Work crews fill the Willow Creek canyon above Creede on Friday, June 1, 2012 putting the finishing touches on a set that’s expected to host filming
Work crews fill the Willow Creek canyon above Creede on Friday, June 1, 2012 putting the finishing touches on a set that's expected to host filming for Disney's The Lone Ranger' this week. (Matt Hildner, The Pueblo Chieftain/AP)

CREEDE, Colo.- The narrow canyon north of the town of Creede that was once home to thousands of men looking for the next big silver strike still has plenty of hustle and bustle.

But more than a century later, the hundreds of carpenters, craftsmen and other workers who've labored beneath the towering rock walls are looking to help Walt Disney Studios and "The Lone Ranger" strike it rich on the silver screen.

After 11 weeks of set construction, the film's cast, which includes Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and others, was to begin shooting here this week.

But curiosity seekers won't have much of a chance to see any of the big names.

"The likelihood of seeing anything other than a passing vehicle is pretty unlikely," Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said.

These undated handout images provided by the U.S. Postal Service shows a 2009 postage stamps honoring the "The Lone Ranger" television show. (AP
These undated handout images provided by the U.S. Postal Service shows a 2009 postage stamps honoring the "The Lone Ranger" television show. (AP Photo/USPS) (Anonymous)

Disney and the film's production company have hired security and secured a permit to close the only road going into the canyon. "It's a safety thing," Hosselkus said. "We're trying to keep people from going around and climbing on the cliffs." Officials with Rio Grande National Forest have followed suit and closed off a trail leading to an overlook above the canyon.

"We're just concerned we're going to get people out there that would be unsafe," Mike Blakeman, a public affairs officer for the forest, said.

Private guards set up at the mouth of the canyon limit entry to those involved with the film.

Actors are also expected to have their own guards when they arrive on set.

So far, Hosselkus said there have been few problems.

"But I don't know what kind of people follow these movies," he said.

The town of Creede, which normally swells with summer vacationers and tourists beyond the year-round population of roughly 300 residents, is still open for business.

And an agreement between the town and the movie's production company calls for shooting to end before the Fourth of July, the town's busiest time of year.

But until then, visitors and residents alike may find parking a little hectic, Hosselkus said, even though film crews and extras will be riding shuttles through town to the site.

"They are helping in that respect," he said.

The $210 million movie directed by Gore Verbinski is expected to shift away from the traditional tale of the Lone Ranger and tell the story through Depp's portrayal of Tonto, the movie's producer told The Los Angeles Times in March.

Crews started filming "The Lone Ranger" in New Mexico that same month, shot scenes in Utah's Monument Valley, and are expected to film around Moab, Utah, in addition to working in Creede.

The movie's 2013 opening in theaters has been moved back from Memorial Day weekend to the Fourth of July weekend, Disney officials announced.