Boots Rock (2015)
I recently began looking into a series of carved indentations that can be found today in rocks on the former Lower Iverson Movie Ranch. Their origins remain largely shrouded in mystery, but most or all of them appear to date back at least as far as the 1930s, and they could easily go back to the silent era. While their original purpose is unknown, at least some of them appear to be footholds, and I have been using that term to refer to them.
"They Died With Their Boots On" (1941) — Boots Rock
However, the foothold can be seen, very briefly, in "They Died With Their Boots On," as I will point out below. First I wanted to show you this "classic view" of Boots Rock — a shot of two Native American riders on top of the rock. The scene takes place as part of the drama leading up to the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Fade shot from "They Died With Their Boots On": The foothold appears in its entirety
The hole is visible in its entirety only during a double exposure, while the shot is fading from an image of a map to the sequence in which the two Native American riders ascend Boots Rock.
The square indentation on Boots Rock is one of multiple holes in that immediate area — a rocky section of the North Cluster overlooking the Iverson Gorge. I've found at least 12 footholds in the area so far, and there are probably more. In my research I've been referring to the area simply as "Footholds."
A view of Foothold B later in the day is less striking, due to the absence of shadows. But this view gives us a better idea of what the feature actually looks like.
Here's a more distant view of Foothold B showing some of its setting to the north. It's a challenge to pick out the foothold from this distance, but it's almost directly in the center of the frame.
Foothold B: closeup
A closeup of Foothold B again displays vertical scoring at the back of the carved area, similar to what we saw in Foothold A. Here we can also see what appears to be a textured area at the base of the foothold.
A short distance north of the Foothold B group, on the same rock, we find Foothold C — the textured area near the center of the frame in this recent shot.
Foothold D Group — the view from the top of Boots Rock
Another group of footholds can be found on the western slope of Boots Rock — the "front" of the rock, if you will, which is also a part of the Low Wall formation. I've designated this the Foothold D Group.
Low Wall, as it appeared in 2009 — the Foothold D area
The Foothold D Group is located a short distance south of the area we've been focused on for Footholds A, B and C. The group consists of five or six footholds, which appear to be set up as a series of steps to enable someone to climb from the bottom of the rock to the top.
The Foothold D Group area in 2015
This is what the site looks like today. While the area in front of Low Wall was devoid of vegetation in 2009, making it easy to see even the lowest "rungs" of the Group D formation, that's no longer the case.
"Go West, Young Lady" (1941) — Glenn Ford climbs Low Wall
In a scene from the Columbia musical-comedy "Go West, Young Lady," Glenn Ford's character, Tex Miller, scampers up the western slope of Low Wall in almost exactly the area where the Foothold D Group is found.
"Footholds? I don't need no steenkon' footholds!"
Then again, some readers may be impressed by the ease with which the actor ascends the slope sans footholds. You can see Ford's ascent of the wall in a video clip I've included at the bottom of this post. The clip kicks off with Ford's climb up Low Wall, then goes on to feature about four minutes of top-notch Iverson footage.
Glenn Ford on top of Low Wall in "Go West, Young Lady"
Admittedly, the evidence in "Go West, Young Lady" is less conclusive than the appearance of Foothold A in "Boots." But when it comes to digging archaeological finds out of old movies, I'll take what I can get.
A rock star is born: Glenn Ford Rock
While we're in the area, I think this distinctive formation has earned the right to be called Glenn Ford Rock. Early on in my research — before I knew any better — I referred to this rather smushed-looking feature as "Squashed Sea Cucumber." But I have to admit "Glenn Ford Rock" seems more appropriate — especially given that we should be commemorating the actor's impressive climb.
"Perils of Nyoka" (1942): Glenn Ford Rock
Glenn Ford Rock has made a number of other movie and TV appearances, including turning up in the Republic serial "Perils of Nyoka," one of the quintessential Iverson productions. To read about an early sighting of the rock, in "Thunder River Feud," please click here. That blog item also talks about the "mad genius" of old B-Western cinematographers, Robert Cline.
"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" (1935)
Here's an interesting shot of the Low Wall-Boots Rock-Glenn Ford Rock area from all the way back in the mid-1930s. The Paramount war movie "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" premiered Jan. 11, 1935, and would have been filmed in 1934. I'd love to say I can see the footholds in this shot, but I've scrutinized it in some detail and can only report a few "possibles."
"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" TV series (1960)
But once we know what to look for, the Footholds do occasionally pop up in various productions. The above shot, from a "Wyatt Earp" episode titled "The Scout," includes a nice view of the west face of Boots Rock — right where the Foothold D formation is located.
Gateway to hidden Footholds E and F
Traveling east via the pass between Footholds A and B leads to the "back" section of Footholds, where a few more of the carved holes can be found. Why the Footholds area has so many of these carvings is unknown, but I suspect they must have filmed a heck of a scene here at one time — possibly in the silent era.
Foothold E appears on the same rock as Footholds B and C, a short distance east of Foothold B.
Foothold E is a nice example of a "double foothold," with spaces for two feet placed close together. Here again, the textured area can be seen at the base of the foothold.
Foothold F may be another "double," although this one is more ambiguous than Foothold E. Foothold F is a strange one, because it's positioned close to the ground. It may be that the dirt has filled in during the 80 years or so since the foothold was created.
A closeup of Foothold F again shows scoring from the carving process, both along the vertical portion and through the base area.
Foothold F in background, with Foothold C in foreground
This shot gives some idea of where Foothold F, which you may be able to spot near the top right corner, is situated in relation to Foothold C, at the center of the frame.
"The Miracle Rider" (1935) — Tom Mix on Tom Mix Rock
Some readers may recall that I blogged last year about the discovery of another set of footholds, found in a rock not far from the Boots Rock area that I've been calling Tom Mix Rock. The bootholes in Tom Mix Rock were carved in connection with a shoot for the 1935 Mascot serial "The Miracle Rider."
Tom Mix Rock today, with the bootholes still in place
The bootholes remain in place today on Tom Mix Rock, although they are not as well-defined as many of the carved notches in the Footholds area. Please click here to read my blog post from last year about the Tom Mix bootholes from "The Miracle Rider."
Here's that video clip I mentioned earlier, from "Go West, Young Lady." Watch for Glenn Ford scampering up the side of Low Wall in the first few seconds of the clip, and then standing in front of Glenn Ford Rock. Also, you may want to stay tuned for about four minutes of terrific Iverson Movie Ranch action ...