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 20, 2016

Roy Rogers' rocky rendezvous on Cactus Hill

"The Roy Rogers Show" ("Unwilling Outlaw," premiered March 8, 1952)

I found myself on Cactus Hill the other day searching for something that Iverson co-conspirator Cliff Roberts pointed out in an old episode of "The Roy Rogers Show."

The rock noted here has a featured role in a brief sequence where Roy comes to the aid of the "unwilling outlaw" of the episode title — a friend of Roy and Dale's who everyone thinks has gone bad.

A wider view of the area provides a nice look at the rock, along with a view of the foothills to the east of the Iverson Movie Ranch. Filming for the episode would have taken place late in 1951.

I've noted the rock again here to make it clear which rock I was trying to find. Based on its context in the episode, I expected to find it on top of Cactus Hill, near the east end of the hill.

While we're at it, I want to make sure you notice Roy, who's helping his fallen friend at the side of the trail.

We get a pretty good look at the rock in this shot of Roy helping Jed Collins, aka the "unwilling outlaw," played by prolific B-Western baddie I. Stanford Jolley. Not to spoil it, but Jolley plays a good guy here.

The same rock, as it appears in 2016

On my recent trip to Cactus Hill — the small hill that once separated the Upper Iverson from the Lower Iverson — I found the rock right where it was supposed to be. However, I have to admit I had a little trouble recognizing it.

The rock has undergone a bit of a facelift since 1951 — although "lift" probably isn't the right word. A big chunk at the top of the rock fell off at some point during the 65 years since "The Roy Rogers Show" filmed here.

It's an important piece, going a long way to define the look of the rock as it appeared back in 1951.

Fortunately, other markers on the rock can be identified, ensuring a positive match between then and now.

The same markers on the rock are highlighted in the same colors in the above two photos. Plus, the overall shape of the rock is pretty distinctive, even with the piece missing.

"Turban Rock," right, with the rock seen in "Unwilling Outlaw" on the left

The rock from the "Roy Rogers" episode is located close to an instantly recognized rock that I've been tracking for some time, which I call "Turban Rock" in my research. The two rocks overlook the western San Fernando Valley.

"Gun Street" (United Artists, 1961): Turban Rock

Positioned near the top of Cactus Hill, Turban Rock can be seen from many different angles and pops up in backgrounds all the time. However, the rock does not appear in the "Roy Rogers" episode.

Taking another look at the wide shot from "Unwilling Outlaw," let me call your attention to the background hills highlighted here.

This recent vista taken from near the "Unwilling Outlaw" rock includes the same background features in their contemporary setting. Suffice to say the place has gone through some changes.

The most obvious change since the "Roy Rogers" days is development, with the homes of the massive Porter Ranch development now occupying much of the landscape.

At the same time, many of the hills — especially those in the distance — remain largely untouched. The features identified here as A, B, C, D and E can all be found in the "Roy Rogers" vista.

Some of the most distant features are hard to make out here — particularly the peak labeled "C." But they're all here if you look closely.

The foothill that might be considered the "next hill over" looking east from Cactus Hill has paid a price in its battle against encroaching development in the years since Roy Rogers rode the local range.

This hill, which sits right in the middle of the largely built-out Porter Ranch area, has had a number of chunks taken out of it, and in fact has itself been earmarked for further development.

Hill in the middle of Porter Ranch (east of Cactus Hill and the Iverson Ranch)

This is what the hill to the east of Cactus Hill looks like today in a Google aerial — already carved up into individual lots and waiting to be developed into a high-profile suburban jungle that will match the surrounding neighborhoods.

Roy Rogers poses for a photo with two kids who showed up 
during a location shoot on the Upper Iverson (circa 1951)

A quick word about Roy Rogers, who I've always thought was one of the coolest of the old cowboy stars. By all accounts, he was a genuinely nice guy, and numerous photos have turned up that support that claim — including this one of Roy taking time out from an Iverson shoot to delight a couple of kids with a photo op.

I only wish someone would see to it that "The Roy Rogers Show," which is not on DVD in complete form and hard to find in any kind of decent quality, gets a long-overdue remastered DVD release of the full series. 


Roger Horton said...

Me too love to have a digitally remastered dvd set of the Roy Rogers Show

Brian Harrington said...

As always well done, thank you for your efforts in this preservation and education process for all of us viewers, I do hope to at least do a drive out past this ranch my next trip to California on business, it would be well worth the day trip. What I read on the web about Roy Rogers instructing his family members to close down the museum and sell everything the day it lost money as we know it finally happened, its slowly drifting into history with the rest of our Western Hero's from an era gone by.

Mark Sherman said...

Thanks again! Always informative... Is that the same Porter Ranch that had such a terrible gas leak several months ago?

Swami Nano said...

One and the same! And it used to be such a nice place ...

Thanks for commenting.


Mark said...

The wide angle shot of the Porter Development area is the saddest thing I might have ever seen.

Gerry Dooley said...

Thank you so much for what you do. I 've been to Iverson many times and am a location fanatic but you are the king. What a labor of love. Great job