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, December 17, 2012

Off the Beaten Path: A visit to Pioneertown turns up a clump of famous movie rocks


Pioneertown, Calif.

The Western town at Pioneertown, Calif., built around 1946, is one of only a handful of old Western movie town sets still standing. But in my eyes the most impressive historical artifacts in the Pioneertown area are the magnificent rock formations surrounding the town.


Silver Canyon" (1951) — rock clump near Pioneertown

Just back from my first visit to Pioneertown, I checked my archives and found this beauty — a screen shot from the Gene Autry B-Western "Silver Canyon." Autry was a key player in the early movie and TV history of the Pioneertown area.

This is a shot of the same rock clump today, taken during a road trip over the weekend. This spectacular group of rocks is one of countless similar rock features spread all around the area, mile after mile. They're so plentiful that it feels like a small miracle to be able to match one up from the movies. We found this one after a random decision to hang a right on an obscure dirt road. But in many cases the most spectacular rock features can be found right off the highway.

Here's another beauty in the Pioneertown area — this one is right next to the highway, probably less than two miles north of the Western town. Have you seen this group of rocks in an old movie or TV show? I haven't spotted it yet, but I have a feeling it will turn up. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you've seen this one or any other noteworthy formations.


Off the Beaten Path is a series of posts that are not specifically focused on the usual subject matter of this blog, the Iverson Movie Ranch. You can go directly to the Off the Beaten Path posts by looking up the term in the long index of labels at the right of the page, or by clicking here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Remarkable shots of a partially dismantled — and flooded — Iverson Western street in 1956, as seen in the TV show "Whirlybirds"

The late-1950s show "Whirlybirds" has been a personal favorite since I watched it on TV as a kid. In those days, the idea of flying around in a helicopter having adventures was a pretty big deal.

"Whirlybirds" episode "Ghost Town Flight" (first aired Feb. 15, 1957)

Now that I'm grown up, I love "Whirlybirds" for different reasons — namely its great location shots of the Iverson Movie Ranch. One of the best examples is the episode "Ghost Town Flight," shot in late 1956. Even in somewhat diminished picture quality, the episode provides clues to the final days of Iverson's Western street.

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, flooded and in decline, in 1956

The Western street — or what was left of it in late 1956 — is seen in a partial state of teardown in the episode. The prominent building on the left, with the steep sloped roof, is the Hotel, which apparently outlasted some of the other buildings in town, albeit in deteriorated condition.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

This is what the town looked like in better days. Built by Gary Cooper for the 1945 movie "Along Came Jones," the town became known alternately as El Paso Street (for its appearance in the 1949 movie "El Paso"), Iverson Village or simply Iverson's Western street. Take a look at the row of buildings along the right side and compare them with the photo below, from "Whirlybirds," shot about six years later.

"Ghost Town Flight" ("Whirlybirds")

The town flooded regularly during the 12 years or so that it stood, but the flooding was only caught on film a few times. This shot — probably taken from a helicopter — focuses on the buildings along the east side of the street, where the decay is evident on roofs and other features. The building at the right, with its four vertical windows, is among the most instantly recognizable structures in town.

Here's a slightly closer view of the same general area from the "Whirlybirds" sequence. This shot provides an even better look at the deterioration of some of the roofs and exterior walls.

At the top of the frame is the General Store, which was located near the north end of the street. After appearing as a general store in "Along Came Jones" in 1945, the building had many incarnations over the years, often being converted into a stagecoach stop. At the right of the frame we see what was once the Sheriff's Office — which is now crumbling to the point where it's little more than a pile of lumber.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan"

Here's another look at the General Store in better days, when it appeared as the stage depot in 1950 in "Calamity Jane and the Texan." The building at the right of this shot is the same Sheriff's Office building that looks like a "crumbling pile of lumber" in the shot above this one.

"The Roy Rogers Show": "Ghost Town Gold" (first aired May 25, 1952)

Another example of the flooded town surfaced in "The Roy Rogers Show," in an episode that would have been filmed during the winter of 1951/52. That's Roy Rogers sidekick Pat Brady driving his beloved Jeep, "Nellybelle," through the flood, with the show's co-starring German shepherd, Bullet, in the passenger seat. (You'll have to take my word for it, as it's impossible to make them out in the fuzzy screen shot.)

"Ghost Town Gold" ("The Roy Rogers Show")

Flooded or not, the Iverson Western street often played a ghost town, especially in its waning years. The town was relatively modest as Western town sets go, and this shot appears to show that deterioration was already evident in early 1952. But the town could be spruced up or dressed down depending on the needs of the production.

One more shot of Pat Brady and "Nellybelle" on their joy ride through the flooded street. The story that I've heard about this episode is that the crew showed up for what was supposed to be a regular shoot in the town, and when they found it flooded they wrote the flooding into the script. True or not, I like the story.

You can find other posts about the Iverson Western street by clicking here or looking up "Iverson Village" in the long index found at the right of this page.



This eight-episode "Whirlybirds" DVD being sold by Amazon.com is one of precious few "Whirlybirds" sets commercially available — possibly the only one. Luckily, the set includes the remarkable episode "Ghost Town Flight," featured in this post.
Click on the icon above to check it out on Amazon.