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, August 29, 2015

Garden of the Gods: Now featuring more naked rocks!

Tower Rock, left, and Sphinx (2015)

A welcome trend in recent months has been the move toward a more open, one might even say more "naked," Iverson Movie Ranch. The recent photo above shows the "new look" version of the Garden of the Gods fixtures Tower Rock — also known as the Pinnacle — and Sphinx.

Tower Rock and Sphinx a few years ago

Up until recently, this was the view we had of Tower Rock and Sphinx. The main difference, other than the fact that I have a better camera now than I did then, is that the tree was recently removed that was blocking the view of Tower Rock. The view of Sphinx, on the right, remains pretty much the same.

Eraserhead, before the removal of the ivy

I don't know that it's part of a conscious effort to "free the rocks," but the removal of that tree follows a couple of other similar developments, including the trimming of ivy that was covering much of "Eraserhead." In this shot from 2011, Eraserhead — one of the main boulders forming Rock Island — is barely visible behind all that ivy.

Eraserhead, minus the ivy

Eraserhead today is big, bald and proud — and free of not only the ivy, but also the grass that was encroaching on its space. Now if only it could bust out of "Rock Island Prison."

RI-2: It's here, it's clear, get used to it

Some of the other Rock Island mainstays — notably RI-2, positioned to the left of Eraserhead in these shots — are also waving their freak flags a little higher these days. Not that long ago, RI-2 was all but impossible to see.

"Overland Stage Raiders" (1938): Rock Island by the numbers

I did an in-depth blog post about Rock Island back in May, and encourage you to click here to check out that post if you're interested in learning more about this fascinating cluster of famous movie rocks.

Mushroom Rock in recent years: It's in there somewhere

Another beneficiary of the trend toward leaner, cleaner foliage around the ranch has been Mushroom Rock. Movie fans have been deprived of the sight of its defining crown for decades, with much of the rock hidden behind foliage (not to mention garbage bins and other junk).

Mushroom Rock in 2015

For the first time in decades, the crown that defined Mushroom Rock in the movies again saw the light of day this year. Unfortunately, the garbage bins and piles of crappola remain in place. I talked more about the emergence of Mushroom Rock in a blog item back in April, which you can read by clicking here.

One benefit of the new, more visible, Garden of the Gods is that it has "liberated" a piece of the Iverson Movie Ranch legacy: the "Garden" sign. In the past it was difficult to get a good look at the inscription because it was concealed beneath the tree. This recent shot of the sign was taken by film historian Jerry Condit.

Not much is known about the sign, but this shot pinpoints where it is located. It is generally assumed that there's also an "of the Gods" piece of the stone engraving somewhere, but no such piece has ever turned up.

Behind-the-scenes shot from production on "Man-Woman-Marriage" in 1920

I believe it's possible to make out the same rock 95 years ago in this production shot from the 1920 filming of the silent movie "Man-Woman-Marriage," released in early 1921. It is unlikely that the inscription was already in place that long ago, although even with an unusually sharp photo such as this, there's no way to tell from this distance.

This slightly zoomed-in version of the "Man-Woman-Marriage" production shot highlights what I believe to be the same rock that now displays the "Garden" inscription. It appears to me that the small rocks just to the right of the "Garden" rock were covered up by the palace set. To see additional photos from the filming of the battle scene for "Man-Woman-Marriage," please click here.

I first published versions of the "Man-Woman-Marriage" photo as part of a recent post about the fake cave house, which is seen in this version of the shot. For the rundown on the cave house, which is featured in the Buster Keaton movie "Three Ages," please click here.

June 2015: The tree below Tower Rock, weeks before being cut down

Of course, there's a downside to the tree removal, and it's kind of obvious: the loss of the tree. As luck would have it, I happened to take pictures of that same tree on a visit to Garden of the Gods back in June. It seems obvious now that the tree was not healthy, which explains why it had to go.

Was it a famous movie tree? It does appear that the tree was around when filming was taking place in the area, but I have yet to find an example of an identifiable sighting of the tree in any movie or TV show.

Here's a shot of the same tree that I took back in February, when the tree was already looking pretty unhealthy. I took this shot to capture the group of rocks in the foreground, situated just east of where the tree was.

"Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958): The "Easy Chair"

I gave the group of rocks the nickname the "Easy Chair" because of this shot from the TV show "Wanted: Dead or Alive" in which a sentry relaxes in the crack between two of the rocks while on duty.

"Richard the Lion-Hearted" (1923)

These same rocks — the "Easy Chair," if you will — came up in a recent post about the silent movie "Richard the Lion-Hearted," where I pointed out that the group of rocks could be seen both in recent shots and in shots of the movie's castle set from 1923. Please click here if you would like to read that post in its entirety.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another great post. These photos answer some of my questions about the rocks below Tower Rock. I like the find of the "GARDEN" carving.