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.
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• 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.
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• 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.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Scratch off another mystery: The Toucan has been found

One mystery that captured my imagination in the early days of my research into the Iverson Movie Ranch (before I even considered it "research") was this unusual rock seen in the background of the "Lone Ranger" movie:

"The Lone Ranger" (filmed in 1949)

To me it looked like a large beak, and I started calling it Toucan. I always suspected the appearance might be an optical illusion, and it turns out that it is.

Maybe you can see the resemblance to a real toucan.

Of course, this is the toucan that's familiar to most Americans.

"Range Beyond the Blue" (1947)

The Toucan eventually began turning up in a few other places, and each time I got clues that helped pinpoint its location. The above shot from the Eddie Dean B-Western "Range Beyond the Blue" helped establish it as Lower Iverson, with a distinctive peak in the background that I call Pyramid Peak, which is in the Rocky Peak area. (Everyone always talks about Rocky Peak, and kind of nods in that general direction, but no one has ever said with any conviction whether that particular rocky peak is the real Rocky Peak.) Toucan is in the center of the shot, and doesn't look as "Toucan-y" as it did in the Lone Ranger movie.

This version of the "Range Beyond the Blue" photo pinpoints the Toucan, along with the quirky rock in the foreground, Freddie Frog. Freddie has an interesting history of its own, which you can read about — along with more about the Toucan — by clicking here.

"Rocky Mountain Rangers" (1940)

Another angle, this time from the Three Mesquiteers movie "Rocky Mountain Rangers." That's Toucan at the right of the photo. With each new angle it looks less like a toucan. The hills in the background are west of Chatsworth Park.

The Toucan as it appears today

Today, more than three years after first spotting it in "The Lone Ranger," I finally found Toucan. It was hiding under a tree. It was a lot smaller than I expected, and covered with green moss (or something), presumably from getting too much shade. It's located in a portion of the former Iverson that has been preserved as a park, in the area just north of Garden of the Gods, which I call the North Cluster. The above shot shows what it looks like today, from close to the same angle seen in the "Rocky Mountain Rangers" shot above.

This is the most "toucan-y" shot I can get of it today, which isn't very toucan-y. It's hard to get a good look at the rock because of the tree that surrounds it.

The Saddle, or Saddle Rock

The Toucan is right next to Saddle Rock, a feature that is on the radar of most Iverson researchers. The Toucan and the Saddle are kind of hidden under the same tree. I used to call this one the Bongos before I encountered other researchers and found out that some of these rocks, including this one, already had perfectly good names — in most cases more Western-sounding than mine, which is a good thing when naming rocks that may have appeared in hundreds of Westerns.

The Toucan — mostly covered — at left, and Saddle Rock, right

Here's a shot I took today showing the Saddle, on the right, which is a little bit hard to see because of the tree, and the Toucan, on the left, which is almost impossible to see under the tree. This shot shows their proximity to each other.

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