Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Domed building from the silent era in the Iverson Gorge, seen in "Noah's Ark" in 1928

"Noah's Ark" (1928) — the Iverson Gorge in Chatsworth, Calif.

A small structure that turns up briefly in the silent feature "Noah's Ark" can be placed in the Upper Gorge on the old Iverson Movie Ranch.

The landmark movie was produced and written by pioneer Hollywood studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Michael Curtiz. Everyone involved would become legendary.

"Noah's Ark" — image of the giant Ark grounded atop the Garden of the Gods

The movie is famous for this shot, which also utilizes rock features on the Iverson Ranch — except that here they're used as part of a special effect.

Rocks that remain in place today pinpoint the location of the domed building, which can be seen in the background at right.

The building is almost hidden behind foliage, carefully placed so as to complement the set.

"Noah's Ark": The domed building

The focus is soft on the print these scren shots came from, but at least the camera moves in for this shot of the building. This is about all we see of it.

"The King of Kings" (Cecil B. DeMille, 1927)

I recently spotted a similar building in DeMille's "The King of Kings," but this one appears to be near the beach — and it's not an exact match for the "Noah's Ark" set.

The "Noah's Ark" set (Joe Iverson collection) — circa 1928

An old Iverson family photo of the "Noah's Ark" set turned up in Joe Iverson's photos. Thanks to this shot we finally get a good look at the old silent movie set.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hey, wow! It's the Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle!

Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle

Someone surprised me this Christmas with a fun present: an Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle.

My first reaction was, "Wait a minute — how can this be?!!?" ... followed by: "Who has time to do jigsaw puzzles?" 

But I did find time, and by the time I had most of the "edge" pieces in place, I was hooked.

The puzzle contains an aerial view of a sizable patch of northwest Chatsworth, Calif., covering most of the Iverson Ranch along with neighboring terrain.

It's a familiar Google image that I go to all the time when I'm doing research.

Here the 118 Freeway, running horizontally across the center of the frame, begins to take shape. The white roofs near the center are the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

The red roofs above the mobile home park make up a condo community on the former site of the Middle Iverson Ranch Set and its surroundings, which were part of the Upper Iverson.

The freeway today divides the land in much the same way the ranch was divvied up back when it was the Upper Iverson above, run by Aaron Iverson, and the Lower Iverson below, run by his brother Joe.

To the left of the white roofs of the mobile home park are the lighter reddish roofs of the Cal West Townhomes, the sprawling condos that occupy the Upper Gorge and surround the Garden of the Gods.

Manmade structures are easier to line up than rocks and trees — making this probably the first time I've been glad the condos and other junk were there ... strictly from the standpoint of furthering the puzzle.

The puzzle turned out to be a blast to do — a challenge that took up the bulk of my spare time over a span of about three days ... while I also held down my day job.

At this point the section of estates in the top left corner — the former Upper Iverson and Brandeis Ranch — is almost complete.

Familiarity with the layout proved useful in doing the puzzle. At the same time, I couldn't help but enhance my understanding of the lay of the land.

A 400-piece puzzle might be a breeze to a "jigsaw master," which I am definitely not. But the image is incredibly detailed, and it took a commitment to put it together.

At one point it occurred to me that this individual puzzle might well be the first of its kind — the first Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle.

For me it was the most rewarding jigsaw puzzle I've ever attempted — and possibly the only one I've ever finished, at least since I was a kid.

My "Personalized Hometown Puzzle" came from an outfit called Map Marketing, which I'm told is easy to find online.

Thus far I've avoided going to the website, and couldn't tell you how much the puzzles cost. After all, it was a present.

Well, I was just getting started ... and whaddaya know, it's done.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Year in Review: Top 10 Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2016

"Code of the Secret Service" (1939): Iverson Gorge

Here's a Top 10 list counting down the best Iverson Movie Ranch discoveries of the past year ...


