Silent Locations: The Lone Pine Film History Museum

I took a little road trip over the weekend along Highway 395. If you have ever seen any westerns, you will be familiar with the Lone Pine/Mount Whitney location. It was the setting of many a cowboy movie and television show, not to mention doubling as the North-West Frontier/Afghanistan in films like Gunga Din and Iron Man.

All in all, over 600 movies have been shot in the area. High Sierra, Tremors, Gladiator… and, of course, films starring Tom Mix, Buck Jones and others. (My beloved William S. Hart preferred shooting in Inceville, Victorville, etc.)

Naturally, I had to stop at the Lone Pine Film History Museum. It’s easy to find; right off the highway.

Admission is a suggested donation of $5 USD per person and there is a gift shop. There are no age restrictions but I would recommend keeping small children in sight as many of the displays are fragile. If you want to plan a visit, check out the museum’s website.

Of particular interest to silent film fans:

Tom Mix’s Britches

Keystone Cop Uniform (-ish)

Okay, not strictly Keystone but Arbuckle WAS part of that brigade. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Greed

And a whole room for silent films! Obviously, this pleased me greatly.

There are also displays dedicated to singing cowboys, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and western stuntmen. Yes, I did pose with the William Boyd cutout. In general, the museum is an excellent balance of films new and old, famous and obscure.

This is the harness you wear if you need to be dragged off or behind a horse.

I know everyone gets excited about Los Angeles and its environs but if you want maximum California movie location bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong following the 395 from Hesperia to the state line and then proceeding to Carson City/Virginia City or Lake Tahoe. You’ll be driving across countryside used by just about every movie or TV cowboy from William S. Hart to Clint Eastwood and you won’t have to deal with the L.A. demolition derby. It’s a win-win.

“Do they have a display for XYZ?”

I’ll try to answer any questions as best I can but the museum is pretty stuffed with goodies and I’m sure I didn’t see everything. But look at the poster I spotted in the gift shop:

Cool, huh?

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15 Replies to “Silent Locations: The Lone Pine Film History Museum”

  1. Ah, I think I could spend hours there! I’ve always wanted to visit the Lone Pine area to see the famous landmarks and rocks which can be seen in certain Hoppy movies…but I didn’t know about this awesome looking museum! Looks like there are great silent film treasures as well as talkie memorabilia. Thanks for sharing your experience, Fritzi!

  2. A poster with two of my favorite actors, Bebe Daniels and William Powell! I wan’ it, I wan’ it, I wan’ it!!! (holds breath until face turns blue)

  3. I once visited Lone Pine on my way north to Yosemite. It was 1980, and all I knew of Lone Pine was that it was a location in one of my favorite films, High Sierra. (I don’t believe there was a film museum at the time.) As I left town on the main road heading north, I was flabbergasted by the sight of the mountains ahead — it was the exact same shot from High Sierra as Roy Earle races out of Lone Pine on that two lane road with the cops chasing him to his ultimate doom. It gave me chills just to see that. Aside from High Sierra,I had no idea — until reading your piece — that it had been such a popular location for filming.

    1. I can definitely recommend going again and taking the route from Hesperia (William S. Hart liked to film there) all the way to Mono Lake (High Plains Drifter) and seeing all the movie locations along the way. My father’s family has been vacationing in the area since the 1940s and I always enjoy spotting Lone Pine and its environs in classic films.

      P.S. The film museum has the car from High Sierra on display. Cool, huh?

  4. We are driving to an August wedding in Lake Tahoe and will definitely plan a stop at the Lone Pine Museum. In addition to all the other wonderful exhibits you delineated they’ve got the Plymouth coupe from High Sierra? This vintage car geek simply must check that out!

    1. Congratulations and all the best!

      Yes, they have a nice little High Sierra display with the car at the museum. The whole area is just dripping with movie history & natural wonders. If you have time, I also highly recommend grabbing lunch/snacks at Schat’s Bakery in Bishop, if you are on the way to Tahoe. It’s delicious!

      http://schatsbakery.com/

  5. Thanks for the well wishes- it’s very close friends getting hitched and we’re happily attending. There’s no way I’m ever walking down the aisle again- once was more than enough 😉

    Love Schat’s! Have been there when we went to Bishop for the opening of trout season. Great food and love the ambience!

    1. Well, my reading comprehension needs some serious work. 😉 In any case, congrats on getting your house back to its electrical best.

      Isn’t Schat’s a dream? My father’s family has been going there since the beginning & it’s a ritual for anyone in our orbit to stop there. I will kill for their raisin walnut bread!

  6. Thanks! Brand new wiring throughout the place, very happy to say! A total mess around here for almost a month, but worth it.

    I doubt Schat’s would cough up the recipes for any of their breads, particularly that one, but I’m willing to give it a go!

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