December is a time for celebrations. Catching a new holiday release or planning family movie nights are a part of the season for many. Take time this year to have a Vail movie night. The landscape and sites around Vail have been the setting for many movies. In The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean one can spot the Santa Rita Mountains and Vail residents playing extra’s. Keep a sharp eye out for Dorothy and Virgil Johnson. As a Vail School Board member, Virgil helped drive Vail’s first real school bus across country.

The early 1900s Estrada homestead and ranch house in the foothills of Mt. Fagan can be seen in the 1967 western Return of the Gunfighter. As an aging gunfighter and young cowboy team up to avenge the murder of a local rancher and protect his daughter, “Every bullet that sang in the night was to bring the Return of the Gunfighter”. Watch carefully for the horses running through the Estrada’s home.

Moreover, just when you think you have seen it all, in Night of the Lepus, giant rabbits have taken over Colossal Cave and are running amuck throughout Vail. They are attacking unsuspecting residents. Scientists trying to solve the problem of rabbit over-population on local ranches inadvertently develop a strain of giant, bloodthirsty, resident, horse and cow-eating bunnies. Watch for the rabbits in their hiding place inside Colossal Cave and be amazed at law enforcements’ solution to end the bunny scourge using the railroad tracks.

In The Barrier, shot in 1957, local ranchers take shelter in a nearby cave (Colossal) and discover a “barrier” that acts as a boundary in a war waged by alien forces to protect Uranus. The husband and wife are surrounded by a bright light; and then, a deep voice asks them if they want to go to Uranus. Ranchers Bob and Amy Alison decide to remain earthbound. The deep voice is that of, then, Colossal Cave operator Joe Maierhauser.

After you watch The Barrier and Night of the Lepus, head out to Colossal Cave, take a tour, and see if you can spot where scenes were filmed! There have been many classic “B” movies filmed in and around Vail. Check out the VPS website to discover more.

Historic Preservation Working for Vail

Most VPS projects are Powered By JTED. We are proud to have directly impacted the education and provided over 58k in funding that brings hands-on preservation and construction trades training to over 120 Cienega H.S. Construction Tech students working on the 1915 Section Foreman House rehab project at Esmond Station K8.

VPS has brought 6k in funding and a 23-tree fruit orchard to the Esmond Station K8 Heritage Garden program. We are connecting students and partners, including IMPACT of Southern Arizona, to facilitate students giving back to their community through the donation of produce.

The public-private partnerships that Vail Preservation Society has built and the over 30k in grant funds earned by VPS will bring public art to Vail’s main street-Colossal Cave Road. The murals, created by students from six schools working with local artist Royce Davenport, will be installed the winter of 2016. When you donate to the Vail Preservation Society, a 501 c 3, you are investing in Vail’s future, our students, and our quality of life. As 2015 comes to a close, VPS wants to thank our many partners for their support: The COBB Team, GVAAC, SW Foundation, Union Pacific RR Foundation, the Arizona Humanities, Rita Ranch Storage & Car Wash and all of our volunteers and friends.

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J.J. Lamb