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.
• 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 find other 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 go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• 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.
• If you know of a way I can set up this blog so readers can subscribe to receive future posts via email, please let me know. In the meantime there's a link all the way at the bottom of this page that says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)," and if you're inclined to try it, it seems to take you into a world of customizable home pages or something, and you can have blog updates as a part of that page ... whether this is useful to you, who knows, but I thought I'd let you know it's there.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave a comment on any post, or email me at

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Classic Rock: Devil's Doorway — a "ride-through arch" located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch, featured in countless old Western movies and early TV series

This blog post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — rocks located on the former site of the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that were featured in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

"Oh Susanna" (1936)

Devil's Doorway is what might be called a "ride-through arch" — a group of rocks forming an arch that a rider on horseback can fit through. It's one of a number of such structures on the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, but it was by far the most often filmed. It could often be seen in B-Westerns and early TV Western series as an entrance to an outlaws' hideout. The above shot from the Gene Autry movie "Oh Susanna" provides the view of Devil's Doorway as seen from the north.

This is what it looks like today from the north. Devil's Doorway is now surrounded by condos.

Here's Devil's Doorway from the south, again from "Oh Susanna." The rocky hilltop in the distance is Cactus Hill, which remains in place today.

This is the view of Devil's Doorway as it looks today from the south.

Below is a link to a DVD version of "Oh, Susanna" from Check it out.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Classic Rock of the Iverson Movie Ranch: The Wizard

The Wizard sits prominently atop the southeast corner of the Garden of the Gods, overlooking Iverson Gorge and the Santa Susana Pass. This rock can be spotted in a number of movies, but always as a tiny speck in the background. I think the Wizard is ready for his closeup. Mr. DeMille?

Here's a detail of the Wizard's face. It's not the best photo, but he's hard to shoot. In person, in the right light, he's spectacular.
This post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that became a part of not only America's physical landscape but also its cultural heritage, through featured roles in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Classic Rock: The Cul de Sac Crew

"The Golden Stallion" (1949)

The above shot is taken from the Roy Rogers movie "The Golden Stallion," in which the plot revolves around Roy's beloved horse Trigger being accused of killing a guy. Besides a really sweet woodie, the shot features part of the Cul de Sac Crew, a rock feature on the former Upper Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. That tall, sort of triangular-shaped rock in the middle of the picture is the defining "character" of the crew.

 "The Adventures of Kit Carson": episode "The Baron of Black Springs"

The above screen shot comes from the TV show "The Adventures of Kit Carson," which aired from 1951-1955. This shot isn't the greatest picture quality, but the photo shows more of the Cul de Sac Crew. You may be able to match up that triangular rock, which appears in both of the above two shots. The rock feature's name is derived from its current situation, as it's now located on a cul de sac amid the estates that occupy much of what was once the Upper Iverson. The episode "The Baron of Black Springs" premiered Aug. 9, 1952, early in the second season of "Kit Carson."

Here's a look at the Cul de Sac Crew today, taken from about the same angle, from the middle of the cul de sac itself.

Another view of the Cul de Sac Crew in recent times. That's poison oak at its most virulent in the bottom left corner, with some of the leaves having turned red.

This post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that became a part of not only America's physical landscape but also its cultural heritage, through featured roles in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Hi-Yo, Silver!" — was the famous opening sequence to the TV show "The Lone Ranger" colorized?

Shot from the opening sequence to "The Lone Ranger" — this color version is from 1956

EDITOR'S NOTE: Had I known then what I know now, I could have done a better job on this post. The good news is I've since done a fully updated and much more thoroughly researched post about the evolution of the opening sequence for "The Lone Ranger," and you can go to it by clicking here. Meanwhile, I'm leaving up this older post with a few minor tweaks, as it still tells a part of the story and has some historical merit. Note that this post is all about the 1956 reshoot of the opening. For details on the original 1949 opening, click on the link in this paragraph.

Here are some shots of the well-known "Lone Ranger" opening sequence, usually seen in black and white. The color version of the opening ran with the later color episodes of the TV show, Season 5, which aired from 1956-57. I originally posted that my hunch was that they just colorized the original opening sequence, which dates back to 1949. If so, it would have been a pretty nice job of colorization and a fairly early example. They did have the technology as far back as the 1920s, and I know they colorized some cartoons in the 1950s. But that's different, and this color version of the Lone Ranger opening looks pretty good. So it was a bit of a mystery to me, until a reader named Richard explained that the original opening was replaced by a new color opening for the color season, and that color opening was then "de-colorized" back to black-and-white for DVDs of the black-and-white episodes. Mystery solved.

"The Lone Ranger" title shot — in color

Conventional wisdom held for years that the first part of the opening wasn't shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch but at the neighboring Brandeis Ranch, also in Chatsworth, Calif. However, as is often the case, conventional wisdom turns out to be wrong. That's Pyramid Peak (aka Rocky Peak) in the background, a familiar background feature also seen in plenty of Iverson scenes. Brandeis and Iverson were right next to each other, so it can be hard to distinguish them on screen. One useful clue — albeit not a scientific one — is that Iverson was used a lot more than Brandeis, so when you're seeing this scenery, there's a better chance that it's Iverson. However, the Line of Trees seen in the background here — they look like pines, but I'm no expert — represented the boundary between Iverson and Brandeis, which would place the action shown here on the eastern side of the Line of Trees — the Iverson side.

Here's the "de-colorized" black-and-white title shot. The fact that it's crooked has to do with my camera work; it didn't run that way on TV.

The action shifts from the Upper Iverson to the Lower Iverson for this part of the opening. This shot shows the approach to Lone Ranger Rock on the Lower Iverson, and the rocks in the distant background are a familiar grouping just above the Upper Iverson Gorge: Sticky Bun (partially visible near the top, sticking out from the tree on the left), along with Cracked Meringue (directly above the Lone Ranger's head) and Stegosaurus (above Silver's nose). In the foreground, at the right, is the elusive Sea Leopard. You can find more information about most of these rocks elsewhere in the blog — try the massive alphabetical index along the right side of the page.

Here's a look at the rock cluster consisting mainly of Sticky Bun, Cracked Meringue and Stegosaurus today, hidden behind the condos. Sticky Bun is the one shaped like a sticky bun, kind of obviously. To its right, looking nondescript here, is Cracked Meringue, which angles downward from left to right. Below the two of them, largely hidden behind the condo building, is the larger Stegosaurus, which also looks nondescript here due to the presence of the condos. All three of these rocks are also visible in the Lone Ranger approach shot, above. Also in this recent shot is Lone Ranger Rock itself, almost directly in the center of the photo.

Here's the familiar shot of the Lone Ranger on Silver, rearing up next to Lone Ranger Rock. The rock can still easily be found at the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, just off Redmesa Road in Chatsworth.

This is what the rearing-up scene looks like in its familiar black-and-white version. I posted a brief video of the "Lone Ranger" opening in an early blog entry that can still be found here, but what I would now recommend is that you go to a much more thoroughly researched post about the "Lone Ranger" opening sequence, with video clips of five or six different versions of the opening and a full explanation of how it evolved, which you can find by clicking here.

Check out a cool "Lone Ranger" DVD set on Amazon by clicking the link below:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Here's a one-minute Roy Rogers video filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch

This is a video someone posted on YouTube of Roy Rogers singing "It's Home Sweet Home to Me." Sorry, the picture quality isn't very good. But the background for the shot is the Upper Iverson in Chatsworth, Calif.