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

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tongva carvings? Can we get an expert opinion ...

Sphinx, Garden of the Gods, Chatsworth, Calif.

Anyone know what Tongva carvings look like? The carvings in the rock area seen above, on the south side of Sphinx, have been referred to as ancient Native American carvings, but I've never seen convincing evidence one way or the other.

Here's a closer look. I can easily make out a fish and a horse, but that doesn't mean they're actual ancient carvings. If they are in fact Native American in origin, then they're almost certainly attributable to the Tongva.

This angle might bring out the horse a little better, just to the right of the fish. It's hard to duplicate the three-dimensional qualities that surface when viewing them in person, but the set of carvings includes a number of other images that are harder to see than the fish and the horse.

Sphinx is easy to find in Garden of the Gods, and if you can find Sphinx you can find the carvings.

The Tongva occupied much of what is now Southern California — including the San Fernando Valley and the land that later became the Iverson Movie Ranch — for thousands of years before the Spanish missionaries arrived in the 1770s. You may be interested to know that many of the place names in use in the region are Tongva in origin. Among them: Topanga, Cahuenga, Tujunga, Pacoima, Cucamonga and Azusa — even though many of us were brought up to believe Azusa stands for "everything from A to Z in the USA."

If you're interested in learning more about the Tongva — and getting the real lowdown on the history of, among other things, the Iverson Movie Ranch, long before the glamour days of the movie business — I can point you to a few books offered by Amazon to get you started. Check out the links below ...


Anonymous said...

Another interesting find. I wish I had noticed that when I was there. If I was to place a guess, I would have to say it is the result of a bored production crew member amusing himself between takes. It has been my experience that if they are in fact authentic ancient carvings, the entire area would be off limits and declared sacred, and then surrounded by a fence, never to be touched again. Always a pleasure! Rick

Swami Nano said...

Interesting theory, Rick ... and a good point about the area being off limits. The feedback I've been getting leans strongly toward the carvings being non-indigenous in origin. (In other words, fake.) Most of the explanations I've heard blame it on teenagers. One fairly reliable source said the carvings go back to circa 1900, and even that source added that it was "probably teenagers." I suppose the idea of teenagers having nothing better to do is not new. Maybe it was Tongva teenagers!