Three years ago, I decided to sell everything and leave the small river town I called home. I wanted to see the country instead of being stuck in just one part of it. I wanted to feel the energies of new places and different people, and I wanted to experience the glories of history. My adventures are a constant struggle between fear and courage, but we humans are explorers and pioneers, and we find our inner strength when the end state is the absolute unknown.
In 1927 Paramount Pictures purchased 2,400 acres in the hills between Malibu and the Valley for use as a “movie ranch.” The property had rolling grasslands, oak & walnut groves, streams, and canyons – everything they needed to create the illusion of wilderness.
After World War II the studio sold the property where parcels were sold to private investors. In 1952 Bill Hertz bought 326 acres that still bear the Paramount name, where he turned the land into a western town. In 1980 the National Park Service purchased the land and revitalized the old movie ranch.
Virgil Earp, the town marshal, enlists Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday. As they walk down Freemont Street on the way to the O.K. Corral, Virgil hands Doc his shotgun in exchange for Doc’s cane. Doc wears a long overcoat and conceals the shotgun underneath it, as not to frighten the townspeople. In the tense moment that followed, Morgan and Doc cock their guns. Suddenly, Billy Claiborne, who stands away from the area, bolts and runs. Ike grapples with Wyatt, who was about to pistol-whip him. The tension explodes and the fight begins.
Just off one of my favorite roads, Hwy 441, you’ll find the old Apalachee School House. The now ghost town was named for the Apalachee River, that flows nearby. The town used to have a depot and a Post Office. The Post Office was closed in the 1950s. Apalachee is now a rural area north of Madison, Georgia.
This is a place with a rich and colorful history. I’m talking about one of those truly Southern Places, shaped by Native American, African and European influences. The ruins sit in a complex ecosystem alongside a major river, that once fed a good-sized little town, a successful textile industry, agriculture, the exchanges of commerce and a decidedly unique public citizenry.
The town of Juliette is an unincorporated town, which was first called Glover, after Dr. Glover, who built the cotton mill near the river in East Juliette. Juliette received its name from the daughter of the engineer that built the railroad in 1882. Her name was Juliette McCracken. McCracken Street is still the name of the main street today.