No. 10

Joe Iverson's incredible old tractor

 

Joe Iverson rides one of the greatest tractors ever

Joe Iverson, who ran all or part of the Iverson Movie Ranch for 60-plus years, had a lot of cool toys, and his vintage grader/crawler was one of the coolest.

Click here to see the original post about Joe's tractor, from July 2016.

No. 9

The Roy Rogers rock on top of Cactus Hill


"The Roy Rogers Show" (1952)

An episode of "The Roy Rogers Show" features an unusual rock, which was recently spotted at the east end of Cactus Hill — despite having changed its appearance over the years. The site also has a few things to say about the history of filming in that area.

Click here to see the original post about Roy's encounter with the rock on Cactus Hill, published in August 2016.

No. 8

The former location of the Hangman's Tree


The Hangman's Tree on the Lower Iverson (from "An Ambush of Ghosts")

While the Hangman's Tree itself did not survive, we were able to determine the exact location where it once stood — and we did find the nearby Hangman's Tree Rock.

• Click here to see the original post about the Hangman's Tree, published in October 2016.

No. 7

Where Jesus walked in Silverland 

 

"The Living Bible" (1952) — Jesus comes to the Iverson Movie Ranch

Jesus and two Lone Rangers — the original, from the 1930s Republic serials, and the more famous one from the 1950s TV series — all made their way to Silverland on the Lower Iverson. But the biggest Silverland find of 2016 may have been the discovery of an important saucer-shaped movie rock.

Saucer, left, and Mushroom Rock in "The Man From Colorado" (1948)

We took a "long, strange trip through Silverland" early in the year and were able to unlock a number of its mysteries by decoding clues contained in its few surviving rocks. One of the biggest surprises was the discovery that the widely filmed rock "Saucer" can still be found.

• Click here to revisit the adventures of Jesus and two Lone Rangers among the fascinating rocks of Silverland — along with the discovery that the Saucer has survived — from April 2016.

No. 6

An amazing Iverson Movie Ranch sequence in "Montana Moon," the first singing cowboy movie 

 

Johnny Mack Brown in "Montana Moon" (1930)

The era of talking in movies had just begun, and when "Montana Moon" came out in 1930, it launched the era of the singing cowboy. The movie includes a great sequence filmed along the western edge of Garden of the Gods overlooking Santa Susana Pass Road — not to mention one of the best buttressing shots ever filmed at Iverson.

• Click here to see the original post about the remarkable Iverson Movie Ranch sequence in "Montana Moon," from October 2016.

No. 5

Joe Iverson's butterfly collection, hunting trophies and other prize possessions are captured on film



Kelly Sullivan in "Death by Dialogue" (1988), with a few of Joe's butterflies

Joe Iverson's museum is on display in the movie "Death by Dialogue." The trophy room alone elevates this low-budget thriller into a unique artifact of movie history.

• Click here to see the original post about "Death by Dialogue" and Joe's vast collections, from June 2016.

No. 4

The "Muffin" rock behind the Grove Cabin has popped its muffin


"Bells of Rosarita" (1945): giant muffin-shaped rock behind cabin

A muffin-shaped rock once stood directly behind the little building known as the Grove Cabin. The rock is still there but it no longer looks like a muffin — and we found out why.

• Click here to see the original post about what became of the giant muffin, from earlier this month — December 2016.

No. 3

The "kill rock" from the Hopalong Cassidy movie "Mystery Man"


"Mystery Man" (1944): Hoppy's gun casts a shadow on the Kill Rock

The Kill Rock in the Hopalong Cassidy movie "Mystery Man" took multiple expeditions to find, encompassing both Lone Pine and the Iverson Ranch. Between me and Don Kelsen, we eventually found the thing hiding in plain sight.

• Click here to see the original post about the "Mystery Man" Kill Rock, from September 2016.

