Cowtown was originally planned as an entertainment venue, where Hollywood stuntman Ron Nix built an authentic looking western village in the 1960s and 1970s. The village was comprised of small storefronts that housed food, beverage, and souvenir shops and was well suited for movie making as well as cowboy fast-draw shooting competitions.
The area surrounding Cowtown was very remote when Ron Nix began construction on the western village, and it remains nearly unchanged since that time. The remoteness of Cowtown is one of the most appealing aspects to folks that visit and shoot at the facility. The remoteness and beauty of this area was immortalized in the Gordon Lightfoot song “Carefree Highway” written and recorded by him in 1974 after seeing the highway sign while out on a drive. Cowtown sits at the end of the original Carefree Highway and epitomizes Mr. Lightfoot’s sentiments in the song…”Carefree Highway, let me slip away on you…”
Carefree Highway was, at one time, a stagecoach route between Phoenix and Wickenburg and occasionally a visitor or two will come to the gate at Cowtown, under the impression that the road still exists, and ask why they can’t continue on through the desert and low hills and take the scenic route to Wickenburg.
Dewayne Foster, the unofficial “Sheriff of Cowtown”, has been on and off the premises for more than 30 years. During Cowtown’s history Foster, who also goes by the name “Latigo Smith,” appeared in several movies with some being filmed at Cowtown.
Before it became what it is today, Cowtown was host to over 200 movies filmed on site and it’s still occasionally called upon by Hollywood celebs such as “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey for movie and television filming. But today, Cowtown Range’s unique terrain is what draws defense training specialists to the site, making it one of the most unique shooting and training facilities in the country.