For the past decade, Paramount Ranch has been the perfect place for Boy Scouts who love movies and TV shows to perform their Eagle Scout service projects.
The National Park Service site near Agoura Hills, Calif., is home to a historic Old West movie set used in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on CBS, HBO’s Westworld and hundreds of other movie and TV productions.
Sadly, Paramount Ranch was heavily damaged in the wildfire, known as the Woolsey fire, that burned near Los Angeles last month. The fire destroyed a saloon, jail, sheriff’s station and other buildings. In doing so, it erased the hard work of several Eagle Scouts who performed service there.
For Troop 127 of Agoura Hills, Paramount Ranch has been a kind of backyard, says committee chairwoman Kathy Patton.
“So many childhood memories among troop Boy Scouts sprung from troop visits to the Western Town, hikes on the trails that surround it, and the leadership experience and volunteerism from many, many Eagle projects,” she says.
Fifteen Eagle projects
Over the past 10 years, Boy Scouts and volunteers from Troop 127 have completed 15 Eagle projects at Paramount Ranch.
Movie historian Mike Malone, who serves as the liaison between Troop 127 and the National Park Service, says these projects “will always hold a special place in my heart.”
“It’s been a true privilege to help these young men achieve their goals and, just as importantly, help to shape the life skills they learn from their projects,” he says.
While their projects might be gone, the leadership experience these young men gained lives on.
And as Paramount Ranch rebuilds, a new generation of Troop 127 Boy Scouts will lead the way.
Troop 127 and Paramount Ranch
In 2009, Justin Regan of Troop 127 planned and executed his Eagle project at Paramount Ranch. He led volunteers as they refurbished picnic tables, repainted buildings, rebuilt a wall and redesigned the sign that hangs above the sheriff’s office.
His project is one in a long line of Troop 127 Eagle projects at the site. A few other recent projects:
- Justin Zilberstein built a rodent-proof storage room inside the former horse barn.
- Pat Mrachek refurbished 17 picnic tables.
- Kevin Mahoney built new railings on the stage of the pavilion and installed new fencing to protect the giant valley oak in town.
At least two scheduled Eagle Scout projects at Paramount Ranch have been postponed.
Life Scout Tyler Rush planned to begin work this week on rebuilding the steps of the ranch’s church. The church, featured prominently in Westworld, was spared in the fire, but the site remains closed to Eagle projects until the National Park Service confirms that everything is totally safe.
Fortunately, Tyler doesn’t turn 18 until 2020, so he has some time to wait for the ranch to reopen or think of an alternate project.
The National Park Service announced last month that it plans to rebuild Paramount Ranch’s Western Town in two years. When volunteers are needed, Troop 127 leader Patton says she expects her Boy Scouts to be the first in line.
“We at Troop 127 are dedicated to supporting the Paramount project efforts to rebuild Paramount Ranch through fundraising efforts and recruiting Eagle candidates for projects at this special place,” she says.
In the meantime, Pack 127 and Troop 127 will continue to serve their community in other ways. Patton says the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have been visible and active since the fire. They have filled sandbags, collected donations and served meals to first responders.
When visitors return to Paramount Ranch, these young people will return, too. Their efforts will ensure this isn’t “The End” of this Paramount Ranch story. It’s more like, “To Be Continued.”