Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Melody Ranch Fire Devastation
Placerita Canyon

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August 29, 1962 — Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon, as seen the day after wildfire claimed most of the Western movie town that had been erected in 1936 at 24715 Oakcreek Ave.

Original UPI wirephoto; 7x9-inch glossy copy print, as distributed, of image and cutline. This copy date-stamped on back: 9-10-1962, NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Assn., which was related to Scripps).

Cutline reads:

NCP092909—8/29/62—LOS ANGELES: A view down the main street of the movie set at Gene Autry's Melody Ranch made 8/29 shows only desolation and fire damage. In the foreground are what is left of buildings used on TV series "Wyatt Erp" [sic] and "Gunsmoke," all leveled by a brush fire. In the background is a Mission building that completely escaped damage as the fire hopped over it.      UPI TELEPHOTO

The first blaze broke out just after noon in Hasley Canyon, north of Castaic Junction. The second broke out an hour later near the Circle J Ranch between Newhall and Saugus. High winds whipped the flames into the most intense inferno anyone had ever seen.

When the smoke cleared three days later, 17,200 acres had been scorched and 15 structures and numerous out-buildings were lost. No one was killed, but the Western street at Melody Ranch was gone.

"I had always planned to erect a Western museum there," Autry remembered in 1995, "but priceless Indian relics and a collection of rare guns, including a set used by Billy the Kid, went up in smoke. Thank God, the ranch hands and all 14 of our horses were uninjured."

Further Reading:

800 TB Patients Flee Fire; Homes, Autry Ranch Razed (AP 8-29-1962)

My Memories Of Melody Ranch by Gene Autry, 1995

Melody Ranch: Movie Magic in Placerita Canyon

LW2581: 19200 dpi jpeg from original copy print purchased 2014 by Leon Worden.
• 1952-1962 Pre-Fire
• 1962 Fire
• 1962-1990 Post-Fire
• Veluzat Era 1991—


• AP Full Story
• AP Short Story


Melody 8-28-1962


Oil Tank 8-28-1962


SFV (Mult.)


Man Flees 8-28-1962


Melody 8-29-1962


Olive View: Aftermath 1962


Salvaged Buckle


Salvaged Whip


Salvaged Conchos


Salvaged Curb Bit


Salvaged Iron

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