parks, eclectic shopping, wine tasting, fun dining, four-season recreation, scenic vistas and a variety of excellent lodging opportunities. All these wonderful amenities have helped shape Tuolumne County's rich film history and make it a great destination for current film projects.
Tuolumne County is a magnet for film enthusiasts. Over 300 feature films, television show and commercials have been made in Tuolumne County. As early as 1919, filmmakers recognized the area as a valuable and convenient source of locations rich in diverse natural features and vintage architectural styles. They discovered that almost any type of scenery in the United States and beyond could be duplicated in Tuolumne County.
Movies and TV shows filmed here include: High Noon(Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper), Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza and Highway to Heaven (Michael Landon), The Red Pony (Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara), The Great Race(Jack Lemmon), Big Valley (Barbara Stanwyck), Lassie (June Lockhart), Rawhideand Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood) and Back to the Future III (Michael J. Fox).
One of the most popular filming locations, especially for westerns, is Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which is also known as “The Movie Railroad.” The State Park is home to one of the most photographed locomotives in the world, Sierra #3. Perhaps the most famous scene was pushing a DeLorean time machine down the tracks in Back to the Future III. Visitors to the park can view movie memorabilia and photos and see Sierra #3 up close and personal.
Another very popular location for filming is Columbia State Historic Park. Add a little dirt to the streets of this authentic gold rush town and it is suddenly transformed back to the 1800's. Meticulously preserved buildings have led Columbia to doubling as many cities of the 1800s era including New York and Chicago. In the television series, Little House on the Prairie, the town became Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and in the classic western, High Noon, it was known as Hadleyville. The Wilson-McConnell House in Columbia is where Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) tries to recruit Sam Fuller (Henry Morgan, aka Colonel Sherman Potter in M*A*S*H*).
There are additional filming locations throughout the County and the Tuolumne County Film Map helps visitors to find those locations and take a step with the stars. The Movie Map is available at both Visitor Center locations: Sonora and Chinese Camp.
Tuolumne County also boasts two film festivals: The ITSA Film Festival which takes place in November and is one of the hottest short film festivals in central California. Festival goers can attend panels and workshops, watch films and meet industry professionals in historic downtown Sonora venues. Film Fest Twain Harte takes place over Labor Day Weekend and focuses on western-inspired productions.