Star Trek: The Original Series ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1969. Despite becoming a hugely successful franchise, the original series was not a big hit.
The first pilot episode, titled “The Cage” was much different from the show we are familiar with. The Captain was Christopher Pike, and the first officer was a woman. One character that did survive the changes was Spock, who would go on to be the character most closely associated with the franchise. The studio ordered some changes, brought in William Shatner as Captain Kirk, and produced a second pilot. It was this pilot that convinced NBC to give the show a chance, and brought it to television. The show was almost canceled but a write-in campaign by fans convinced NBC to renew the show. However NBC finally canceled the series after the third season.
The original pilots were filmed at Desilu’s Studios in Culver City, but once the show was picked up, production moved to Desilu’s production facility in Hollywood. Today, that facility is part of Paramount Studios. The show also filmed at several Los Angeles locations throughout the three seasons.
Star Trek was filmed on Desilu’s Stages 9 and 10 . Once Desilu merged with Paramount, it’s facilities and stages were amalgamated with Paramount’s studio next door. Stages 9 and 10 are now Paramount Stages 31 and 32.
During Star Trek’s second season, Desilu’s merger with Paramount gave the production access to the backlot facilities. The show used the New York Streets numerous times. If you take a Paramount Studios Tour, you’ll be able to see some of these backlot sets.
The production also used Paramount’s water tank for scenes in the episode “A Private Little War”. The tank held the village set. This tank was also used for the Klingon Bird of Prey crash scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Although not a filming location, the studio’s front lot also has a building where Gene Roddenberry and the staff used to have offices. It was here where many Star Trek episodes were written.
Vasquez Rocks, near Santa Clarita, was used several times due to it’s resemblance to alien planets. While it ended up appearing in four episodes, it’s most closely associated with Captain Kirk’s battle with the Gorn. It would go on to appear many times throughout the Star Trek franchise.
Golden Oak Ranch
Scenes from the episode “This Side of Paradise” were filmed at Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch, also near Santa Clarita. This ranch is notoriously private and not open to the public.
The Star Trek Set Tour
While the original sets were discarded after the show was canceled, there is a museum located in Ticonderoga, New York that holds very faithful recreations. You can read lots more details about the museum and my visit here.
The Original Enterprise Model
The original model of the USS Enterprise used for filming is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington.