I discovered it in summer 2008 and have been hooked on it ever since — the rugged landscape in Chatsworth, Calif., that marks the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch.
With its striking sandstone rock formations, this remote corner of the San Fernando Valley on the outskirts of Los Angeles was an important hub of the movie business from the earliest days of Hollywood well into the 1960s, gaining a reputation as the most widely filmed outdoor location in the world.
An ideal setting for Westerns, the 500-acre Iverson Movie Ranch also found its calling in science-fiction movies, war epics and tales of distant lands such as Africa, India and the Middle East.
An estimated 3,500 films and TV episodes were filmed on the site, dating back to the 1910s.
on Cooper's newly minted Iverson Western street
Gary Cooper was a frequent visitor to the Iverson Ranch and built a Western town on the site for the 1945 RKO Western "Along Came Jones," the only movie Cooper produced himself.
filmed in the Iverson Gorge
Cooper's "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" was among the major war movies filmed on the Iverson Ranch, along with John Wayne's "The Fighting Seabees" (1944) and Errol Flynn's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936).
Bob Hope, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges were among the comedy stars to film at Iverson. Pioneering stuntman Yakima Canutt perfected many of his trademark stagecoach stunts on Iverson's well-traveled chase roads, while superheroes including Superman and Batman donned their capes at the ranch.
at the Iverson Ranch's famed "Lone Ranger Rock"
Early TV Westerns such as "The Lone Ranger" and "The Cisco Kid" filmed regularly on the ranch, paving the way for the next generation of bigger, better TV productions — "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "The Virginian," "The Big Valley" and many others, all of which shot on the Iverson Ranch.
including Chatsworth's Stoney Point, from Iverson's Overlook Point
While a number of Iverson's distinctive and widely filmed movie rocks have been bulldozed or blown up to pave the way for progress, most have survived — even if in many cases they now lie forgotten in back yards, hidden behind locked gates or buried under a half-century of natural overgrowth.
On the screen or in person, Iverson's unique giant boulders have so much personality that they seem to be living creatures. The charismatic stone figures that populate this intriguing corner of the world have become almost like family to me.
I'm learning more about the Iverson Movie Ranch all the time, but it is a rich and complicated place, and one reason I love it is I know it holds mysteries I will never solve.
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Below are links to DVDs of just a few of the many movies filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch. Please support efforts to research and preserve the history of the Iverson Ranch by clicking on the links to shop for these DVDs on Amazon ...