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.
• Readers can email the webmaster at

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wonders of the Upper Iverson: Screen shot from the old Whip Wilson movie "Montana Incident" is filled with hidden gems

"Montana Incident" (1952)

At the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., where more movies were filmed than in any other outdoor location, there's almost always more to the picture than meets the eye. The above shot from the Whip Wilson movie "Montana Incident," in which not much appears to be going on, is a case in point.

Here's the same screen shot with some of the main movie rocks and one manmade set noted. Whip Wilson, in the lower left corner, is doing some surveying for the railroad, with the help of a number of armed riders. (It seems the local cattle ranchers don't cotton to railroad folk.) Around the edges of the shot lurk a number of widely filmed Upper Iverson features, which I'll talk about in more detail below.

"Tennessee's Partner" (1955) — Miner's Cabin and mine entrance

The Miner's Cabin, sometimes called the Lone Ranger Cabin, was often featured with a fake mine entrance affixed to the rocks to its left, as seen in the above screen shot from the Ronald Reagan-John Payne Western "Tennessee's Partner." Part of the lore of the cabin is that it's here the Lone Ranger mined silver and forged his trademark silver bullets.

"The Roy Rogers Show" (1952)

At times the Miner's Cabin set included two mines, as seen above in the "Roy Rogers" TV show episode "Ride in the Death Wagon," which first aired April 6, 1952, during the show's first season.

The foundation of Miner's Cabin survives today, on the former Upper Iverson. You can click here to see a previous blog entry about the cabin, with additional photos of the cabin and foundation.

Also still in place near the old Miner's Cabin is a rebar fastener that was used to hold a fake mine entrance in position. One of only a few remaining manmade artifacts from the filming era at Iverson, it's located directly below the rock I call Gorilla. See below for more about Gorilla.

A closer look at the fastener that remains from the old fake mine entrance reveals that it's a two-piece metal device, and you can also see indentations and other markings on the rock that were left over from decades of attaching and removing the fake mines.

"Ghost Town Renegades" (1947) — Smiling Lion

Smiling Lion, usually seen in the background, is still around today, overlooking Fern Ann Creek. It had a fair amount of screen time back in the old B-Western days, and it can reflect a number of different "moods" depending on the camera angle.

"Wild Horse Ambush" (1952)

Still smiling in the Republic B-Western "Wild Horse Ambush," above.

"The Blocked Trail" (1943)

Smiling Lion is a little dark in this shot from Republic's Three Mesquiteers movie "The Blocked Trail," but the rock is right behind the cowboy in the center of the shot. The rock's "smile" gets wider as the camera position shifts — here the head appears slightly more elongate than in the previous photo.

The mood appears darker, even sinister, in this recent photo of Smiling Lion — looking more like "Scowling Lion" here. Notch Hill can be seen at top right in this shot, with the color tones and long shadows indicating the picture was taken late in the day, looking east.

"Boots Malone" (1952) — Whale Rock

Whale Rock is most often associated with its appearance in the horse racing movie "Boots Malone," with the above shot being one of only a scant few times the rock is seen clearly from this angle — its most "whale-like" — in any movie or TV show.

Whale Rock also appears in a less obvious but I think still interesting shot in another scene from the movie "Boots Malone."

Same shot with a couple of notations, as it's possible to miss the partially blocked Whale Rock from this distance. The photo also points out Fern Ann Creek, with its rocky creekbed. Notice the smooth dirt road below Whale Rock, seen here supporting a vehicle towing a horse trailer.

"Man From Cheyenne" (1942)

Whale Rock's "mouth" did make it into other productions on occasion, one being the above appearance in the Roy Rogers movie "Man From Cheyenne." Here again, the dirt road below Whale Rock is getting some use.

Here's a recent shot of Whale Rock. Overgrown and all but gone is the smooth road that once curved just below Whale, although traces of it can still be seen in front of the rock, in the lower right corner of the shot.

"Rawhide Rangers" (1941) — the Slates

I've blogged previously about the Slates, and did a "Classic Rock" segment on the rock that you can find by clicking here. Even so, it's always worth another look at the rock that has been described as the best thing since sliced bread.

Here's the same shot from the Universal B-Western "Rawhide Rangers," with a number of features highlighted — and showing the proximity of the Slates to the Tomb. The Slates and Gorilla are also seen in the "Montana Incident" shot at the top of this post.

"California Firebrand" (1948)

Practically the same shot, in color this time, from a different movie. This one appears in the Monte Hale movie "California Firebrand," from Republic.

A contemporary shot of the Slates from a slightly different angle includes another familiar Upper Iverson landmark, Turtle Rock, in the background at top left.

"Five Guns West" (1955) — Gorilla

The rock known as Gorilla really looks like a gorilla when it's shot from the right angle, but it was apparently a hard angle for film crews to get because only a few productions have captured it. One of the best Gorilla shots is in the above scene from Roger Corman's Western "Five Guns West," where the rock gets in touch with its inner gorilla.

In case you're having trouble seeing it, I've highlighted Gorilla in the "Five Guns West" shot, above. Corman's first movie as a director, "Five Guns West" is an Iverson spectacle — check out this blog entry for more about the master cult film director's terrific Iverson shoot for "Five Guns West," and you can click here for another example of Corman's showcasing of Iverson, in the 1957 release "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent."

Gorilla's contemporary setting

These days, Gorilla can still be elusive when hunted in the wild.

This may be the rock at its most "gorilla-like," in a recent shot that also features a few of the estates now occupying the former Upper Iverson. The major rock feature to the left of Gorilla is Turtle Rock.

All of the rocks spotlighted above appeared in that single shot at the top of this post, from the Whip Wilson movie "Montana Incident." The movie has terrific Iverson content virtually nonstop from beginning to end, and is on my list of the Great Iverson Movies. The movie is included in a nicely put-together DVD set, "Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 2," which you can find on Amazon by using one of the links below. I'll add links to some of the other volumes as well — the whole series contains a lot of Iverson material, in great picture quality.

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