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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Iverson's Western street: The northern end of town ... and the demise of Smooth Hill


"The Hills of Utah" (1951) — Iverson Village looking north

I recently posted photos of the southern end of Iverson Village (you can click here to see that post), and this is what the rest of the town looked like. The shot above is from the Gene Autry B-Western "The Hills of Utah." Note the stone buildings on both sides of the street — the Saloon on the left and the Livery Stable on the right. Most Western movie towns were made of wood, so the buildings' stone appearance helps distinguish Iverson Village.

A number of the town's main structures are identified in this version of the shot, along with Smooth Hill, a landmark that sat just north of the town. The consensus for years among film historians was that the main street was oriented more or less north and south, although comparing the positions of Gumdrop and Church Rock, the marker rocks at the southern end of town seen in the earlier post, gave rise to the idea that the street would have had to be positioned at an angle, leaning a bit southwest to northeast.

Aerial photo of Sheep Flats, 1952

This idea was confirmed after the above aerial photo surfaced from 1952, when the Western town was still in place. The town was located on a sprawling flat area known as Sheep Flats, which is now occupied by the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

"Check Your Guns" (1948) — Smooth Hill (before Casa Grande was built)

I searched at Iverson Ranch for months for the hill at the north end of town, which I began calling Smooth Hill. It eventually became apparent, even though I had a hard time believing it at first, that the hill was gone. It turns out the thing was basically leveled when the 118 freeway went through in the 1960s. Chunks along the southern edge of the hill were blown away to put the freeway through, and while they were at it they lopped off the top of it.

The former site of Smooth Hill as it appears today, now occupied by apartments and condos

The destruction of Smooth Hill cleared the way for what is now a batch of condos and a couple of large apartment buildings sitting on that spot, overlooking the freeway just above the Topanga interchange.

"Rocky Mountain Rangers" (1940) — Smooth Hill, before the town was built

Smooth Hill was a presence in movies even before the Western street was built, as in the above example from Republic's Three Mesquiteers Western "Rocky Mountain Rangers." Not only was the hill a key marker identifying Iverson Village in the old movies, but it was also kind of famous in its own right — and its loss is felt.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

This shot from the Columbia Western "Calamity Jane and the Texan" shows more of the eastern side of the street, and provides a look at Oat Mountain to the north — the series of hills with streaks of white, in the background. One of the markers on Oat Mountain, the Triangle Brand, is also visible, at the top of the photo, toward the left, partially hidden behind a small hill (Notch Hill).

Here's the same screen shot with some of the key features highlighted. The town set is also called El Paso Street, after its role in the 1949 movie "El Paso." Once again, for a look at the southern end of the Western street, please click here.

No comments: