"Way out west on the Triple R..."
Ever watch the "Spin and Marty" serials on "The Mickey Mouse Club" and wish you could visit the Triple R Ranch? Well, that was one of my childhood goals, but little did I dream while growing up in Brooklyn that one day I would actually find it.
I started working for Disney in 1976, and much to my surprise, one of my first projects was at Disney's Golden Oak Ranch, which was the real-life site used for the Triple R. The ranch is located on Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall, California, which is about a one-hour drive from the heart of Los Angeles. To reach the ranch, you head north out of Los Angeles on Interstate 5, then continue onto Route 14. Just one or two exits later is Placerita Canyon Road. Exit and turn right, then start looking for the entrance to the ranch. It will be about 2 miles ahead on the left.
A word to the wise: stay out of the ranch! It is private property and the rule is strictly enforced. However, if you pass by the entrance, you can get a nice view of the town built for "Roots II" and some of the more modern sets added on recent years. Go just a little further still to the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, on the right side of the road, for there's a trail up to the edge of the ranch where you can visit the tree the ranch was named after (keep reading for more information on the story behind the name.)
When I first visited the ranch, filming had just been completed on segments of "Pete's Dragon", and there were road signs all over for the fictitious town of "Passamaquoddy". There was also a huge pile of lumber, the remnants of Mame's house from the Lucille Ball version of "Mame". But, best of all, there were the buildings of the Triple R! The ranch foreman's office was in the building that was seen as Logan's office, and the bunkhouse and barn were there as well.
One other very familiar structure still stands there today. It's a covered bridge - probably the only one in southern California - spanning a man-made stream. This bridge has been in countless movies, tv shows and commercials; you can spot it in Disney films like "Follow Me, Boys!" with Fred MacMurray and non-Disney productions such as "Bonanza" and "The Greatest American Hero". Look for it below.
The ranch was used then, and now, as an executive retreat. There's a very comfortable house and pool for visitors. In fact, there's two pools, but you will have to look long and hard to find the old one; it was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake and filled in, but it was still there in 1976, half buried by brush.
Here are some pictures from June 2002 of the Golden Oak Ranch, taken from Placerita Canyon Road.
The main gate to the Ranch, with two large signs warning away uninvited visitors.
I wouldn't drop by without an invitation!
This western town was originally built for Roots 2.
This unusual looking track was supposedly built to test the vehicles for the then new World of Motion attraction at Epcot.
I hope that gives you some information on the history of the ranch. The Ranch has changed in recent years as Disney has continued to expand filming there. While much of the formerly empty land has now been turned into filming locations, the overall look is still rustic.
For more history of the Ranch check out this fan site.
If you want current information on filming at the Ranch, you will need to contact Disney directly. I cannot answer any questions about filming requirements or help get you onto the property.