Dec 12, 07 Old Tucson

Howdy, folks!

Hope all of you midwesterners survived the ice storms with nothing worse than a little inconvenience.

After two days of rain here, we got sunshine today, so we took a two hour drive over to Old Tucson Studios.  The weather was delightful, and the movie sets were so interesting.

It was originally built for the movie Arizona in 1939, and has been added to ever since. It was the setting of a bunch of westerns, both TV and movies.  John Wayne filmed McClintock, Rio Lobo, El Dorado, and Rio Bravo there.  There was a fire that destroyed all the buildings used in the Little House On The Prairie and wiped out the costume storage in 1995.  It was the most extensive movie costume collection in the world, exceeding even the ones in Hollywood.

For more about the studio, check out

Pictures of our adventure are at the usual place.  If you are an old movie buff, you may see some familiar sites. 

There are several actors in old west costume walking around the town.  One of them, dressed as a sheriff, gave us a short walking tour of the studio.  He told us which movies were made where.  We saw the balcony Maureen O’Hara fell off of in McClintock, and where the Three Amigos was shot, as well as where the Duke walked.  (Holy ground according to Richard.)  The studio has been the setting of several recent westerns as well as the old classics.

We saw a live gunfight and medicine show; and a video about John Wayne’s work on the set.  Many of the buildings are actually several sets, depending on which side you look at.  One of them is a church, bath house, and a couple of other things I forget on the outside; and inside it is a cafe where we had lunch.  The Sheriff’s office in Rio Bravo is at the other end of the building that housed the gunsmith’s shop in the movie; now it is a gift shop inside.  Our guide pointed out one building that was used as several sets in one movie just by changing the name on the front of the building.

In one area they had adobe bricks drying.  The bricks are made by schoolkids who come out on field trips.  The studio has an educational program and they teach the kids how to mix the straw, sand and mud.  When the bricks are dried, the kids put them on a wall that isn’t part of any of the sets.  (The adobe bricks used in the set buildings are ordered from a brick company.)

I couldn’t resist the gold panning station. Unfortunately, all I found was Fool’s Gold.

All in all, we had a very enjoyable day.

mj & Richard