Happy Bottom Riding Club

34.865, -117.966 (West of Edwards AFB, CA)

Barnes_CA_annotated

The Happy Bottom Riding Club was a dude ranch, restaurant, and hotel operated by aviatrix Pancho Barnes near Edwards Air Force Base in the Antelope Valley of California’s Mojave Desert. Barnes and the club were both featured in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, The Right Stuff, and the 1983 film adaptation.

Also known as the Rancho Oro Verde Fly-Inn Dude Ranch, the establishment was a favored hangout for both test pilots and the Hollywood elite during the 1940s, boasting over 9,000 members worldwide at the height of its popularity. When the United States Air Force intended to buy the club via eminent domain in order to extend their runways, a long and contentious series of lawsuits ensued. Barnes eventually won the lawsuits, but after the club was destroyed by fire in the 1950s, her plans to re-open in a nearby location never came to fruition.

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