Named after a solitary pine tree that once stood at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon, this small California town’s roots stretch back into the Old West — and Hollywood’s Wild West, too.

Back in the mid-1800’s, the town of Lone Pine was founded to supply local miners with provisions. Farmer and ranchers followed soon after, and after that, the Carson Colorado Railroad pulled into town.

Today, the only part of pre-1870 Lone Pine that’s still standing is a portion of an old adobe wall that stands behind the local flower store, “La Florista”. A few miles to the east, you can also wander among the decaying ghost-town ruins of Cerro Gordo, accessible by dirt road off Hwy 136 (to Death Valley).

Even as the days of the Wild West were coming to an end, the Hollywood Western was just beginning. And since the ’20s, Lone Pine’s unique scenery has been the backdrop of more than 250 films. One glance at the Alabama Hills, and you’ll remember a host of immortal movie scenes: The first “Lone Ranger” ambush was filmed here, and it was here that Roy Rogers found Trigger and Tom Mix found Tony.

Lone Pine – Lone Pine Film Festival

To walk on the dirty concrete sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd is one thing. To come out here, and cover the same ground as John Wayne, Hoot Gibson, and Buck Jones — well, that’s another. It’s a lot prettier, and it’s a lot more inspiring. Grab a horse from a local pack outfit, and you’ll feel like the Duke himself.

Lone Pine’s Hollwood connections are still alive and well — mostly because the Lone Pine area remains pristine and unspoiled. Come and visit, and you’ll recognize the backdrop to Mel Gibson’s “Maverick” and Alec Baldwin’s “The Shadow”.

And thanks to the stunningly successful Lone Pine Film Festival — which has drawn such distinguished guests of honor as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Tim Holt — this town’s matinee-Western roots are reason to celebrate, year after year.

Curious about what movies were made in Lone Pine? Here’s a very comprehensive list!

Lone Pine is also the town nearest the National Historic Site of Manzanar. During World War II, tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were forcefully deported to various relocation camps throughout the nation. The bleak skeletal remains of Manzanar are a reminder of a shameful chapter in our nation’s history.

The History of the Hills
The Alabama Hills got their current name in 1864, when some Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine decided that the Confederate cruiser “The Alabama” (which had destroyed or captured 60 Union ships in 2 years) ought to be celebrated — so they named their mining claims after her. The name stuck, and eventually referred to the whole area.

Interestingly enough, as these Southern miners were digging (and naming things) around Lone Pine, a group of Union sympathizers settled themselves 15 miles north, near Independence. When the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsage, the folks in Independence gleefully named their mining claims “Kearsage”, along with a local mountan peak, pass, and an entire town as well!

For a while, the Alabama Hills were incorrectly touted as “the earth’s oldest hills.” We now know the Alabamas to be pretty young, like the Sierra— just a few million years old. Although they’re identical in composition to the Sierra, the Alabamas’ strange appearance comes from a different weathering process.

The high and low temperatures of the Sierra, and the freezing, expanding, and thawing of rain and snowmelt created the “chiseled” splintering of their granite. But down in the relatively moist and soil-covered region of the Alabamas, this process did not occur. Instead, the soil gradually eroded away, exposing the oddly-shaped piles of boulders that stand here today. The weird, mottled coloring of the rocks is the result of the iron in the rocks oxidizing over millions of years.

My Lone Pine - Welcome