Virginia City from Bonanza was in an episode of Gunsmoke

The fake “Paramount mountain” is unmistakable in both.

Over its long run, Gunsmoke experimented with various kinds of episodes. Many featured the whole cast but sometimes the story focused mainly, sometimes completely, on one character. When a show has over 600 episodes, it can get away with that sort of thing.

One such episode is season seven's "The Gallows." Kitty, Chester and the rest make appearances, but the story mostly follows Matt as he escorts a suspected murderer to Dodge to stand trial. The suspect, Pruit Dover, saves the Marshal's life on their way and instead of escaping, helps Matt recover from the gunshot wound.

Despite Matt speaking on his behalf, Dover is convicted and sentenced to hang in Hays City. Matt risks his badge, telling Dover to ride away before they get there. Dover obliges but ultimately decides to face the gallows, saving Matt's reputation. It's a dramatic tale about duty, law and the meaning of justice.

The same street seen in The Brady Bunch
Toward the end of the episode, Matt and Dover ride into Hays City, a town like most others in Westerns at the time except for a large mountain in the background. Fans of Bonanza might recognize the street as one that looks remarkably similar to a street in Virginia City, near the Cartwright's Ponderosa Ranch. The buildings are undoubtedly the same but the peak above it all is what really gives it away.

The set used for both Virginia and Hays City was the Western town on the Paramount backlot. Gunsmoke and Bananza were just two of many TV shows and movies that utilized its boardwalks and backdrop. It even shows up in The Brady Bunch episode "Ghost Town, U.S.A."

In his book Paramount: City of Dreams, Steven Bingen notes that the "mountain" was built in 1955 out of chicken wire and plaster. It used forced perspective (similar to castles at Disney theme parks) to make it seem farther away and therefore the size of an actual mountain. In reality, it was not much more than a three-dimensional façade constructed directly behind the town's buildings. While adding a scenic touch to anything filmed on the lot, it also covered up the side of the warehouse that sat beyond the town’s edge.

The mountain was eventually torn down in the 1970s but lives on in the backgrounds of many a scene.

Watch Gunsmoke on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 1 PM & 1:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

19 Comments

Post a comment
iloveoldtvshows 6 days ago
I bet metv won’t change to fall schedule until September 21 2020
latterdaysister 11 days ago
The Outer Limits would be perfect with the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock. But put them on earlier so we day-timers can see them. But not 6a.m. -- 11a.m.
Inrodwetrust 12 days ago
Also one step beyond would be a nice bonus. 🤪🤪
Inrodwetrust 12 days ago
Since everyone else is asking for favorite shows here’s mine. Dear MeTV please include the outer limits to your fall lineup between twilight zone and Alfred Hitchcock.
xena69 12 days ago
Please!!! Put back The Beverly hillbillies. Gilligan's island doesn't even go with the other television shows that are on @ that time.
Pacificsun 13 days ago
Dear MeTV Staff: The Summer of MeTV is over! So what are the schedule changes going to be? Heroes & Icons has already made their announcement!
iloveoldtvshows 13 days ago
MeTV when are you going to tea eat the new schedule after Labor Day, you haven’t done it yet
tekamc 13 days ago
Can y'all start showing, "Eight is Enough" that was my favorite show when I was in high school. Thanks
tekamc 13 days ago
I love Beverly Hillbillies, please bring it back soon.
texasluva 15 days ago
Cut! Will someone get that chicken-wired mountain straight! We can't have it looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Maintenance!
Load previous comments
Pacificsun texasluva 13 days ago
I think we need to start poking MeTV for the new Fall 2020 Schedule!!
Let's do it here!
texasluva Pacificsun 13 days ago
LOL. It all started in the pantry of the movie The Shinning. MPH did not like the fact that a ghost would knock on the door instead of just showing up. We just went with some fun with it. It is all somewhere here on MeTV threads.
texasluva Pacificsun 13 days ago
Okay MeTV get with it on the new Fall 2020 schedule. I figured they would most likely email me when all said and done. That way I am not distraught when Green Acres shows up in one of my watched time slots.
Pacificsun texasluva 13 days ago
It's great to banter back and forth with MrsPhilHarris. M. Harris keeps up with all the comments and is very responsive! Glad you found a side-bar to keep you'all interested!!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?