No. 2

A film shoot inside Karl and Augusta Iverson's house in 1935 


"The Outlaw Deputy" (1935) — the view from the Iversons' house on the hill

Film historian Tinsley E. Yarbrough spotted this scene filmed inside the home of Iverson Movie Ranch founders Karl and Augusta Iverson in the Western "The Outlaw Deputy." It may be the only time anyone filmed in the house on the hill.

 • Click here to see the original post about the 1935 shoot inside Karl and Augusta's house, from October 2016.

No. 1

The "grassy knoll" — a mystery from "Little Big Horn" that took 65 years to solve


"Little Big Horn" (1951): Sheb Wooley's sad fate on the grassy knoll

The location where Sheb Wooley's character met his grisly demise in the classic Western "Little Big Horn" has long perplexed movie historians — but a couple of us put our heads together early this year and, thanks to the sharp eye of veteran location researcher Eddie Henn, we finally solved the mystery.

• Click here to see the original post about the discovery of the "grassy knoll" of "Little Big Horn" infamy, from February 2016.


Here are a few finds from the past year that didn't quite make it into the Top 10 — click on the text to be linked to the original blog items ...

• The rediscovery of an old movie road on the north side of Cactus Hill

• Promo stills from the John Wayne movie "The Fighting Seabees" with surprising details hidden way in the background

• The crack where the Japanese sniper was stationed in "The Fighting Seabees"

• Some overlooked rock survivors found in the Iverson Gorge




To catch up on additional discoveries on the Iverson Movie Ranch in recent years, here are links to past "Year in Review" posts ...

Top Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2015


• Click here to review the major discoveries of 2015, when an Elvis Presley filming location, a fake cave house from the silent era, Burgess Meredith's "Siedry-Bert" inscription, a wonderland of old movie footholds and the location of the Chinese Bridge from the 1926 movie "Tell It to the Marines" all made the list.

Top Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2014


• Click here for a look back at 2014, a year in which Bear Tree, the Hobbit House, the remains of Freddie Frog, the Charles Bronson Hanging Tree and Tom Mix's bootholes from the 1935 Mascot serial "The Miracle Rider" were among the year's biggest discoveries.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

You know that little building in the Eucalyptus Grove — the one with the giant blueberry muffin behind it?

"Bells of Rosarita" (Roy Rogers, 1945) — Grove Cabin

If you're an aficionado of the Iverson Movie Ranch, you may already be familiar with the small building seen here, known as the Grove Cabin. And you may have noticed the muffin-shaped rock behind it.

"Bells of Rosarita"

The cabin stood for at least three decades on the Lower Iverson. Located in the Eucalyptus Grove, the small building was a common set used in movies and TV shows from the late 1930s into the 1960s.

Pear Rock, next to the Grove Cabin, in "Bells of Rosarita"

The cabin was positioned immediately west of Pear Rock, which looms in the background here as Roy and his compadres arrive for a good old-fashioned shootout at the cabin.

Pear Rock in recent years

Pear Rock is still around. In this recent shot, taken from close to the same angle seen in "Bells of Rosarita" (above), it's possible to match up some of the markings on the rock.

Specifically, notice the lighter surface area, curved mark and indented base area highlighted here.

The same features can be found in the "Bells of Rosarita" shot. The variation in the lighting for the two shots gets in the way, but other common markings can also be found if you're so inclined.

"Bells of Rosarita" — Pear Rock, left, and Grove Cabin

With Roy already in position behind a rock, Gabby Hayes and some other guy scramble to take cover. Pear Rock, on the left, continues its prominent role in the sequence.

Once again, there's the muffin-shaped rock just behind the cabin.

Also visible behind the cabin, below the Muffin Rock, was a more "normal"-shaped rock, with just the rounded top peeking out above the cabin.

Pear Rock, left, and the "normal" Grove Cabin locator rock, right (2016)

Today this "normal" rock can still be found at the site. While it's now partially concealed behind a small tree, this rock, seen here on the right, helps pinpoint the former location of the cabin.

