Image above: Parry Lodge, Kanab, Utah, 2013, Finetooth. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 3.0
Spotlight on Lesser Known History
Parry Lodge, Kanab, Utah
America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Parry Lodge, Kanab, Utah
It's a story about a lodge that lured Hollywood to Kanab to make motion pictures there. Yet, it's as much a story of Kanab itself, for its unique Utah flare, and its gateway to the awesome sites that surround it. You can stay here and visit the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks, and so many more. And if you're lucky enough to stay, or just visit, historic Parry Lodge, established in 1892 and upgraded in 1931 to the vista you see today. It has been named one of the best roadside inns along the way, then, boy, you've had a western treat of nature and history. Image above: Parry Lodge, Kanab, Utah, 2019, Mramoeba. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 4.0.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Parry Lodge, Kanab, Utah
How did it start? Well, as a farmhouse, one and one half stories that took in visitors along Highway 89 who were searching for lodging as they took in the sites, or went hunting for treasure in this town just north of the Arizona border in Kanab, Utah. By 1924, it was a lodge that began to house Hollywood folks who loved to film their westerns in the surrounding area. The Parry Brothers were famous for their guiding business at Zion National Park and began luring influential filmmakers to their town and lodge. First film located there, Deadwood Coach. With this sudden influx of famous folks, the Parry Brothers decided to build a roadside inn to better house them in 1931, the Inn you will see today.
And who has stayed and/or filmed here more than one hundred times, yes, one hundred films. John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, Maureen O'Hara, Dean Martin, Roy Rogers, and Ronald Reagan. And what famous films? How about the Lone Ranger and the Outlaw Josey Wales.
And it should come as no surprise that today it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It sits along two blocks of Kanab's main street with five buildings and eighty-nine rooms. It has a heated pool, restaurant, and the Old Barn Theater.
Image above: Parry Lodge, unknown date or author. Below: Center Street of Kanab, Utah, Highway 89, 2013, P199. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 3.0.
Where Is It
Parry Lodge is located at 89 East Center Street, Kanab, Utah 84741. As noted, it is just over the northern border of Arizona in southern Utah, and it is in the center of a lot of everything. Grand Staircase-Escalante is only fifteen miles away. Zion National Park is thirty miles away. Bryce Canyon, seventy-six miles away and the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, eighty miles from the lodge.
What is There Now
The site includes the iconic front, a coffee shop and restaurant that serves a home style American breakfast buffet, and rooms of various styles, from cottages to traditional roadside motel rooms once stayed in by Hollywood royalty. The Johnson Farm House is still there, plus other buildings like the Old Barn Theater and Movie One and Movie Two. Yes, there's also a pool. Find out later who paid for it.
When Open and How Much
Year round operation with rooms that cost $99 to $159 per night. Discounts for three night stays.
Fees subject to change.
Kanab Visitor Center, Bureau of Land Management
Kane County Visitor Center
Surrounded by so much natural beauty, plus those unique spots in Kanab itself, you'll have plenty to see, and probably not enough time to see it all.
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Film History in Kanab
Known at Little Hollywood since the first shooting of Deadwood Coach by Tom Mix and Tony the Wonder Horse in 1924, and its reputation as a film location was lifted greatly when Cecile B. DeMille made Union Pacific there in 1939, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, and Robert Preston. It was followed by John Ford and his Drums Along the Mohawk, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert in 1939 as well.
During the depression, the film industry kept the small farming town of Kanab alive.
Kanab would host over one hundred film crews over the years. Movies and television shows such as Stagecoach (1939), The Lone Ranger, Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone, El Dorado (1966), Planet of the Apes (1968), Mackenna's Gold, Western Union (1941), The Desperadoes (1943), Buffalo Bill (1944), Westward the Women (1952), Tomahawk Trail (1957), Fort Bowie (1958), Sergeants Three (1962), Duel at Diablo (1966), Ride in the Whirlwind (1965), The Shooting (1966), and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).
The Hollywood actors got along with their Mormon opposites. The Mormons opened bars that served alcohol and some of the Hollywood stars, such as Frank Sinatra, paid for the swimming pool to be built at Parry Lodge, as well as the uniforms for the high school football team.
The film industry in Kanab began to wane after the Outlaw Josey Wales was filmed there; a film by Disney based on the book, "John Carter of Mars," was one of the most recent.
Photo above: Western film set at Kanab's Little Hollywood Museum of Western Film, 2019, Mramoeba. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 4.0.
First settled by Europeans in 1864, ten Mormon families founded the town six years later. It grew slowly, with Fort Kanab built on the east side of Kanab Creek for defense against Indian attack. It was also used as a base for exploring the area around it that would later become famous and made into national parks and monuments. What does the name mean? Kanab is the Paiute word for "place of the willows."
It is located on the Colorado Plateau along Kanab Creek. It has a borderline semi-arid climate, wetter than most towns in the area with snowfall that varies wildly, from none to a record 74.5 inches in 2001. It is hot.
Prior to it becoming a movie and tourist town, a prospector, Freddy Crystal, thought the mountains around Kanab were the sites of Montezuma's treasure. He and others dug from 1914 until his plan to drain a lake, because an underground cave might contain it, was stopped by the government.
Kanab has always been a small town, about four hundred and nine people lived there when the first farmhouse Parry Lodge was opened; even today, 2019 census estimate, there are only four thousand nine hundred and thirty-one residents.
Who gave it the name, Little Hollywood? William Wellman, an American actor and film director.
Photo above: Bureau of Land Management Visitor Center in Kanab, 2020, BLM Employee. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management
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More to See in Kanab
If you want to see more about Little Hollywood, today you can visit some of the sets and history at the Little Hollywood Land Movie Set Museum and Trading Post, located on Center Street, which is currently for sale.
Other unique attractions include Moqui Cave, a privately owned cavern five miles north of town. It was supposedly used by the Anasazi people as a food shelter, by Kanab residents during prohibition as a speakeasy, and opened as a tourist attraction in 1951.
Other in town attractions include the Kanab Heritage House Museum, built in 1894, Denny's Wigwam gift shop and restaurant, the Kanab Museum, and lots of restaurants of whimsy and good food.
Photo above: Stagecoach advertising Denny's Wigwam Gift Shop, 1987, John Margolies. Courtesy Library of Congress.
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