Saddlehorn Relay Station looking south toward Garden of the Gods
Some of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Saddlehorn Relay Station, a heavily filmed movie set that stood north of the Garden of the Gods in Chatsworth, Calif., from about 1940-1970, have recently been solved.
a post you can read by clicking here — I raised a number of questions, chief among them being a familiar one: Which movie was it built for?
"Ghost Valley Raiders" (Republic, 1940)
Film historian Tinsley Yarbrough came up with what appears to be the answer to that question when he spotted the "Squaw Creek Relay Station" in the old Donald "Red" Barry B-Western "Ghost Valley Raiders."
"Squaw Creek Relay Station" in Iverson family photo (1939 or early 1940)
Some readers may recall from the earlier post that the "Squaw Creek Relay Station" turned up in an old Iverson family photo — and indications are that the building was newly minted at the time.
"Ghost Valley Raiders": Saddlehorn Relay Station as the "Squaw Creek Relay Station"
If "Ghost Valley Raiders" marks the first use of the relay station, the set would have been built by Republic Pictures — which makes sense given the studio's close relationship with the Iverson Ranch.
A steady flow of business from Republic, founded in 1935, was one of the reasons the Iverson family expanded the ranch in the mid- to late 1930s, acquiring land to the north that would become the Upper Iverson.
Original position of the relay station — west of Batman Rock in "Ghost Valley Raiders"
One of the big revelations from recent research into the Saddlehorn Relay Station is that the building had two different locations. When it was first built, it stood in close proximity to Batman Rock.
"Batman and Robin" (Columbia serial, 1949)
Batman Rock gets its name from Columbia's old "Batman" serials of the 1940s, where Batman — played back then by Robert Lowery — once struck a pose in front of the rock.
Batman Rock in modern times
Batman Rock remains in place today, just off Redmesa Road at Horizon Place in the Cal West Townhomes. Due to the growth of surrounding foliage, some of its old "Buffalo Nickel" aura has been stripped away.
The Relay Station in its later location
Within about a year of its construction, the Saddlehorn Relay Station — known simply as the "Two-Story House" at the time — was moved to a second location. Batman Rock does not appear in this photo, as the rock and the relay station are now some distance apart.
Saddlehorn Relay Station and the Saddlehorn area in 1952
Here's the layout of the Saddlehorn area, including the Saddlehorn Relay Station, as it appears in an aerial photograph from 1952 — one of the best overviews available from the filming period at Iverson.
The building's two locations: Where they would be in 2017 (Google aerial)
The positions noted on the 1952 aerial translate approximately to these two locations in the current landscape. The area was heavily graded when the Cal West Townhomes were built, so nothing from the old days lines up well with anything in the modern world.
Saddlehorn Rock in recent times, proving itself worthy of the name
Of all the rocks at Iverson that are named after real-world objects, this is one of them.
"Hands Across the Rockies" (Columbia, 1941): Saddlehorn Relay Station
The relay station did not stay long in its original location. By the time Columbia used it as a set for the Bill Elliott B-Western "Hands Across the Rockies" in 1941, the building had been moved to its "permanent" site.
1952 aerial map: Arrows show the orientation of the building's front face
The building was rotated about a quarter-turn when it was moved. In its original position the "front" faced northwest, as seen in red here, but after the move it faced northeast, as depicted in light blue.
"Hands Across the Rockies": The camera is shooting toward the west
The hills in the background confirm that the "Hands Across the Rockies" shot is taken with the camera shooting toward the west. The building has been moved to its permanent location, where the front now faces northeast.
Rare photo of the Saddlehorn Relay Station in its original location (1940)
It was Tinsley Yarbrough who first suggested, years ago, that the building had two different locations. It has been a hard theory to prove, but the above photo, whose origin is unclear, provides a number of clues.
Undated photo of the Saddlehorn Relay Station in its later position
Comparing the 1940 photo with this one taken later, also seen at the top of this post, we see overviews of the relay station in its two locations, including two different alignments with the Garden of the Gods.
Some readers may want to check out my previous post about the Saddlehorn Relay Station, from back in January — before some of the mysteries discussed here were solved. Please click here to see that post.
Can we talk about "the Mattress"?
I've also recently published a follow-up to this post that focuses on a feature appearing in this photo. You may have already noticed the unusual feature in the background, in front of the guy at the left of the frame.
you can read by clicking here.