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).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

"The Outlaw Deputy": The day Karl and Augusta Iverson invited a movie company to shoot in their house

Karl and Augusta Iverson, ca. early 1940s (Quiet on the Set)

The Iverson Movie Ranch was founded by Karl and Augusta Iverson, who homesteaded in the rocky hills above the northwest San Fernando Valley in the late 19th century.

Iverson family watermelon crop (ca. early 1930s)

Like most of the families that settled the West, the Iversons' original livelihood came from farming. The family grew a variety of crops over the years, including potatoes, figs, grapes and watermelons.

"The Silent Man" (1917), one of the earliest movies filmed on the Iverson Ranch:
The rocks in the background can still be found at the site

After early Hollywood location scouts started sniffing around the couple's hillside property as early as 1912, Karl and Augusta began transitioning from farming to the movie location business.

Karl and Augusta Iverson's "house on the hill" under construction (ca. 1927)

By the late 1920s, their sons Joe and Aaron had taken over much of the day-to-day movie business, and Karl and Augusta moved into their new house overlooking the Valley.

Karl and Augusta's house after the January 1930 snowstorm

Built in about 1927, the house was located near the homes of both Joe and Aaron, but was remote enough to enable the couple to enjoy their golden years in relative privacy.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" TV series (1960)

The movie business was generally kept a safe distance from the residence, which became known as the "Old Folks' House." It was only on rare occasions that a partial glimpse of the house might slip into the background of a movie or TV episode.

So it was out of character when, in 1935, Augusta and Karl allowed a film crew into their home to shoot a scene for the movie "The Outlaw Deputy."

"The Outlaw Deputy" (1935): Scene filmed in the Iversons' house

The brief scene plays out in a corner of the Iverson house, showcasing some of the building's distinctive arches. The location for this shoot would have been lost to history had it not been for the sharp eye of film historian Tinsley E. Yarbrough.

"The Outlaw Deputy": Nora Lane in the Iverson home

Tinsley noticed the scene in the movie and was able to pinpoint the location as the Old Folks' House — a jaw-dropping bit of location spotting, if you ask me.

"Foyer" area of the house, where the 1935 shoot takes place

The brief movie sequence essentially has two camera setups, one shooting west and one shooting south. Both setups were filmed in what I would call the "foyer" of the house, overlooking the Valley.

"The Outlaw Deputy": Rocky mound to the east of the Iverson Ranch

In a shot taken with the camera shooting to the east, we see a large rocky mound that today is located just east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Topanga would not be built through this area until the 1960s.

The same rocky mound, now located east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard

The rocky mound can still be found today, just across Topanga looking east from the former Iverson property.

Markers can be identified today that can also be seen in the movie. I've circled a number of rock clusters in this photo to facilitate matching them up against the background in the movie shot.

The same rock clusters are spotlighted here, with the outlines color-coded to match the recent shot above this one. The comparison is easier if you click on the photos to enlarge them.

Interesting rock seen with the camera shooting south

The property where the house once stood remains private and today is inaccessible. I hope to someday get a chance to track down the rock noted here, which I am almost certain would still be there.

The Old Folks' House in summer 2008

It's unclear whether the Old Folks' House had any full-time residents following the deaths of Karl and Augusta Iverson in the late 1940s. By the time I first came face to face with it in 2008 the place was all boarded up.

The boarded-up garage in 2008

After years of disuse, the Old Folks' House — aka the "House on the Hill" — became a hangout for kids hopping the fence from the nearby mobile home park.

Hangover Rock, which appeared frequently in productions, looms a short distance northwest of the house and garage.

Here's a better look at Hangover Rock in 2008, with a glimpse of the garage in the background. The African hut was a set for the NBC series "Heroes." (Click here to read more about the "Heroes" shoot.)

Remnants of the Old Folks' House after the 2008 Sesnon Fire

The Sesnon Fire, also known as the Porter Ranch Fire, ripped through the former Iverson Movie Ranch in fall 2008, destroying the Old Folks' House. I visited the site within weeks of the destruction and took pictures of the rubble.

After the fire: The "foyer"?

One part of the house that remained upright after the fire bears a resemblance to the "foyer" area used in "The Outlaw Deputy," although it does not appear to be correctly oriented. The design of the house included a number of arched entryways.

It's easy to miss the Chatsworth landmark Stoney Point, even though it looms large in the background. The shot is taken with the camera aimed toward the southeast.

Not surprisingly, the fireplace was also among the last features standing when the house burned down.

The foundation and fireplace in 2009

Not long after the fire the rubble was removed and the area was cleaned up. Even though this photo was taken in 2009, this is essentially what the foundation still looks like today.

Why "The Outlaw Deputy"?

The "Outlaw Deputy" shoot raises its share of questions. I can't help but wonder why, out of the thousands of productions filmed on their ranch, the Iversons opened their doors to an obscure Tim McCoy B-Western and then never repeated the gesture. I'd be interested to hear any theories.

I want to congratulate Tinsley E. Yarbrough on an amazing piece of detective work in spotting the "foyer" shoot, and would like to thank him again for all his great location research. Tinsley recently updated his seminal book "Those Great Western Movie Locations," which can be purchased through this previous blog post or by clicking on the Amazon icon below.


Scotty Rawson said...

You did it again

Brian Harrington said...

Well done, thank you so much for your efforts and continued efforts, I wonder if Tinsley would sign a book if I bought it and shipped it, or do you know if he has some that he can personalize and them mail to me for a fee?

Phil Bird said...

A wonderful post, sad to see the house ruined and desolate. It's funny to think of Ma and Pa Iverson just going about their daily business while film stars and crews are making movie history all the while in their back yard,

Anonymous said...

Another excellent post. Thank you for this interesting history.