on High Sierra. On the other side is the Buick Eight convertible that contained Peggy Stewart over which Gene Autry (doubled by Joe Yrogoyen) jumped Champion in Trail to San Antone. Exhibits nearby focus on the careers of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, the making of Gunga Din, Villains, and nine other western reel heroes all of whom worked in Lone Pine multiple times.
The large science fiction area contains the actually large worm from Tremors, along with miniatures and artifacts from other Lone Pine films including Star Treks 5 and 7, Crossworlds and the cult classic Bamboo Saucer.
A hat display contains headwear from people who worked in Lone Pine such as Barbara Stanwyck, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Hopalong Cassidy, Tex Ritter and many more. The costume wardrobe has the beaded dress given by Ruth Terry and costumes from westerns including Hallelujah Trail. There is also the On Location Wardrobe of Emmy winning designer Joie Hutchinson. The Stuntmen section contains Loren Janes' valise and stunt equipment, and the director's chair, director's script and frames one sheet from William A. Wellman, a gift of the Wellman family.
A Children's Discovery Room rounds out the rooms but many surprises await the visitor for the museum will continue to grow and change.
At the dedication ceremony, Board member Cheryl Rogers Barnett offered the invocation, and Board member Jaque Hickman and Executive Director Chris Langley spoke of the community's work in coming together with many partners to make the museum a reality.
After the symbolic ribbon was cut, a Lone Pine Home and Garden Tour, another fundraiser for the museum, took place.Fundraising continues for the movie theater with seat sponsorship available for $150 and larger donations are welcome. The museum is also interested in obtaining artifacts and memorabilia of the stars and movies that worked in the area to preserve them and use them to tell the unique story of filming done in the area. Nearly 400 feature films have shot in the area and 100 television show episodes. Countless commercials have also used the area and filming continues today.
For additional information on becoming part of this on-going project call 760-876-9909 or go on-line to the websites:lonepinefilmfestival.org and lonepinefilmhistorymuseum.org. You too can become part of the community of fans and western enthusiasts supporting the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History