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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• 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.
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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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Friday, June 24, 2011

Mysterious ruins found on the Iverson Movie Ranch

A portion of the Lower Iverson Movie Ranch, photographed in 2008

Soon after I began exploring the Iverson Movie Ranch several years ago, I ran across an intriguing bit of crumbling stone, brick and tile that I came to know simply as the Ruins. It's a relatively small and unimposing bit of construction by Iverson standards, but it captured my imagination nonetheless. The above photo contains a view of much of the Ruins, along with the impressive rock that was its main neighbor, which I call Hangdog.

(You may want to click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Besides the Ruins at the right and the multifaceted Hangdog on the left, the photo shows a portion of the Old Folks House (sometimes called simply the House), along with some San Fernando Valley development in the background at top right. Also visible in the distance, at top left, is part of Oat Mountain, which is often seen in the movies in the background of chases and other footage shot at Iverson. Directly above Hangdog — which appears in countless movies, by the way (more about that here) — are a number of other rocks that also make appearances in many productions.

The Ruins — detail of brick and stone construction

In this shot you can see a little bit of Hangdog — its "eyebrow and eyelid," if you will — peering out over a portion of the Ruins. I've heard various rumors about the Ruins since the initial discovery, but not much in the way of concrete information. The consensus is it was probably NOT built for the movies, which is in contrast to almost all other construction on the Iverson Movie Ranch. I've never seen it in any productions, although I continue to look for it.

The Ruins looking south, with Woolly Mammoth (aka Vultura's Trail Rock) in the background

In this view of the Ruins, Woolly Mammoth, or Vultura's Trail Rock, can be seen in the background. (The "Woolly Mammoth" name comes from the rock's appearance from a different angle than the one seen here. You'll find it here.) From this angle the rock has been described as looking like a saddlehorn (not to be confused with Saddlehorn Rock, which can be seen here).

Here's a firepit that was found inside the area of the ruins — a discovery that supports one of the theories about the Ruins, that they may have been a sort of patio and barbecue area associated with the Old Folks' House. I generally consider the construction of the Ruins to be associated with the Old Folks' House — a residence on the Lower Iverson that is believed to have been built in about 1928 and stood until the Porter Ranch Fire (also known as the Sesnon Fire) swept through parts of Iverson in October 2008.

Road past the Ruins — one of the few "paved" roads on the Iverson Ranch 
(Woolly Mammoth/Vultura's Trail Rock in background)

The House, which was generally not considered to be part of film productions other than very occasionally and tangentially, is gone now, having been destroyed by that fire. For the last many years of its life, it was not lived in, and by the end it was pretty decayed. Not long after the house burned down — but unrelated to the fire, as far as I know — someone also decided to tear down what was left of the Ruins.

Fortunately, I got photos of both the Ruins and the House before it was too late. I'll talk about the House in another entry. Suffice for now to say that the House, or Old Folks House, was built for the original Iverson couple, Karl and Augusta, to spend their golden years. It was later occupied by their son Joe, who ran the Lower Iverson through much of the peak filming period of the 1930s through 1950s. I figure at some point whoever was living in the House, probably Joe, decided to build the odd structure for some reason — maybe just as a barbecue area. Then again, maybe it was built for a movie that hasn't turned up yet.

Here's another portion of the Ruins that shows some of the tile work. This looks as though it would have ended up being where everyone sat, but whether it was built with that in mind, who knows?

Hangdog rises over the Ruins — the top of Bill Rock can be seen toward the left

The ruins were located in something of a "famous" area for fans of the old Republic serials, as they were right near where the fake front stood for Vultura's Palace (also known as Vultura's Temple) in the landmark 1942 serial The Perils of Nyoka (which is a landmark not only because it is considered one of the best Republic serials, but also, for location aficionados, it's an orgy of Iverson sightings from start to finish). You can find more about Vultura's Palace here, and more about the rock I call Hangdog, which connects the Vultura's Palace front with the Ruins (but not at the same time — the Ruins were not built yet when Perils was shot), here.

If anyone has additional insights into the Ruins, I would love to hear from you. Either way, I hope you'll leave a comment! Thanks.
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