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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part XIV: The Church/Schoolhouse

Eddie Dean stands his ground in "Check Your Guns" (1948)

The Church at the south end of town had one of the shortest lifespans of all of the buildings on the Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, standing for just two years, from 1947-1949.

But despite the brevity of its movie career — or maybe because of it — the Church has a lot of cachet among film location aficionados. I've blogged about it in the past, and would like to refer readers to an in-depth entry I did on the Church less than a year ago, which you can find by clicking here.

Promo still for "The Millerson Case" (1947): The Church debuts as a schoolhouse

It's not clear who built the Church, but it was probably originally put up as a set for either the Crime Doctor movie "The Millerson Case" or the Hopalong Cassidy movie "The Marauders."

"The Marauders" (1947): First appearance of the Church as a church

The two movies were released a month apart — "The Millerson Case" on May 29, 1947, followed by "The Marauders" on July 1 — and the Church/Schoolhouse was prominently featured in both productions.

1947 aerial photo, featuring the Western street — including the Church

One development since I last blogged about the Church almost a year ago was that a historic aerial photo of the area surfaced from 1947. Watermarks on the photo say 2011, but it only recently came into circulation.

This version of the 1947 aerial shot highlights the Church. The photo is not as clear as similar shots from other years, but you may be able to make out the Iverson Western street near the center of the frame.

2003 aerial photo: Indian Hills Mobile Home Village

Adapting the location of the Church from 1947 to a more recent aerial photo, we can see that the area where the Church was located is now occupied by the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

After a lot of time spent scouring old aerial photos and screen shots, I was able to determine that the tree noted here, in the 1947 aerial, was fake.

"The Marauders": Fake tree

Taking another look at the "Marauders" screen shot, I believe this is the fake tree. When I say "fake," I mean, it may have been a real tree, but it was brought in. It did not grow on that spot — and at some point around when the Church went away, so did the tree.

"Check Your Guns" (1948)

The fake tree appears in other productions as well, and from some angles appears almost perfectly round. Once you know to look for it, it does begin to look like a movie tree.

I believe this is the same fake tree seen in the 1947 aerial and in "The Marauders."

"Bat Masterson" TV series (footage from 1947, aired in 1961)

The fake tree appears to have been in place before the Church went up. It can be seen in the above shot filmed in 1947, just before the Church was built. The footage surfaced several years later in an episode of the TV series "Bat Masterson" titled "The Fatal Garment."

The fake tree is noted in this version of the "Bat Masterson" shot. I discussed other features of this shot in a recent entry on the Rainbow Mine Co. building, which you can see by clicking here.

"Check Your Guns" — west side of the Church

While many of the buildings on the Western street were fake fronts, it appears that the Church was a complete building with four sides and a roof, an observation that is corroborated by the 1947 aerial photo. The above shot from "Check Your Guns" provides a look at the west side of the building.

"The Marauders" — Hoppy & Co. outside the Church

We get another look at the same side of the building in "The Marauders," this time with a nice close view of that movie tree. It looks pretty realistic from this angle — but that's what movie trees are supposed to do.

1947: Schoolhouse turret vs. Church bell tower

I won't go into detail here about how the building transformed from a schoolhouse to a church, and back again. I covered that process in the earlier entry on the Church, which you can see by clicking here.

"The Hawk of Powder River" (Eddie Dean, 1948, from PRC)

Many of the Church's screen appearances were in low-budget B-Westerns from Producers Releasing Corp., which set up shop on the Iverson Western street for much of the 1940s. The Church is frequently seen in the background in PRC's Lash LaRue and Eddie Dean movies from 1947-1949.

This version of the "Hawk of Powder River" screen shot points out two nearby rocks that are closely associated with the Church: Gumdrop and Church Rock.

"Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" (1949)

Taking a break from its duties as PRC background material, the Church had a featured role — and a rare color showcase — in Universal's "Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" in 1949. The Church appeared as a schoolhouse in the movie — note the rectangular tops on the windows, in contrast to other photos in this post.

"Oklahoma Justice" (1951)

Once the Church was gone, it was much easier to spot Gumdrop at the south end of the street. Church Rock, meanwhile, with its distinctive overhang, continued to hover up above.

Both Church Rock and Gumdrop remain in place today, just across the brick wall that runs along the southern boundary of the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

"The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time" is a series of posts on the movie and TV history of each of the major structures making up Iverson's town set, which stood from 1945 to 1957 and appeared in hundreds of productions.

To see all of the posts in the series on the Iverson Western street, please click on the following links:

Part I: Casa Grande
Part II: The Livery Stable
Part III: The Saloon
Part IV: The Hotel
Part V: The General Store 
Part VI: The Barn
Part VII: The Sheriff's Office
Part VIII: The North and South Adobes
Part IX: The Lost Dutchman
Part X: The original north end of town
Part XI: The North and South Towers
Part XII: The Harness Maker
Part XIII: Rainbow Mine Co. 
Part XIV: The Church/Schoolhouse  
Part XV: The Corral Rocks Shack
Part XVI: The decline and fall of the Western street


Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed your series on the western buildings! I especially like the old aerial photo compared to the more recent aerial photo. To my eye, The proximity of some of the trees in each photo makes it appear that some of them may have actually survived. Just my two cents worth. Keep up the great work. Rick

Swami Nano said...

Thanks, Rick. Much appreciated.

I've been keeping an eye on the trees too, and there are a few in the mobile home park area that survived, but not many. The one above Center Rock is an example, but it has been pruned back drastically.

While I've been doing the Western street series, I've followed up on a few trees in the vicinity of the town set and was heartbroken to find that one of the most important ones was taken down just in the past 10 years or so.

You can see it in the 1947 aerial and the 2003 aerial in this post, almost directly above the church, near the top of the frame. In 1947 it was right near the northernmost buildings still standing from the Wee Willie Winkie set. And in 2003 it could still be seen in the mobile home park.

Sadly, sometime between 2005 and 2012, the tree was removed.

There's always more work to be done, and I still have a number of trees to check out near the perimeter of the mobile home park. I used to say "So many rocks, so little time," but I suppose I'll have to find a way to work trees into my mantra too.