"Bullet Code" (RKO, 1940): Iverson's Garden of the Gods
More than 1,000 B-Westerns were filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., from the silent movie era through the 1950s.
"Pioneer Days" (Monogram, 1940): Center Rock, on the Lower Iverson
In many cases the movie ranch's rock features, Western street and other movie sets were incorporated into promotional stills, movie posters and lobby cards.
"Red River Valley" (Republic, 1941): Horses and cars mix it up on the Upper Iverson
A number of the the lobby cards featured here come from the amazing collection of longtime Western movie location historian Jerry England.
"Raiders of the South" (Monogram, 1947): Johnny Mack Brown on the Lower Iverson
Many of the lobby cards are colorized, but in this case someone made the odd decision to go with two-tone rocks. Just to be clear, in the real world all of these rocks are more or less the same color — sort of a toned-down version of the weird rust color seen here.
You should be able to click on any of these photos to see a larger version.
"Escort West," starring Victor Mature and Elaine Stewart, might be called a "B+" Western, with a bigger budget and, at 75 minutes, a longer running time than most. It also came out a bit after the heyday of the B-Western.
The Iverson family charged by the head, so this scene filmed on the Upper Iverson would have been a fairly expensive shoot — especially considering Republic's notoriously tight budgets.
Another sizable gathering of horses on the Upper Iverson, and another colorization misfire. The unnatural "golden" stallion of the title is one thing, but green horses?
If anyone can explain why they used so much yellow in these old lobby cards, I'd be interested to find out.
"Old Oklahoma Plains" (Republic, 1952): Upper Iverson, with the Molar visible at top right
Rex Allen, "the Arizona Cowboy," rides Koko, "the Miracle Horse of the Movies," and in the pitch room someone says, "We don't want to make the photo too big, so let's put a massive yellow border around it!"
"El Paso" was a relatively big-budget Western for its day — but that didn't keep them from going for another yellow ("-ish") lobby card. The scene takes place on the Lower Iverson, with Cactus Hill visible in the background.
Visible in the top right corner is a small section of the Santa Susana Mountains, west of the Iverson Ranch.
Here's a nice action shot taken on the Upper Iverson — the old bulldog move — with Prominent Rock visible at the right of the frame — and a rare exception to the "yellow lobby card" rule.
The rock feature known as the Slates, on the Upper Iverson's South Rim, can be seen behind Gabby Hayes.
Many readers will recognize the Garden of the Gods features in the background — Tower Rock to the left of Fuzzy and the Sphinx behind Lash.
The adobe village that stood in the Iverson Gorge in the 1940s and early 1950s was featured in a series of PRC and Western Adventure B-Westerns, with Lash LaRue among those who got to play cowboy on the set.
The Gorge Adobes turn up again in this lobby card for the Whip Wilson B-Western "Arizona Territory." The small photo in the bottom left corner offers a wider view of the adobe village.
Gene Autry and his protege, future TV "Annie Oakley" Gail Davis, ride the Upper Iverson in this lobby card for "Sons of New Mexico." Typically, Autry's horse, Champion, got billing on the card even though Davis didn't.
We get a more sweeping view of the Upper Iverson in this shot for "The Texan Meets Calamity Jane" — a color Iverson spectacle that's also known as "Calamity Jane and the Texan."
Cool shot of the Western street on the Iverson Ranch, but it might have been better in "glorious" black and white.
More cool rocks — and more yellow — courtesy of Hopalong Cassidy. I broke down what's going on in this lobby card a while back, and you can see that post by clicking here.
Back to the Three Mesquiteers for a fistfight overlooking the Upper Iverson.
One of the most colorful of the many stage holdups that took place on the Iverson Ranch.
That's Randolph Scott in the yellow shirt — yes, yellow again — near the center of the frame.
Another not exactly well-colorized version of the Iverson Western street, along with more yellow — and faded yellow, at that — than we should be expected to tolerate.
Hey look — it's Grumpy! (The rock just to the left of the riders.)
Buster Crabbe — in the yellow shirt — shows a bad guy the ropes under the watchful eye of Prominent Rock.
"The Wild Westerners" came out well after the B-Western had largely faded from view, but Columbia was one of the last studios to give up on the formula.