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.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• 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.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• 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.
• Readers can email the webmaster at

Sunday, October 9, 2016

An Iverson Movie Ranch mystery solved: Here's what happened to the "Hangman's Tree"

"Hangman's Tree" on the Lower Iverson Movie Ranch in 1981 
(photo from "An Ambush of Ghosts," by David Rothel)

I've been obsessing for a while over this photo of what's been called the "Hangman's Tree." And after several months, my obsessing finally paid off.

"Hangman's Tree" location in 2016

On a recent visit to the former Iverson Movie Ranch, I was able to pinpoint the location where the Hangman's Tree once stood. Unfortunately, the tree is long gone.

"Pioneer Justice" (1947): The Hangman's Tree

As is usually the case, it took multiple sources of information to crack the mystery. In this instance, the biggest clue surfaced in the Lash LaRue movie "Pioneer Justice."

I couldn't match the tree in "Pioneer Justice" directly with the tree in Rothel's book, but it has all the hallmarks of a good hanging tree. And it's right next to a rock that looks like it might be easy to find.

Another great clue lurks in the background of the "Pioneer Justice" shot — something that looks suspiciously like Zorro's Cave. That would be the first place I'd look.

Hangman's Tree area, including "Hangman's Tree Rock," in 2016

When I arrived at the target area, everything was right where it was supposed to be — except the tree. "Hangman's Tree Rock" has survived, and still looks exactly as it did in "Pioneer Justice."

The tree and rock in 1981, in "An Ambush of Ghosts"

The rock is easy to miss in Rothel's landmark Western locations book, but it's there, hidden in the shadows. As the only surviving feature in the shot, the rock holds the key to locking down the spot.

"Pioneer Justice"

As a bonus, I was able to identify a couple of other rocks seen in "Pioneer Justice," still in place today and further pinpointing the tree's former location.

The same area, photographed in 2016

Those same two rocks can be identified today, still in the same positions.

It's no longer possible to see Zorro's Cave from this vantage point, but it's back there and can be seen from other angles.

Hangman's Tree Rock in 2016 (angle approximates the 1981 photo)

The final puzzle piece is to see whether "Hangman's Tree Rock" matches the rock in the 1981 photo when they're shot from approximately the same angle.

It does. The key markers are noted here in the 1981 photo, with the rock's vertical face and its sloping profile being especially important.

While I couldn't match the high angle of the 1981 shot, all of the same markers can be found on the rock today even from ground level.

If the Hangman's Tree were still in place, this is about where it would be standing. The tree apparently did not fit in with the landscapers' vision for the Cal West Townhomes.

Nearby Zorro's Cave can still be found, but today it has a metal gate blocking the west entrance and is situated on private property adjacent to the condos.

The former Hangman's Tree area also stands on private property, at an intersection of driveways among the condos on the former Lower Iverson.

Click on the link above to go to to learn more about David Rothel's excellent book on Western movie locations, "An Ambush of Ghosts." You may or may not be able to purchase a copy depending on availability.