Where was Petticoat Junction filmed?
Los Angeles, Hollywood, Pixley, CA; Missouri
Naturescapes, Hotels/Motels, Studios
About Petticoat Junction
CBS aired seven seasons of Petticoat Junction from 1963 to 1970. The sitcom is set against the backdrop of the Shady Rest Hotel, and it revolves around the establishment’s proprietor, Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet), and her three daughters.
Alongside daughters Betty Jo (Pat Woodell and later Lori Saunders), Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley and later Gunilla Hutton), and Bobbie Jo (Linda Kaye Henning), Bradley’s uncle Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan) is also a series regular.
Paul Henning conceptualized the sitcom as one of three interrelated rural/urban-themed productions. The first was the riveting ‘60s/early ‘70s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. Following the success of Petticoat Junction, Henning also worked on the show’s spin-off Green Acres.
The sitcom follows the inner workings of the Shady Rest Hotel helmed by a widowed Bradley. Uncle Joe is a lovable yet lazy presence in her life, and he assists with the day-to-day running of the business. In the midst of it, Bradley parents her three daughters while mediating their everyday issues.
Besides lounging on the porch chair, Uncle Joe’s favorite pastime is coming up with hare-brained get-rich-quick ideas. He is also the master of conceiving absurd, and often hilarious, hotel promotions. The earlier seasons mostly centered on the Hooterville Cannonball, which was inspired by the 1890s steam-driven train that operated as a cab service.
Whether it involved Bradley’s fruit picking runs or taking the crew on impromptu fishing trips; the single-tracked Hooterville created an impression in the series. In later seasons, the locomotive’s engineer Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and railway conductor/fireman Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis) depicted retired railroad pensioners.
Homer Bedloe, a railroad executive, also features in several of the show’s episodes. His storyline centers on his futile attempts to halt the Hooterville Cannoball’s operations. Betty Jo, who is a tomboy by nature, is often depicted running the steam train and she also has an interest in mechanics.
Petticoat Junction Locations
A real-life hotel, its antics, and colorful guests inspired the characters of Petticoat Junction. The Shady Rest Hotel is modeled after the Missouri-based Burris Hotel. Hearing the tales about the Burris from Alice Burris, his mother-in-law, Henning used the stories as inspiration for the series.
Burris grew up with folks who were innkeepers, and she recounted the memories in detail about the wild and peculiar visitors who frequented her parents' hotel. Based on what she shared, Henning conceived the popular TV series.
Through the years, the sitcom has inspired the name of several businesses. In Woodstock, New York, a hamlet going by The Shady Rest Townhouse has been in business since 1969. J.T and Claudia Peavine converted an old train depot in 1965 into their own Shady Rest haven.
They operated The Petticoat Junction Cafeteria and Shady Rest Hotel in Mabank, Texas. In the ‘70s, the business relocated one mile from its former location and stayed in operation until 1996. There’s plenty more to unpack about the sitcom, and here is a rundown of some of the best film shoot scenes and filming locations in Petticoat Junction.
The Hooterville Cannonball is screen famous, and it’s the very same locomotive that appeared in Back to the Future III. The Sierra No.3 had its screen debut in Westerns before working its way into the ‘90s time-traveling flick.
Bedloe plans to halt the Hooterville Cannoball’s operation scene in Petticoat Junction
In the series premiere episode, we get acquainted with Bradley and her family as well as the Shady Rest Hotel. If you ever wondered why all her daughters have a “Jo” in their name, Uncle Joe put it to rest by explaining that “the "Jo" on their names is in honor of me. Kate was hoping to name one of them just plain "Joe," but they didn't turn out right.”
The Victorian Style relies on the Cannonball steam train for access, as well as a fire road that is poorly maintained. The cozy establishment offers family-style dining gatherings for its guests. Bradley prepares sumptuous meals for the visitors on a wood-burning stove. Her business hangs on a thread after Bedloe arrives in town.
Sent by the president of the C. & F.W. Railroad, his mission is to figure out why an isolated line, that runs from Hooterville to Pixley, is cut off from the main railway line. It’s the line that carries the Cannonball and essentially serves as a lifeline for the Shady Rest Hotel.
The Sierra No.3, better known as the “Movie Star locomotive,” provided the setting for the Hooterville Cannonball scenes. The star steam train also features in“High Noon, Bad Girls, and Green Acres.
The Petticoat Junction film set is now under the ownership of the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. After going out of commission in 1995, the train underwent repairs in 2001 and again in 2011. Head to S 5th Avenue to see the site.
Opening credits scene in Petticoat Junction
Tuolumne County, California
The opening credits stand out because they feature the Sierra No.3 chugging along a scenic route. The steam-powered locomotive makes its way along the tracks, loaded to the brim with logs of timber before the scene cuts to some clothes hanging on a wooden fence.
Bradley, her daughters, and their beloved pooch pop up behind the fence. They each disappear sequentially after pulling an article of clothing from the fence. The music also tells us what the show is about, and as the shot cuts to the Shady Rest, we see Uncle Joe passed out on the porch chair. The lyrics explain, “That’s Uncle Joe, he’s a moving kind of slow at the Junction.”
Tuolumne County in California provided a setting for the locomotive scene in the opening credits. It’s where you’ll find the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which is currently the home to Sierra No. 3.
