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 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.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fans flock to famous rock

Fans of old movies and early TV shows find a lot to love at the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., but the single feature that attracts more interest than anything else is Lone Ranger Rock. It's not the most beautiful or most interesting rock at the site — far from it. But it's the most famous.

The rock became famous mainly because of its appearance in the opening to every episode of the old TV show "The Lone Ranger," in which the masked man, played by Clayton Moore, rears up on Silver right next to the rock — part of the famous "Hi-yo, Silver!" sequence. The rock was seen in many other productions as well, but this was its defining moment. 

"Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" (MGM, 1925)

The rock was making appearances in the movies decades before Clayton Moore first rode up. Above is a screen shot from one of its early appearances, back in the silent movie era. That's Lone Ranger Rock (not yet known by that name) in the top right corner, with a group of characters from biblical times standing on it and a whole mob gathered at its base.

Lone Ranger Rock, in the silent movie "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ"

It's not widely known that Lone Ranger Rock used to be called Indian Head. No one I've heard from knows how or when that name came about, but the name has been confirmed by Iverson family members. It's worth noting that at least four rocks on the former Iverson Ranch have been called Indian Head at one time or other. I blogged about the site's many Indian Heads in an earlier post that you can find by clicking here.

The TV show had its first run on ABC from 1949-1957, and it was probably around that time that the rock first started being called Lone Ranger rock. The above title shot was filmed on the Upper Iverson, while Lone Ranger Rock was located a few miles away on the Lower Iverson.

The good news is that Lone Ranger Rock, by any other name, is still alive and well. It can be seen without even getting out of your car, from Redmesa Road, just north of Santa Susana Pass Road in Chatsworth. It is also relatively easy to get to on foot, if you don't mind tromping through the sagebrush. The rock is on land that has been preserved as a park, so you don't have to risk being shot at by the locals to get your photo op. It's in Garden of the Gods Park — named after the huge sandstone boulders found mainly across the street, on the west side of Redmesa Road, which also appeared in many old Westerns and TV shows.

I was interested to see what other fans did on their visits to Lone Ranger Rock, and I tracked down a few YouTube videos documenting fan pilgrimages. I've posted them below.

First, here's a short clip by David August:

This one posted in 2016 traces the Lone Ranger's route through the Iverson Gorge, identifying a number of the rocks he passes along the way:

You can see another cool video about a fan visit to Lone Ranger Rock by going to this YouTube link. That one has embedding disabled, so I can't post it here. But it's worth checking out.

If you're thinking about heading out to Chatsworth to see the rock for yourself, I have two minor cautionary notes: (1) Watch out for poison oak, and (2) watch out for snakes.

Poison oak at Iverson, not far from Lone Ranger Rock

Poison oak is easier to spot after it starts turning red — and it also gets more potent then. But it's dangerous even when it's green, which is one of its sneaky and unpleasant characteristics. (Others include making you itch like heck, being resistant to just about any kind of treatment, and sticking to clothes and everything else, meaning you can get it from just touching your clothes.) In case you haven't had the "pleasure" of coming into contact with it before, take my word for it: You don't want to. If you're not sure you can recognize it in the wild, try not to touch any plants, and be careful when handling your shoes and pants after you hike in the area.

Western diamondback rattlesnake

The other warning is about snakes. A number of different species live at Iverson, but the ones you have to worry about are the rattlers. I still have yet to see my first rattlesnake at Iverson — the above photo is not shot there — but I've encountered other snakes at the site, and that was scary enough. The rattler is known to live there, so be careful about where you step, and if you do see one, give it some room. Word is they don't usually hassle you if you don't hassle them.

Just a reminder: You CAN see Lone Ranger Rock from your car, or from the sidewalk, if you're reluctant to tromp around in the brush. If you head north up Redmesa Road from Santa Susana Pass Road, the rock is one of the first things you'll see, on the right. But I still recommend getting out of the car.

Below are Amazon links to some of the DVD packages of the old "Lone Ranger" material, with a warning that many of the best packages go out of print from time to time.


Otis Criblecoblis said...

You can identify poison oak definitively by its characteristic three-leaf grouping, which you can see in the picture above. Plus, it's low to the ground.

Electric Dylan Lad said...

Thanks for your advice, OC ... there's tons of the stuff at Iverson this year, that's for sure. Especially in the Gorge — near Lone Ranger Rock, Nyoka Cliff, Three Ages Rock, Doglips, etc. It should start turning red soon.


Anonymous said...

When I was there a couple weeks ago two birdwatchers said they had always called it duckbill rock and had only learned recently about it being Lone Ranger rock. I expect if you went to the surrounding houses and asked where Lone Ranger rock is most of them would have no idea what you were talking about.