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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• 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.
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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).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Iverson's neighbor to the east: A surprise discovery

"The Trusted Outlaw" (1937)

I've been trying for a few years to figure out what this compound is that appears briefly in the background of a scene in the Bob Steele B-Western "The Trusted Outlaw." I always assumed it was a farm, as that's mainly what could be found in the northwest San Fernando Valley back then.

"The Trusted Outlaw"

I knew from the context that the shot was taken on Sheep Flats, on the Lower Iverson, and that the camera was aimed more or less toward the east. That meant that whatever the compound was, it was the Lower Iverson Movie Ranch's neighbor to the east.

1959 aerial photo

I was able to determine that the compound was situated inside a U-shaped (or C-shaped) bend in the road along the old Mayan Drive. Outside of "The Trusted Outlaw," it was all but impossible to find photos of the place — this old aerial provides one view, but it's not much help. At best, you can "kind of" make out some buildings.

L.A. County Fire Department: Station 75 (1937)

Then I ran across this photo in a presentation by the Chatsworth Historical Society. It's the mystery compound, which turns out to be a fire station. The photo — taken the same year "The Trusted Outlaw" was filmed — originated from the L.A. County Fire Department archives.

Fire Station 75

The station reportedly dates back to 1935, so it was still pretty new when these photos were taken — and when it made its fleeting appearance in "The Trusted Outlaw."

Topanga Canyon interchange with the 118 Freeway

The Fire Department moved out in the mid-1960s when the 118 Freeway came through, with Station 75 relocating to Chatsworth's Lake Manor community a few miles to the southwest. The freeway now runs pretty much directly over where the station used to stand.

The site of Fire Station 75, as it appears today

Thanks to the durability of rocks, we can still get a fix on the general location of the old fire station — even with the freeway now dominating the terrain. Iverson researcher Cliff Roberts snapped this shot of the site on a recent visit, shooting from the north side of the 118, looking south.

A number of the area's key features are identified in this version of Cliff's photo. The former Lower Iverson is essentially off to the right of the frame. The cars are exiting the 118 westbound at Topanga.

Many of the same rocks can be found in both the recent photo and the 1937 photo of the fire station. I've zoomed in a little on the photo here and have identified several of these rocks.

The same rocks identified in the recent photo — Rocks A, B, C and D — are identified again here in the 1937 shot. By comparing the two photos we can see approximately where the station was situated — even though much of the site has been consumed by the freeway.

"The Rifleman" (1961): The Lower Iverson's East Gate

While we're focused on the eastern boundary of the Lower Iverson, I wanted to share a related shot I found in an episode of the TV show "The Rifleman." Anytime a gate turns up, it's interesting, and this particular gate is one I've never seen in any other production. It appears in an episode called "First Wages," which premiered Oct. 9, 1961.

It turns out it's the gate between the Iverson Movie Ranch and Fire Station 75, more or less. On the other side of the gate is Mayan Drive, and just across Mayan Drive, although we can't see it, would be the fire station.

1959 aerial map — eastern half of Sheep Flats

Going back to that 1959 aerial, here's the lay of the land at the east end of Sheep Flats, including the location of the gate leading to Mayan Drive and the fire station. I've also noted the location of the landmark Center Rock, which remains in place today as part of the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.


Cliff said...

Sad to see more history lost to development.

Scotty Rawson said...

Thanks for the mystery solved

Mike Kolinski said...

Saw the gate in a 1942 movie on encore westerns channel, "Riders of the northland". Charles Starrette and Russ Hayden starred. The whole movie was filmed at Iverson, with the location supposed to be.....get this...Alaska! Nazi spies in a western! Loved it, since westerns are my favorite. Iverson was definetly the king of movie land then. Great site. A lot of hard work has played off in one gem of a blog. Keep up the greatwork!

Swami Nano said...

Thanks for the feedback, Cliff, Scotty and Mike ...

Mike, after I saw your comment I renewed my effort to track down "Riders of the Northland," which is a hard movie to find. The search continues ... but if it's on Encore Westerns, at least it's out there somewhere. Nice job spotting the gate!

Thanks for all your kind words. I'll keep at it.