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Wednesday April 17th 2024

High Noon | 1952

High Noon film location: St Joseph's Church, Tuolumne City, California
High Noon film location: Sheriff Will Kane appeals for help: St Joseph's Church, Tuolumne City, California

Sheriff Will Kane (Gary Cooper) stands alone against the baddies, but fortunately wife Amy (Grace Kelly) does not forsake him in Fred Zinnemann’s classic film.

The opening scenes, under the credits, were shot at the Iverson Ranch near Chatsworth, north of Los Angeles, but the fictitious ‘Hadleyville, New Mexico’ was to have been played by the Main Street of Columbia State Historic Park, a preserved goldrush town in northern California.

By the time the crew arrived, however, spring had arrived and the bleak, bare main street of Columbia had burst into green leafiness.

High Noon film location: Columbia State Park, California
High Noon film location: location: too lush and green for filming: Columbia State Park, California

In the end, they used the Western Street at, by coincidence, Columbia Pictures in Burbank.

Some of the real mining town remains in the picture, though. You can't miss the white picket fence of Sam Fuller (Harry Morgan), the cowardly friend who sends his wife to claim he's not at home. This is the Wilson/McConnell House on Main Street, a few doors away from Visitor Center.

The house was built in 1878 for Charles Wilson, a shoe store owner, who died before it was completed. His widow Rose lived there until the 1930s. It changed hands a couple of times and was restored in 1941. It was the last privately-owned home in the town. It was bought by the state of California in 2005.

My photo was taken in 1998 while it was still occupied by owner Mrs McConnell, who was happy for me to take the photo of her. She died in 2003 at the age of 99.

High Noon film location: Wilson/McConnell House, Main Street, Columbia State Park, California
High Noon film location: the home of cowardly Sam Fuller: Wilson/McConnell House, Main Street, Columbia State Park, California

Columbia State Historic Park in the heart of the California Mother Lode, is a living gold rush town featuring the largest single collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state. It's just east of the town of Columbia, 45 miles northeast of Modesto in Tuolumne County.

A few miles southeast of Columbia you'll find the church where Kane pleads for special deputies to face Frank Miller. It's St Joseph's Catholic Church, Gardner Avenue at Tuolumne Road in Tuolumne City, not a city at all but a tiny town just off Route 108.

High Noon film location: Railtown 1897, Jamestown, California
High Noon film location: the railroad: Railtown 1897, Jamestown, California

The railroad was the old Sierra Railroad in central California. A stretch of the line lives on as Railtown 1897 State Historic Park at Jamestown, a few miles south of Columbia.

Dubbed the ‘Movie Railroad’ from its appearance in countless films and TV shows, including Clint Eastwood's 1985 Pale Rider, Blake Edwards' 1965 The Great Race, the Marx Bros Go West and many others.

Railtown 1897 is open Thursday to Monday.

From April to October, you can take a 6-mile, 40-minute round-trip train ride every hour between 11am and 3pm.

For the movie, the railroad station was built alongside a watertower at Warnerville, about 15 miles to the southwest.