Here's a closeup of the "locator rock" that was previously positioned directly behind the Grove Cabin.

The former Grove Cabin location in modern times

The approximate spot where the Grove Cabin once stood is noted here. Pear Rock appears in the left half of the frame, with the "normal-shaped rock" just above the dotted rectangle.

One feature that appears to be missing from the present-day setting is the Muffin Rock. While a taller rock can be seen behind the "normal" rock, the taller rock lacks the distinctive muffin shape.

The Grove Cabin site in 2016

Viewing the same setting from a slightly different angle, we get a better look at that taller rock — and learn what happened to the Muffin Rock.

The tall rock is in fact the Muffin Rock — but it has dropped its muffin. At some point over the years the rock's defining muffin top apparently decided to emancipate itself, which I'm guessing was an abrupt decision.

When the large chunk of the once top-heavy rock gave way, it left behind a flat, lighter-colored area of unweathered surface along the eastern face of the rock.

Unknown production, 1957: Grove Cabin and neighboring rocks

A behind-the-scenes shot from an unknown production filmed in 1957 offers another look at the Grove Cabin, the Muffin Rock and the "normal" rock.

Sign reads "Golden Luck Mine"

While the 1957 production is unknown, the sign on the Grove Cabin reads "Golden Luck Mine." Maybe a blog reader will recognize the reference and can help ID the movie or TV show in which it appears.

"Spy Smasher" (1942): early version of the Grove Cabin

An early Grove Cabin that did not yet have the building's distinctive roof in place can be seen in the 1942 Republic serial "Spy Smasher." This footage was recycled from an earlier shoot.

The familiar rock features are all to be found. The angle has shifted, altering the perception of distances between rocks.

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again" (Republic serial, released in 1939)

Footage of the Grove Cabin used by Republic in "Spy Smasher" was probably borrowed from the shoot for the studio's 1939 serial "The Lone Ranger Rides Again."

The Lone Ranger at Grove Cabin in "The Lone Ranger Rides Again"

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again," starring Robert Livingston as the Masked Man, was filmed in December 1938 and January 1939 for release on Feb. 25, 1939.

"Riders of the Badlands" (Columbia, 1941)

By 1941, the cabin's new roof was in place, as seen in the Charles Starrett B-Western "Riders of the Badlands," released Dec. 18, 1941.

Grove Cabin and Mine, circa 1950-1951 (Joe Iverson collection)

A family photo from the early '50s provides a clear view of the Muffin Rock in its original state. The man in the photo is believed to be Bill Boyd, Joe Iverson's brother-in-law. (He's not the same person as actor William Boyd, who played "Hopalong Cassidy.")

The photo shows a portion of the Grove Cabin, a wall that was in place at the time and a fake mine, along with a partial view of the Muffin Rock.

The remarkable clarity of the old family photo enables us to make out a "fault line" in the top section of the Muffin Rock.

The fault line matches the line where the piece broke loose.

"Annie Oakley" TV series (1954)

This photo of Gail Davis on the roof of the Grove Cabin, which ran in a recent post about the "Annie Oakley" TV show, again captures what I believe to be the "fault line."

The Muffin Rock's fault line?

This appears to be where the hairline crack runs through the "muffin top" area, predicting how the rock would fall apart years later. My guess is that the break happened in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

Muffin Rock and mine rock in 2016

A shot from a recent expedition into the Grove features not only the Muffin Rock, but also the low, angular rock that became a part of the fake mine.

The broken-off "muffin top" and real rock that was incorporated into the fake mine are noted here.

Taking another look at the old family photo, we can identify some key features that can be matched up with the recent photo.

The same features are highlighted here in the 2016 photo.

This shot identifies the approximate section of the rock that fell off.

The rocks in this area hold fast to their secrets. The former Grove Cabin site is on private property and opportunities to explore it are few, but I will continue to provide updates when anything new turns up.