The Simi Valley City Council has agreed to pay $58,000 toward reopening Corriganville Park to campers and sightseers this summer and for additional first-year maintenance costs.
Preservationists hope that this first step will ultimately entice movie studios to invest $600,000 to $700,000 needed to resurrect a movie lot where producers once shot thousands of westerns and hundreds of television episodes.
“We’re excited because we’ve been plugging away to try and get the park open for nine years,” Corriganville Preservation Committee member Gregg Anderson said of the council’s unanimous approval late Monday. “We hope [Hollywood] will get interested and support the park by using it frequently as a film location.”
About $186,000 is earmarked for grading the trails, hooking up water and electric utilities, weeding and hiring a daytime caretaker, Anderson said.
The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District has matched the city’s $43,000 commitment to open the park, while the other $100,000 comes from a matching federal grant awarded to the city’s two Rotary Clubs.
The city and park district will also split the additional $30,000 in maintenance costs.
Ray “Crash” Corrigan purchased the site in 1937 for $11,354 as job security for his acting and stuntman career, which began to fade in the early 1940s.
A dozen years later, he expanded his enterprise by constructing an Old West theme town, which featured stuntman shows, stagecoach and pony rides, Indian crafts and boat rides on a man-made lake that Johnny Weissmuller swam in as “Jungle Jim” in numerous movies and a short-lived television show.
More than 3,000 movies and hundreds of television shows were filmed there from the late 1930s through the early 1960s.
By the mid-1960s, the popularity of B westerns and the theme park had diminished considerably.
Bob Hope purchased the site in 1965 and sold it to Calabasas-based developers Griffin Homes in 1988.
Griffin Homes almost immediately sold it to the Rancho Simi Open Space Conservation Agency, which consists of City Council members, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and one resident.