Visiting the West in Santa Clarita, California: Cowboy Festivals, Wineries and Museums

Melody Ranch

In 1915 the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif. was part of Monogram Movie Studios and more than 750 "'B" westerns were filmed there. Then, in 1952, the studio was purchased by cowboy movie star Gene Autry and

renamed Melody Ranch. It did, however continue to be a working movie location and such classic films as "High Noon" and television shows like "Gunsmoke" were filmed there. Today the ranch is owned by Renaud and Andre Veluzat and continues to be a viable film location.

It is also home to the Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival held at the end of each March. This is a festival for real live cowboys and their weekend counterparts. Even if you are not a cowboy and just want to visit, you will enjoy the street performers, trail rides, cowboy rope tricks, cowboy singers and lots of food to eat. 

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

Not far from Melody Ranch is the William S. Hart Museum. Hart began his film career in 1914. In the span of 11 years he managed to appear in 60 motion pictures, mostly westerns. Hart was born in New York State in 1864. During his boyhood his father moved the family west.  Young Bill was raised as a pioneer where he met real live Indians, ranchers and, of course, cowboys. Hart turned to stage acting in the early 1900's. In 1914 the fledging film industry came a calling and Hart moved to California becoming famous as Two-Gun Bill.

William S. Hart Ranch

When Hart retired from movies he built his home in Santa Clarita, which today houses the William S. Hart Museum. Hart filled this home with cowboy memorabilia, props from his movies and treasures reflecting his interest in the Wild West. These treasures consisted of Navajo textiles, Indian costumes, a great gun collection and paintings, now all on display inside the museum.

Hart was also friends with other personalities of his day. Will Rogers, Wyatt Earp and Charles M. Russell. All these characters, in fact, visited Mr. Hart at his home in Santa Clarita. A visit today to the William S. Hart Museum brings Hart and this time period back to life.

Agua Dulce Vineyard

A short drive of about 20 miles will also take you to the Agua Dulce Vineyard, which is Los Angeles Counties' only working winery. Agua Dulce offers wine tasting and the vineyard produces a fine well-balanced fruity grape.  The winery produces a fine Chardonnay, Syrah and Sangiovese. Wine maker Jim Yerkes is an up-and-coming winemaker and as the vineyard continues to produce good wine, Agua Dulce's reputation as an alternative to Napa Valley will also grow.


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