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.
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• 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).
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part XV: The Corral Rocks Shack

"Bonanza" TV series (1960) — The Corral Rocks Shack

Apologies for starting off with a shot of a dead guy, but if you're a fan of Westerns, you're probably used to it. This is one of the best screen shots I could find of the Corral Rocks Shack, a tiny but surprisingly durable building that played a key role in the saga of the Iverson Western street.

"Along Came Jones" (1945): First sign of the Iverson town set

The on-screen history of the Western street begins and ends with the Corral Rocks Shack. While the Shack has been largely overlooked, it was the first building associated with the Iverson Ranch town set to appear on screen, and it was also the last.

The Shack appears in the background as Gary Cooper, in the white hat, and his sidekick, played by William Demarest, arrive in Payneville, played by the newly minted Iverson Movie Ranch Western street.

Cooper, who also produced "Along Came Jones," had the town built specifically for the movie. It appears that the Corral Rocks Shack, situated on the outskirts of town among the movie rocks that border the town's sprawling corral area on the east side, was a part of that construction.

"Night Raiders" (1952)

During the years the town set was in place, from 1945 to 1957, the Shack's main role consisted of sneaking into the background on occasion. Here's an example from the Whip Wilson movie "Night Raiders."

The Shack appears at the left of the frame, beneath the Corral Rocks — a line of large boulders bordering the corral that gives the Shack its name. The southernmost Corral Rock is Hook Rock, noted at top right. In the middle of the corral, which is adjacent to the Livery Stable, are the Livery Rocks.

"The Cisco Kid" TV series (1954)

Here's a blurry background appearance by the Shack in the TV show "The Cisco Kid." The Western street was still in place when this sequence was shot, and Cisco was running through the corral near the Livery Stable.

The screen shot comes from the episode "Mining Madness," which premiered Nov. 6, 1954.

"Bonanza" (1960) — Hoss (Dan Blocker) at the Corral Rocks Shack

After the town was demolished — a process that was completed by early 1958 — the only building left standing was the Corral Rocks Shack. Thia appearance by the Shack in "Bonanza," in the episode "Denver McKee," came two years after the Western town had been torn down.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1958): The Corral Rocks Shack, in "The Hole Up"

Some of the best appearances by the Shack took place between 1958 and 1963 — the period following the dismantling of the town. The tiny building had a role in a sequence that played out over multiple episodes of the TV Western "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," starting with the episode "The Hole Up."

Morgan Woodward, as Shotgun Gibbs, lives up to his name on "Wyatt Earp"

The Shack was part of the modest spread owned by Shotgun Gibbs, played by Morgan Woodward. The rough-around-the-edges character was introduced in "The Hole Up," which premiered Sept. 16, 1958.

Gibbs' spread included the Corral Rocks Shack, which served as a small stable, along with a temporary shed on the left that was set up on the site to appear as Gibbs' house.

Even though the Corral Rocks Shack was a much more permanent structure, standing for a good 18 years, the temporary shed — which may have stood in that spot for as little as a day or two — was quite a bit nicer.

Gibbs valued his privacy, to put it mildly, something the sign posted on his fence made clear. Some of the Corral Rocks can be seen in the background.

Recalling the first meeting between Earp and Gibbs

Gibbs started off as an adversary of Marshal Earp's, but eventually became Earp's deputy and friend, evolving into a regular on the series. A later episode, "Hail and Farewell," used a flashback to recall the testy first encounter between the two men. A portion of the Corral Rocks Shack can be seen at the left.

Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp near the temporary shed in "Hail and Farewell"

The flashback brought in additional footage to expand on the reminiscence — including shots of the Shack and the temporary shed. It's likely that the new footage was shot at the same time as the original footage, in 1958.

"Hail and Farewell" included some wide shots of Sheep Flats, where the Western street had stood previously.

Some of the key features are noted in this version of the shot. "Hail and Farewell" was the first episode of season five of "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," premiering Sept. 1, 1959.

"Wagon Train": "The Stagecoach Story" (Sept. 30, 1959)

Around the same time "Wyatt Earp" kicked off its fifth season with the "Hail and Farewell" episode, another popular TV Western, "Wagon Train," launched its third season with an episode titled "The Stagecoach Story," which also included shots of Sheep Flats and the Corral Rocks Shack.

The Shack was barely noticeable in the background in the "Wagon Train" sequence. In this shot I've identified the Shack, along with some nearby rocks. You may recall that Hidden Rock was located near the Barn when the Western street was in place; you can click here to see an earlier blog post about it.

This version of the "Wagon Train" shot points out Iverson Pond, the centerpiece of the sequence, along with the massive string of sandstone boulders I call the Corral Rocks, which bordered the Corral area on the east side when the town set was standing.

"The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" (1962) — Iverson Pond

The Three Stooges turned up on Sheep Flats in 1961 for a shoot at Iverson Pond for "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules," released in early 1962. It was one of the few times Sheep Flats hosted actual sheep for a movie shoot.

The Three Stooges sequence again included the Corral Rocks Shack, but as was often the case, it was way in the background and barely noticeable.

"The Virginian": "Strangers at Sundown" (1963)

A beautiful sequence featuring Iverson Pond surfaced in 1963 in an episode of "The Virginian" titled "Strangers at Sundown." The sequence marked one of the last times filming was done on Sheep Flats.

Once again, the Corral Rocks Shack appeared in the background. Also appearing were a couple of rock features that were formerly part of the Western street: Pond Rock and Hidden Rock.

Indian Hills Mobile Home Village — on the former site of the Iverson Western street

The same year the "Virginian" episode aired, 1963, Sheep Flats was sold — the first portion of the former Iverson Movie Ranch to be sold off. Later that year, construction began on the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village, which still occupies the space today.

On this aerial view of the mobile home park from 2003, I've noted the approximate area where the Western town set once stood.

This 2003 aerial marks the spot where the Corral Rocks Shack was located, along with some of the nearby rock features that remain in place today.

With the permission of one of the moblie home owners, I once searched for any traces that might be left from the Corral Rocks Shack, focusing on the area noted above. Sadly, but to no surprise, the terrain had been fully graded during construction of the mobile home park, and nothing remained of the Shack.

Next up: The big finish to the Western street series.

"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

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