VERDE HERITAGE1973: NEW WESTERN TOWN

"By John Moore"

"After fording the creek, we bounced along the dirt road a ways, made a slight left turn and entered the town."

"As we slowly drove through town, making the only visible tracks on the dirt road, other than a few hoofprints, we passed the sheriff's office, assayer's office, barber shop, Golden Goose Hotel and Saloon and general store, on the left side of the street. On the right side of the street, we looked over the freight shop, Western Union office, bank building and justice of the peace office. When we got down to the Stoll and Sons Gunsmith building we hung a U-turn and stopped the car."

"With Black Mountain looming ahead of us, we looked over the Town of Bitter Creek, a western movie set located on the Bradshaw Ranch 20 miles west of Sedona."

"'The town was built with this view in mind,' said Bob Bradshaw, owner of the ranch, as he pointed north to Black Mountain. 'Eventually we plan to build another street, so we can use the setting this way,' he said, pointing to his right, where the massive Red Rocks towered in the distance. 'Let's go inside,' Bradshaw suggested."

"Getting out of the car, we crossed the dirt street and went up the steps to the wooden sidewalk. Pushing open the swinging bar doors, we entered the Golden Goose Hotel and Saloon. It was empty inside, except for a half dozen movie lights, some lumber, an electric saw and a generator. The front of the building had signs for the saloon, general store, and barber shop, but inside it was just a wide open building, without any walls separating the shops."

"Bradshaw explained that movie companies could set up a saloon scene and shoot it from the general store area, or vice versa."

"The Town of Bitter Creek was conceived by Bradshaw, Larry Russell and Buddy Stoll, of Sedona Productions, Ltd. James Reynolds, a local artist, designed the town. The town was finished in September of last year, but as of yet, it has not been used for any movies. Bradshaw said a couple of film companies are currently 'in the talking stages' with him for use of the town."

"The poor winter weather has not helped to sell the location. 'It has been slow on westerns recently,' Bradshaw said, 'but it's going to come back; there's no reason why it shouldn't. Westerns will sell forever.'"

"For years the Sedona area, because of its Red Rock background, has been a choice location for movie companies shooting westerns. However, the companies had to go elsewhere when the script called for shots in a town location or inside. Hopefully, with Bitter Creek, that problem has been solved and film makers can now do almost all of their production in Sedona."

"But Bradshaw does not want to stop with just what he has at Bitter Creek. Eventually, Bradshaw hopes to expand the town to include a hotel, barn and railroad depot, with a short stretch of railroad tracks. He also has picked out perfect locations close to the town for a fort and ranch house."

"There are other western town locations in the state which movie companies use, but the only fort is in Utah and only 1 movie ranch, located near Nogales, is being used by production companies."

"Producers of the recent movie, 'The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing,' had wanted to shoot part of the film in the Sedona area, according to Bradshaw, but some of the scenes called for a fort, so they went to Utah instead."

"Bob Bradshaw, rancher, photographer, actor, stunt man, movie location scout, casting agent, has lived in the Sedona area since 1946. The Bradshaw Ranch, 130 acres of deeded land west of Sedona, is surrounded by Forest Service land. From a ridge above the Bradshaw Ranch home, a person could turn a full 360 degree circle and not see any sign of civilization, other than a few fence posts, and with the right sunlight, Jerome shining in the distance. He also leases 6,000 acres of government land near the Boynton Canyon area to run his cattle."

"The list of films and actors Bradshaw had worked with runs like 'Who's Who' in the western movie business. 'Broken Arrow,' 'Rounders,' 'Wild Rovers,' 'Stay Away Joe,' 'Johnny Guitar,' 'Half Breed,' 'Drum Beat,' 'Apache,' 'Cowboy and the Redhead,' and 'Cimarron Strip,' are just a few of the motion pictures Bradshaw has worked on."

"Thumbing through Bradshaw's scrapbook, one finds pictures of many of Hollywood's greats: Glenn Ford, Ward Bond, Rock Hudson, Donna Reed, Dick Powell, Robert Young, Jeff Chandler, Charles Bronson, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, William Holden, Elvis Presley, Ryan O'Neal ... There are such notations as 'Bob doubling for Lee Marvin,' 'Bob doubling for Ryan O'Neal,' 'Bob doubling for Zachary Scott.'"

"But Bradshaw does not limit himself to just motion pictures. He is also involved in the making of commercials in the Sedona area. Some of the more recent commercials he has worked on include Cudahay, Chevrolet, Seagrams, Acme boots, Ford, and Kal Kan."

"He also occasionally becomes involved in some other pleasurable jobs, like wrangling horses for Playboy magazine when they did some location shooting in Sedona for 1 of their centerfolds."

"Bradshaw explained how he gets a production company to come to the Sedona area and exactly what his job entails before and after they arrive. Most of his work is done through the mail and by telephone these days, although at one time he made the rounds to all the companies. Bradshaw said he is always sending out literature on the town and the area to production companies. When a firm is interested, they usually call him and send him a script of the production. He then begins scouting out possible locations, setting up alternates in case the director does not like the first one Bradshaw picks. Bradshaw then selects talent for the production, if the company request it. He uses mostly people from Sedona, although there are some in Cottonwood and Flagstaff he has called on to help him out from time to time.. Bradshaw also secures any props the company may need and won't bring themselves. He explained that motion picture firms usually provide everything, but firms shooting commercials just fly out with their cameras and people and Bradshaw has to provide all the props."

"Memories of his years in the film industry flow easily for Bradshaw. Sedona Productions and everyone else in the Valley can look forward to years of sitting in a theater and watching people like William Holden and Jack Elam have their big gunfight in a little western town with Black Mountain or the Red Rocks nicely filling out the background."

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, March 29, 1973; page 8.)

See: The Verde Independent; "1972: SEDONA; 'Bitter Creek' Comes to Life;" September 5, 2017.

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