Visit the Petticoat Junction filming location to enjoy a trip aboard one of their excursion trains. The Polar Express Train Ride allows you to enjoy a magical hour-long journey to the North Pole while the Robbery on the Rails ride is self-explanatory.
Dog inherits $200 scene in Petticoat Junction
General Service Studios, Los Angeles
The third season features an episode where the family’s pet gets a windfall. In the episode titled “The Dog Turns Playboy,” lawyer Arthus Bronson (William Lanteau) turns up at the Shady Rest and tells the family that a former guest left their four-legged friend a tidy sum.
Dog lets his newfound fortune get to his head by splurging on his friends. He soon learns a lesson about how fame and wealth can be temporary. The situation brings to mind Uncle Joe’s famous words, borrowed from author Mata Amritanandamayi, “Happiness is within everyone, but we are not able to experience it because of our ego's likes and dislikes.”
Formerly known as the General Service Studios, the Sunset Las Palmas Studios housed some of the Petticoat Junction film sets. Found at 1040 N. Las Palmas, the studios date back to the 1930s.
Several other productions have made use of the filming location like The Adventures of Ozzie, I Love Lucy, and The Beverly Hillbillies. The Studios are minutes away from the Santa Monica / Highland Layover, Santa Monica / Highland, and the Fountain & Las Palmas Ave. bus stations.
Kate’s homecoming scene in Petticoat Junction
The fifth episode of the sitcom features an episode titled “Kate’s Homecoming.” The citizens of Hooterville go out of their way to give Bradley a presidential welcome. They plan a parade complete with fireworks, a float, and songs.
In true sitcom fashion, arguments soon reign with disagreements about where the celebration should take place. Mayor Potts (William Mims) volunteers to preside over the welcoming celebration if the town hosts it at his preferred location. Sam Ducker (Frank Cady) suggests they hold the shindig at his store while Selma Plout (Kate Grounds) offers her garden to the gathering.
They eventually settle on Sam’s store in Pixley, but Uncle Joe doesn’t pass the message as intended. Amid the chaos, the fireworks spark a fire at the Pixley depot. Uncle Joe’s words, “I’ve always been worried about the one weak link in the fire department,” come back to bite him in that episode.
Pixley is one of Cannonball's destinations, and the location borrows its name from Pixley, California. It’s a regular pit stop for Bradley and her family who make regular runs to Ducker’s Store.
The real-life location served as the setting for several Petticoat Junction scenes. The census-designated place (CDP) is in Tulare County. If you find yourself in Pixley, drop by the Best Truck Stop for a bite.
Betty Jo gives birth scene in Petticoat Junction
The season six episode titled “The Valley Has a Baby” sees Betty Jo welcome Hooterville’s youngest member. She moves back to town when Steve Elliott (Mike Manor) suggests that it’s a great idea to welcome their baby there.
Betty Jo tries to delay giving birth until her sisters, who are out of town, return. She goes into labor, and when they can’t wake up Wendell, she operates the Cannonball herself. Her sisters make it back in time as well as Bradley, who is said to have been away “taking care of Aunt Ruth.”
While the show never really establishes the location of Hooterville or the Shady Rest, it’s explained that the hotel rests at the midpoint between Pixley and Hooterville. Through the years, fan theorists have agreed that it wouldn’t be surprising if the filming location was somewhere in Missouri.
That is based on the fact that Burris grew up in Missouri where her folks owned the Inn that inspired the sitcom. However, given the 30-hour distance from Missouri to Tuolumne County, which was the setting for most of the Petticoat Junction scenes, it’s highly unlikely that the show was filmed there.
Still, Southwest Missouri deserves an honorable mention because it essentially inspired the show. The Burris Hotel was once known as the Rock Island Hotel, because of its proximity to the Rock Island railroad, and sadly it was torn down. If you are ever in town, visit the Rock Island Railroad Street Trailhead at 6515 Railroad St, Raytown for the scenic view.
Uncle Joe wins a raffle scene in Petticoat Junction
Stage 5, Hollywood Center Studios
The season two episode titled “The Baffling Raffle” is one of many crossovers between Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. Oliver Wendell and Lisa Douglass from the latter show drop by the Shady Rest, ahead of moving into the farmhouse they recently purchased.
Upon finding out that Oliver is a lawyer, Uncle Joe tries to solicit his services to get him out of jury duty. He runs with Oliver’s advice and convinces Bradley to take his place, only that the suitcase Bradley takes with her to Pixley contains a ticket that Uncle Joe needs to claim a TV set he won in a raffle.
His efforts fall flat when he tries to get word to Bradley about it, and even when she returns home in time, something else prevents him from getting his hands on the prize.
Stage 5, found within the Hollywood Center Studios (now known as the Sunset Palmas Studios), also hosted both the Petticoat Junction and Green Acres production units. Established in 1919, the lot features 12 stages and it’s one of Hollywood’s oldest production facilities.
Like other great shows, the sitcom is worth binging if only to identify other real-life Petticoat Junction filming locations. The Petticoat Junction Amusement Park once allowed fans to relive the magic created by the sitcom.
Located in Panama City Beach, Florida, the Amusement Park opened its doors in 1963 and closed in 1984. Fred H. Hallmarkbought bought the park’s train cars and locomotives. They are preserved in his family’s residence in Kimberly, Alabama, at 9485 US-31.