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 iversonfilmranch@aol.com.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meena's Cabin in "Bonanza": Is this the last set built at Iverson in the filming era?

Here's a cabin that turned up in a "Bonanza" episode called "Meena," which premiered Nov. 9, 1969. The small wooden building, with its unusual roofline, would have been one of the last sets, possibly the very last set, built at the Iverson Movie Ranch while it was still a working filming location.


The surrounding rocks pinpoint the exact location where Meena's Cabin stood, which is on a piece of property that now contains an upscale estate at the end of a cul de sac on the former Upper Iverson. The above shot, taken from the rocks up above and to the east of the cabin — from an area near a familiar movie rock known as Eagle Beak Rock — shows the cabin from the opposite side of the first shot, revealing that it was in fact a full four-sided cabin and not just a "front."

That's the title character, Meena — played by Ann Prentiss — out in front of the cabin with a rifle, and Little Joe, played by Michael Landon, hurrying to try to keep her from killing somebody. (She happened to be taking aim at Candy, a good friend of the Cartwrights.)


Here's a look at Eagle Beak Rock today, at the top of the frame. You may recognize it from its hundreds of appearances in the backgrounds of chase scenes in B-Westerns, early TV shows and other productions, especially from the 1930s through the 1950s. The location of Meena's Cabin was approximately on that patch of grass near the center of the photo. The house partially visible at the far right is part of the property where the cabin stood, while the fence in the lower right corner belongs to a neighboring property.


Eagle Beak Rock turns up over and over again. Here it is at top left in the 1950 Columbia Western "Calamity Jane and the Texan," starring Evelyn Ankers and Jimmy Ellison.


Another appearance by Eagle Beak Rock, this time in an early "Bonanza" episode — "Desert Justice," which aired during the first season, premiering Feb. 20, 1960.


This is a cool shot from that same early Bonanza episode, "Desert Justice." In this view of the South Rim on the Upper Iverson, part of the concrete bridge is visible in the top left corner, and the white area at the top center of the photo is the creekbed for Fern Ann Creek (sometimes called Iverson Creek), which looks as though it was pretty dry at the time. The creek continues to flow these days, although it is usually little more than a trickle. The prominent rock feature at the far right of the photo, directly to the right of the horses, is sometimes called Gold Raiders Rock. It includes a smaller rock that was cemented on top of a larger rock, and this feature remains in place today.


"Bonanza" shot about 40 of its 430 episodes at Iverson during an impressive 14-season run on NBC (1959-1973). In my experience, when the series did shoot at Iverson it made great use of the place. It was one of the most successful of all television Westerns, and one of the most high-profile shows to shoot at Iverson. So if Meena's Cabin was in fact the last set built for filming at Iverson, it provided a fitting final chapter to the movie ranch's filming era.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pear Rock, an ugly fake mine ... and two Grove Cabins


One of the so-called "permanent" buildings on the old Iverson Movie Ranch was a small cabin located in the Eucalyptus Grove, usually called simply Grove Cabin. It's alternately known as Pear Rock Cabin, after a large rock that stood next to the cabin. The above shot from the Roy Rogers movie "Bells of Rosarita" offers a good look at the Grove Cabin in 1945 — along with a pretty spectacular old coupe. Note that the rock behind the cabin is NOT Pear Rock — Pear Rock is out of the picture, off to the left.


Here's a good look at Pear Rock from the same "Bells of Rosarita" sequence, with Roy and the boys sneaking up on the cabin.


Pear Rock is still around — here's what it looks like today. The angle isn't exactly the same, but if you're into that sort of thing, you may be able to spot some of the same markings in the above two photos.


Another shot from the "Bells of Rosarita" sequence shows Pear Rock on the left and Grove Cabin on the right, with a blurry Gabby Hayes in the middle. Note the muffin-shaped rock behind the cabin, which will come up again later in this blog entry.


For a while Grove Cabin had a really ugly fake mine next to it — seen above in the 1947 Charles Starrett movie "Law of the Canyon." This fake mine was unusual because the light-colored fake rock material was combined with an actual rock — the darker angular part to the right of the mine entrance — giving the construction a two-tone effect.

The angular rock that was a part of the mine construction is still in place — here's what it looks like today (near the center of the photo). Also visible in this shot is the tall muffin-shaped boulder that appears behind Grove Cabin in some of the above photos.


Another shot from "Law of the Canyon," this one is included to show the proximity of the fake mine, on the right, to Grove Cabin, on the left.

Grove Cabin stood for a pretty long time by movie set standards, from about 1940-1958, appearing in countless movies and TV shows. But it hasn't been widely documented that a second Grove Cabin existed for a short time near the end of that run. This smaller second cabin stood next to the original cabin, about where the fake mine used to be. The second Grove Cabin is visible above in an episode of the TV series "Circus Boy" called "The Masked Marvel," which premiered Dec. 9, 1956. (TV trivia time: "Circus Boy" starred a young Micky Dolenz, who would go on to greater fame a decade later as a member of the '60s pop band the Monkees.)


Here's another look at the two Grove Cabins, this time in 1957, from the "Gunsmoke" episode "Claustrophobia," which premiered Jan. 25, 1958. This shot also offers a better look at some of the Grove's trademark eucalyptus trees, and that tall muffin-shaped boulder can again be seen in the background. The photo is a little dark but it's more clear than most of the others, so you may want to click on the picture to enlarge it for a better look at the cabins.