Big Sky Ranch
Simi Valley, California
Big Sky Ranch was a 10,000-acre ranch located in Simi Valley in Ventura
County, some 40 miles west of Los Angeles. With rolling hills, great
vistas, secluded canyons and undulating valleys, as well as one of the
last great working ranches in the country. Some of the local exteriors
of the ranch were used in "Bonanza" episodes in 1969 and 1970. Segments
of eleven's "Another Windmill to Go", "To Stop a War", "The Lady and the Mark", "Is There
Any Man Here...?", "The Law and Billy Burgess", and twelve's "A Matter
of Faith", "The Wagon", "El Jefe", and "The Luck of Pepper Shannon".
The ranch was leased for filming of local exteriors in "Little House on the Prairie". The 1974 pilot film that sold the series wasn't filmed here. The show's titles and cast credits depicting the family were filmed on the hillside beyond the farm exteriors. The cattle drive sequences in "Rawhide" were filmed at the ranch. The final "Little House" telefilm was "The Last Farewell". It was made in July of 1983 and later telecast on February 6, 1984.
Michael Landon blew them up for the climax of the story. The lease expired and he didn't want the facades bulldozed. It was also a defensive gesture by Michael that contained a message to Ed Friendly not to remake his series on the ranch. The show was still popular and there was a chance of this happening, but Landon made sure it wouldn't at the time. Cast member Stan Ivar took the Ingalls house facade to his private ranch, northeast of Los Angeles. A replica was erected in place of it on the property.
Portions of television series made at Big Sky Ranch include "A Call From Space", "Bonanza", "Dallas", "Father Murphy", "Gunsmoke", "Little House on the Prairie", "Quantum Leap", "Rawhide", "Sidekicks" "Tales of the Crypt" and "Yellow Rose".
In the late 20th century, the ranch was the victim of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Many of the structures on the property were severely damaged and had to be demolished. Today, only a portion of the land has been developed and was modified into homes and a large golf course. The majority of the developed region wasn't used extensively for filming of "Little House".
The area used for the filming of "Little House" wasn't part of the developed land. There is a subdivision that was built on the land and named after the Walnut Grove town in the series. But no filming was ever done on this section of the land. Prior to the 2005 Simi/Verdale wildfire, most of the "Little House" exterior sets were still standing. They were used in many films, including Buffalo Bill Cody and numerous automobile commercials.
The Nature Conservancy and a consortium of government agencies and local land trusts have been attempting to buy the remainder of the land from Issac Moradi, the owner and developer of the property for a number of years. The white farm house where the aliens land in Men in Black is about 100 yards from the "Little House" sets. The land is one of the most secluded and untouched regions left in Southern California. Hopefully, one day in the future it will be preserved for good.
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