Reconstruction of two local National Park Service sites damaged in the Woolsey Fire began on June 12

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Map of Paramount Ranch closures. Courtesy NPS

The historic Paramount Ranch and Rocky Oaks will have a number of facilities reconstructed

Four and a half years after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018, construction has finally started to restore facilities at two local Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) sites that suffered severe damage. The National Park Service (NPS) announced that the construction contract was awarded to AMG & Associates, Inc., based out of Santa Clarita. The projects are expected to be completed in about 15 months — by fall 2024. 

A total of six new buildings will be constructed to restore visitor services, employee housing, and administrative offices. Both park sites will receive utility upgrades; and the new buildings are designed to meet current design codes and standards for accessibility and fire safety.  

Paramount Ranch, located off of Cornell Road, is best known for its movie history, serving as a filming location for nearly 100 years. Much of the park’s permanent “Western Town” set, which featured a Western “Main Street” and structures that served as barns, hotels, saloons, and barbershops for decades of movies and TV shows was destroyed in the fire. The train depot used in the “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” TV series and the chapel used in HBO’s “Westworld” survived the fire. 

The new town will not be an exact replica of the one that burned. The goal is to reestablish the ranch as a movie-making hub and create opportunities for people to gather for special events, participate in education programs, and volunteer with habitat restoration. 

Four buildings will be constructed in the footprints of the historic Paramount Studios buildings, three of which will be used in western film and TV shoots. But they won’t just be fronts — they’ll be built out as indoor or covered event spaces. A “Pavilion” will be a covered event space with a 265-person capacity. The Prop Shed will include an indoor event space with capacity for 100 people, and the “Barn” will have indoor event space for up to 200 people. The fourth new building will be a restroom. 

This is just phase one of the Paramount Ranch rebuild. Once the four new buildings are complete in 2024, the NPS will work with film companies, partner organizations, and volunteers to again construct movie sets. Some sets will be temporary and only accessible while a movie is filming. Others will be educational and longer-lasting.

“It’s the National Park Service’s only site dedicated to interpreting American film history and we’re excited to bring the excitement back,” David Szymanski, superintendent of the SMMNRA, said in a prepared statement.

At the Rocky Oaks Park, located near the intersection of Kanan Dume Road and Mulholland Highway, one administrative building and one multiplex housing unit will be constructed to replace structures that burned.   

Construction will take place at the parks Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. No regular work will be performed on weekends or federal holidays with the exception of weather delays or unforeseen situations. Park officials will monitor fire weather forecasts and take necessary precautions during red flag days. 

The Paramount Ranch trail system will remain open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians during the project, but the construction area itself will be closed to the public and fenced off. Visitors can continue to park on the east side of Medea Creek and will have access to restrooms across the street.  

Hikers and cyclists will be allowed access over the Medea Creek Bridge and be guided around construction fencing to the trail system.  

Equestrians will get to the trail system via the creek crossing north of the visitor parking area. The Medea Creek bridge and the construction area were deemed too hazardous for riders during the project.  

There may be brief closures of the Medea Creek bridge (up to 20 minutes) if the contractor is moving heavy equipment or supplies. 

Rocky Oaks will also remain open for recreational use. The construction project there be in the already-closed administrative area west of the visitor parking and trailhead. One trail segment that runs through the construction area will be closed, but this won’t affect public access to the rest of the trails.