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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lone Ranger's bushwackers lying in wait at the Phantom

Here's a screen shot from one of the most important scenes in the TV show "The Lone Ranger," shot in 1949. This famous ambush sequence is also seen in the 1952 film version, which was a re-edited version of the first three episodes of the show. It took a while to figure out where this scene was shot. The smaller rock at the top is an obvious clue, but a lot of rocks at Iverson have similar "pebbletops" — including one rock called Pebblehead, located not far from this one. After several months I finally put the pieces together and realized that this rock is the Phantom, which you can get a better look at here. It's in Garden of the Gods on the Lower Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.

Glenn Strange as Cavendish — behind him is the rock the Phantom, in Garden of the Gods

These shots of the bad guys lying in wait are part of the infamous sequence that sets up the whole saga of the Lone Ranger, in which bushwhackers led by Glenn Strange's character Cavendish wipe out a party of Rangers in a brutal ambush — including almost killing the man who would go on to become the Lone Ranger. The sequence is spliced together from footage shot here in Garden of the Gods and footage filmed elsewhere in L.A., in Bronson Canyon, where the cave featured in the Batman TV show also plays a part in the Lone Ranger saga.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stone Cabin on the Upper Iverson

Here's a screen shot from Prairie Outlaws (1948) that offers a look at the stone cabin that appeared for a while on the South Rim of the Upper Iverson.

The cabin is usually called "Hidden Valley Cabin" or simply "Stone Cabin." The distinctive rock towering above the cabin can still be found at the site. Although the cabin itself is long gone, here's a shot of the rock from a recent visit, showing some of the mansions that now occupy much of what used to be the Upper Iverson Movie Ranch.

I've been calling that rock Stone Cabin Rock, obviously in honor of the cabin seen above, and the fact that the unmistakable rock so clearly marks the spot where the cabin stood.

Also visible in both of the above photos, in the distance, is Oat Mountain, and in the recent shot can be seen microwave towers and related gear at the top of it, in the righthand corner. (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it to get a good look.) Back in the 1960s it was a missile base up there, part of the national defense system. I don't know whether it's still up there and I'm not about to ask. I do know if you try to drive there you soon encounter signs indicating military property, and they make it clear they don't want you up there.
Prairie Outlaws, made by Producers Releasing Corp., is an interesting movie. It was an edited version of a movie the company made two years earlier, Wild West, with additional footage shot for the new movie even though the new movie was shorter. The earlier production, Wild West, was out of character for a B-movie studio: It was in color, for one thing, and at 73 minutes, longer than typical B-movie fare. It also had two cowboy stars instead of the usual one, featuring both Eddie Dean and Lash LaRue. And it had a dual love story AND a story about a heroic young boy.

When PRC reinvented the movie two years later as Prairie Outlaws, the company was clearly targeting the Saturday matinee market, especially young boys. Much of the "mushy stuff" was cut out, but the plotline about the heroic kid was left in. Even with the movie shortened now to about 56 minutes, a batch of new footage was added — mostly action — at the opening of the movie. The number of songs was cut back, and this time the movie was released in black and white.

The original movie, Wild West, was shot entirely at Corriganville. But in the two years that had passed before Prairie Outlaws was pieced together, PRC had shifted its focus to Iverson, and that's where the new footage was filmed — including a big shootout at the stone cabin.

Some researchers have said the Gorge Cabin was taken apart and reassembled on the Upper Iverson. If that's the case, the stone cabin seen here is almost certainly that cabin. The move would have taken place in 1944, as that's when the Gorge Cabin disappears from film footage showing the Upper Gorge (which is on the Lower Iverson). I haven't seen images of either cabin that are clear enough to be sure one way or the other, but so far, I would have to say I still need some convincing. The chimney is wrong, for one thing — not that these things don't move around, but it's an indication. Still, I have to admit the two cabins are pretty similar.