When silent film actors Clara Bow (aka “The It Girl”) and Rex Bell got married in 1931, they desperately needed an escape from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. Searchlight, Nevada yielded the perfect landscape, an uninhabited desert far away from the glitz and glamour, where the couple could, at long last, live in complete solitude.
Rex and Clara’s escape was a Spanish Colonial style ranch complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a cactus garden on a 400,000 acre plot of arid land, located just a short ride away from the Nipton stop of the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. The ranch was named the “Walking Box Ranch” in reference to the Hollywood box cameras – nicknamed “walking box cameras” – that followed the Bells throughout their star-studded acting careers. In fact, the image of a box camera mounted on a tripod remains the ranch’s logo to this day.
Over the years, the Walking Box Ranch grew to be one of the most well-known celebrity homes in all of Nevada. During the 1930s and 40s, Rex and Clara regularly invited many of their Hollywood friends for a relaxing get-together at the ranch, including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Errol Flynn. Not only was the ranch a movie star getaway, but it also operated as a functioning cattle ranch until the 1980s. The old barn, livestock corrals, and water troughs remain standing at the ranch today.
Now, long after the death of Rex and Clara, the Walking Box Ranch remains in its original form and is now listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Now run by the Bureau of Land Management and offering guided tours, everyone is invited to visit the formerly secluded getaway .~Mignon