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May 27, 2010

3 Women - More Info Surfaces

A May 1977 article in Palm Springs Life about Robert Altman filming Three Women has been made available on the web.

Five locations in the Coachella Valley were used in shooting "3 Women": the Sunbeam Inn, a small Palm Springs hotel which, for the film, becomes the gaudy Purple Sage Apartments; the Joseph M. Shapiro Eye Center of Desert Hospital; Coffee's Hot Mineral Pools and Hotel in Desert Hot Springs, represented in the movie as a geriatric hospital; the Palm Springs Greyhound bus station; and the Hidden Springs Ranch Club in Thousand Palms, which was built by Charles Doyle in 1945 and has stood deserted for the past dozen years.

The information about Hidden Springs Ranch Club is new to me. That would have been the location used for the Dodge City bar/ranch/motocross hangout. If anyone has more specific info on where the Hidden Springs Ranch Club was located in Thousand Palms, then I'll go do some walking around in the desert - mountain lions be damned!

Here are some shots from the film showing exteriors at Dodge City. Of course, some of what you see was added by Altman's crew, but he has said in interviews that it was an existing ranch that he improved upon for the movie.
3 Women - Dodge City (71)

3 Women - Dodge City (65)

3 Women - Dodge City (33)

3 Women - Dodge City (70)

3 Women - Dodge City (82)

3 Women - Dodge City (66)

UPDATE: In this March 1962 issue of "Desert Magazine" (on page 13, I believe) Hidden Springs Ranch is described as being along Ramon Road: "Paved Ramon Road leads past Hidden Springs Ranch, then a graded county road swings left. Strung out along the flank of low hills is the oasis of Willis Palms."

So, somewhere between Varner Road and Willis Palms.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Film/Movies | permalink | May 27, 2010 at 12:39 PM


I believe the only structure that remains is the "Purple Sage" apartment building on Camino Monte Vista in Palm Springs. https://ronslog.typepad.com/ronslog/2010/03/purple-sage-apartments-located.html

Posted by: Ron Gilbert at Nov 27, 2019 12:59:45 PM

Dear all, I did research on 3 women locations, because I would like to create a VR environment for an art project, based on at least one of the former set locations outdoors via a dronecamera and photogrammetry. I understand that the ranch (as it existed in the movie) is not recognizable anymore,right? I checked via google earth into shadow moutain lane. Does anyone know, if any of the original locations still exists and hasn´t changed much ?

Posted by: Kathrin at Nov 27, 2019 11:12:01 AM

This is amazing to find! Charles Doyle was my great grandfather! My mom has photos of this ranch as a kid growing up. She told me stories of her visiting as a kid in the summers. I was curious to find if the ranch was still standing but I didn't expect to find all this. I can not wait to share this with her and my grandfather when I visit again.

Posted by: Whitney Golden at Apr 25, 2017 10:17:39 PM

Here's the text of that 1948 "Desert Sun" article.

Hidden Springs Ranch

Charles Doyle's Third Major Desert Development Rapidly Nearing Completion

SUNSHINE AND VlSTAS—Hidden Springs Ranch, an exclusive residential development of Charles Doyle will soon hold a formal opening of its new club house and swimming pool. The development is located a few miles east of Thousand Palms at the junction of Ramon road and Highway 99. Photographs show the snow-capped mountains viewed from the development grounds and, inset, the ranch clubhouse which is nearing completion. (Johnny Pagoria photos.)

Now hard at work on his third major development in this area, Charles Doyle, owner of Hidden Springs Ranch, might well be called "the man who came back." After building up two successful projects in Palm Springs, this pioneer developer became involved in four years of litigation and returned to Pasadena broken in health and spirit.

That was ten years ago. Now back in his favorite role of developer and on the desert which he loves, Charles Doyle is again enjoying good health and the satisfaction of coming back to see another dream realized.

It was back in the '20's Mr. Doyle paid a visit to the Desert Inn, and fell in love with the desert. He liked the simplicity and informality of the surroundings there and in 1928 built Deep Well Ranch with these objectives in mind. They have endured to this day at the well known guest ranch.

A YEAR LATER Mr. Doyle went on to develop Smoke Tree Ranch which soon became known as one of the desert's most distinctive residential developments. It was over this property that the litigation arose in later years.

The year 1941 found this resourceful developer back in the desert—flying over it by day and camping in it by night—looking for another desirable city for a desert comunity. He decided on the area north of Thousand Palms and named it Hidden Springs Ranch. Doyle was ready to start development when the recent war began, so instead went off with the American Engineers to the tropics of Nicaragua and Honduras on heavy construction wor.

EARLY 1946 found him again on the desert with what he often calls "a lot of rabbit land and an idea" and everything hard to obtain. It was no "push button" job to obtain several miles of high tension power line out to Hidden Springs Ranch, drill wells and develop water or obtain paved roads, but he did all these accomplishments in less than 20 months.

