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The Madera Tribune

Hollywood or hills of Madera: one girl’s dilemma

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webmaster | 04/26/13

In 1938, movie star Barton MacLane was introduced to the beauty of the foothills of Madera County while visiting a friend here. Being something of a cowboy at heart, and being taken with what he saw, he bought 2,000 acres above what is now Hensley Lake along Road 400 and called it the Double Rainbow Ranch.

In a short span of time, he built a home on the ranch where he and his wife Charlotte and daughter Shirley lived when they weren’t making movies in Hollywood. He hired the previous owner, George Shannon, to run the Double Rainbow for him while he was gone.

MacLane learned a lot about life in the Madera County foothills from Shannon, and one of the first lessons had to do with rattlesnakes. When MacLane indicated concern over their presence on the ranch, he was told to just get a flock of turkeys and let them take care of the snakes. The turkeys could be counted on to surround a rattler in a big circle and start such a commotion that someone would come running and kill it.

Pigs could also be counted on to kill rattlesnakes. The common wisdom in the hills was to let the pigs loose, and they would waltz right up to a snake and stomp it to death. They would then eat it. Since pig fat had no blood vessels, the snake poison could do it no harm...


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