Sunday, December 18, 2016

Many Westerns shot at Arizona's Apacheland Movie Ranch

Elvis Chapel
At one time Apacheland Movie Ranch had dreams of becoming the Western movie capital of the world. That dream went up in smoke, though a respectable number of Western movies and TV shows were filmed here in the decades before fire destroyed the movie set.

 Apacheland was started in 1959 on Apache Trail Road, a scenic byway that runs through the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona.

Apacheland suffered a fire in 1969, but the one that pretty much destroyed the movie set happened on Valentine’s Day in 2004.

When the blaze ended, the only buildings left were the chapel, the barn/stable and the gallows. They were moved 10 miles down the road to the Superstition Mountain Museum.

The chapel is known as the Elvis Chapel because it was featured in Charro!, a movie starring Elvis Presley that was made here. Inside, on the altar, you’ll find a life-size statue of Elvis. The chapel is a wedding venue; a docent says many couples choose to be married standing next to Elvis, though he can be moved aside for the ceremony.

Aduie Murphy Barn
The barn is known as the Audie Murphy Barn because of a shootout scene filmed for Arizona Raiders. Inside, you’ll find pictures of actors and actresses who starred in movies and TV shows filmed here. There’s also the buggy that Doc drove in Gunsmoke.

Besides Elvis and Audie Murphy, the list includes Steve McQueen, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Clint Walker, Stella Stevens, Marty Robbins and Ida Lupino.

Stars at  Apacheland
Television productions include Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Gunsnoke, and Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Movies include Blood on the Arrow, Ballad of Cable Hogue, The Hunted and Broken Land.

The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., though it does close on major holidays.

To get there take the Idaho Road exit off Highway 60 at Apache Junction. Stay on this road until you get to Highway 88/Apache Trail Road. The museum is about three miles from the intersection.