Then the Texas "Big Inch" gas line arrived in Southern California and crossed his 1300 acre development. The result was gas which is bein ginstalled at the residential community and Hidand Hidden Springs club this week. To cap accomplishment, Richard F. McCarthy came along from Chicago and built a $150,000 swank club. The club is nearing completion and will be formally open this coming fall.

HIDDEN SPRINGS Ranch now boasts sales to owners of nearly $l00,000 of estate sites and currently has eleven homes under construction.

"These accomplishments have been made without promotions or fly-by-night, dubious financing which might fall down on one's neck some financially frosty day," said Doyle, who relies entirely on his own financial resources.

Mr. Doyle has never recognized the word "can't" and his record of activity has earned him the reputation of being one of the most resourceful developers of the Palm Springs area. He takes great pride in the high type of clientele he has been able to secure through confidence in his ability to perform. His boast is that he has never made a promise he has not fulfilled in his developments.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 10, 2015 10:35:48 AM

Managed to find an article about the opening of the Hidden Springs Ranch in 1948, there's even a couple of pictures!


Posted by: Doug Gardiner at Aug 10, 2015 6:38:51 AM

Thank you, Doug. I still keep half an eye out for a piece of the pool with a little bit of Bodhi Winds artwork still visible.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 7, 2015 9:19:11 PM

Hi Ron, I was the one who initially contacted the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society back in 2009 with my question about the filming locations used in 3 Women. I am so happy that this has been explored further by you and other fans of the film. I think we can safely say that all locations have now been identified and confirmed. This is more than I could have ever hoped for. It is sad that time and tide have erased many of the buildings from the film, not to mention the artwork of Bodhi Wind, I am just grateful for the masterful work of Robert Altman that has captured these things forever on film. I'll be heading to California from Australia later this year and will be visiting these locations myself. Thank you for your efforts with this project!

Posted by: Doug Gardiner at Aug 7, 2015 8:29:25 PM

Under the fair use provisions of copyright law I've put together a compilation of just the Dodge City scenes from "3 Women" solely for the purpose of trying to locate the site of Dodge City. If you would like a copy of that to either verify this find, or to search for a better site, just let me know at RonsLog@rbgilbert.com and I will make it available to you.

That includes you, Marshall, since you haven't provided your email address.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 28, 2015 11:04:12 AM

As I'm doing this primarly from memory, #5, "the hut", might actually be wrong and directly across from what I labeled, on the other side of the lot. I don't have the time to cross-reference w/ the movie right now for exact accuracy, but I'm sure that someone could check it out if desired, and also probably clarify a few of the mystery buildings that I couldn't recall.

Pretty neat to see such a relatively quick and strong response to this...thanks again!

Posted by: Marshall at Jan 26, 2015 11:27:07 PM

Hi again. To the best of my knowledge:

http://i.imgur.com/ZPoVxDt.png (I'm not sure how to directly link it; please copy-and-paste)

1) Dodge City parking lot
2) cantina
3) swimming Pool
4) distinctive, "tripod-shaped" sidewalk (later to have Bodhi WInd artwork)
5) small brown hut visible in some scenes
6) Willie's house

Thanks again for all of your research that allowed me to be able to do mine in the first place!

Posted by: Marshall at Jan 26, 2015 11:21:43 PM

Doh! Way to go Marshall!

Posted by: Jeff at Jan 26, 2015 5:14:06 PM

I didn't do the research, Marshall did.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 26, 2015 3:47:23 PM

GREAT research! But then you are the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society Historian!

Posted by: Jeff at Jan 26, 2015 3:22:31 PM

That's certainly the most promising evidence of its location that I've seen yet, but "clear as day" is a bit of a strong description. There are shapes that are not inconsistent with what can be seen in the movie.

Here's a screen grab of what you can see.

Here's how it looks in Google's satellite view today.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jan 26, 2015 1:56:18 PM

Well, I finally and absolutely "located" the exact location of the former site of the Dodge City set. It was in Thousand Palms, on Ramon, immediately west of (just before) Shadow Mountain Lane. I've been looking for awhile, but it was just recently that I the historicaerials.com website uploaded a 1972 aerial survey of Thousand Palms to compare; there's no way to link it exactly, but if you go to that site and search "shadow mountain lane and ramon road, thousand palms, ca", it's all there clear as day, and you can dissolve a 2005 survey for comparison. It's all covered in concrete and is a part of some kind of nursery. If you use views from 2002 or the '90s, it wasn't paved over at that point but was an empty lot. The remaining question for me is if the swimming pool with all of the Bodhi Wind murals was completely torn out at some point, or was just buried as many derelict pools are and remains preserved today.

Posted by: Marshall at Jan 26, 2015 12:41:23 PM

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