I was on my way to visit family in Palmdale and decided to stop to check out a cluster of abandoned Old-West-style buildings I'd heard about.
I drove down a bumpy dirt road, cringing as branches of the overgrown trees scraped my car. I passed a rusty old trailer surrounded by weeds...
and then came to a large clearing occupied by beautiful wooden buildings and a squat little bell tower.
Most were large two-story structures with heavily weathered exteriors. Not a single pane of glass remained in any of the windows.
I was disappointed to find that every building was completely gutted, the walls buttressed on the inside by long wooden planks.
Ghostly threadbare curtains hung in the empty windows, waving in the breeze.
Acton originally served as the site of a temporary railroad camp when the Southern Pacific Railroad was under construction in the late 1870s. The actual town of Acton was founded in 1887 by miners who worked in the nearby Red Rover Mine and named it after Acton, Massachusetts. In the late 1800s, Acton began to transform into a ranching and farming community.
Henry T. Gage, a mine owner who governed California from 1899 to 1903, proposed moving the state capital from Sacramento to Acton, where one of his mines was located, but the plan never panned out.
Acton now has a population of over 7,500 and is home to several animal preserves, one of which is run by actress Tippi Hedren.
This neat group of old buildings is located on Polsa Rosa Ranch, which has served as a filming location since the 1970s.
I was not able to find much historical information about the ranch. I can't be sure whether the structures were originally built there or relocated from other locations. Though it may not technically be a ghost town, several tragic deaths have occurred there.
In September of 2012 a water tank cleaner drowned on the set of the remake of "The Lone Ranger" starring Johnny Depp. Then in February of 2013, three people died in a helicopter crash during the filming of a show for the Discovery Channel.
A surprising number of movies contain scenes filmed in Acton, California, including:
- Terminator 3
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Army of Darkness
- Red Dawn
- Blood Work
- "High and Dry" by Radiohead
- "Swingin" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- "The Day That Never Comes" by Metallica
And come back next week, when I'll share pictures and stories from an abandoned home in Los Angeles, formerly owned by Bob Hite, the lead singer of Canned Heat, and the death place of one of the members of the infamous 27 Club.