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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rocks that look like elephants

Elephant Rock, on the Lower Iverson

It's been a while since I rounded up the herd of elephants, elephant parts and other pachydermalia found on the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch. This beauty is located in the Grove, on the former Lower Iverson.

Elephant and Monkey

A wider shot reveals that the Elephant has what looks like an oversized monkeyhead on its back.

Elephant's Trunk

Should you ever sojourn deep into Garden of the Gods, you might run across this oddity, which I think bears a striking resemblance to an Elephant's Trunk.

Woolly Mammoth — aka Vultura's Trail Rock

The most high-profile pachyderm-related rock feature at Iverson would have to be Woolly Mammoth, which is more properly known as Vultura's Trail Rock.

Woolly mammoth (artist's rendering)

The relationship between the prehistoric woolly mammoth and the contemporary elephant — particularly the Asian elephant — is well-established. As for the relationship between the rock I call Woolly Mammoth and the prehistoric creature ... you be the judge. The original woolly mammoth would probably sneer at the rock version's puny hump ... but the fact that they both HAVE humps in the same place strikes me as noteworthy.

"Heroes" (NBC TV series, 2008) — Woolly Mammoth with a rock painting

Woolly Mammoth, or Vultura's Trail Rock, has had countless appearances in movies and TV shows. It's usually seen from another angle — where it looks nothing like a woolly mammoth — but when NBC landed at Iverson in 2008 for the TV show "Heroes," the show captured what I think is the essence of the rock.

Woolly Mammoth just after the "Heroes" shoot (2008)

Shortly after the "Heroes" production team pulled out of Iverson in late summer 2008, Woolly Mammoth still bore what appeared to be a temporary "scar" from the production. Like other rocks in the area, Woolly Mammoth served as a storyboard on the TV show, providing a backdrop for rock paintings depicting the future. It appeared that a little bit of that paint was overlooked during the cleanup.

In the "Heroes" screen shot we can make out the exact spot on Woolly Mammoth where the small triangular patch of white paint originated.

Woolly Mammoth in 2015: The same patch of white paint remains

I assumed at the time that the paint was water soluble and would soon wash away. However, going on seven years later, that white spot remains visible on the rock today. My hunch is still that it's just a spot they missed when they were cleaning up, but I'm amazed that it has lasted this long.

Woolly Mammoth looks less mammoth-like from the other side, but this shot, looking toward the east, provides some context. That's Topanga Canyon Boulevard in the background, with the ridgetop homes of Porter Ranch and a small section of the 118 Freeway visible at top left.

"Rocky Mountain Rangers" (1940): Hangdog, foreground, with Woolly Mammoth

By far the most common angle depicting Woolly Mammoth in the movies is this one, as seen in the Three Mesquiteers B-Western "Rocky Mountain Rangers," an Iverson masterpiece from Republic.

Woolly Mammoth — which has been described as resembling a saddlehorn from this angle — almost always takes a back seat to its higher-profile neighbor Hangdog. Click here to read more about the enigmatic Hangdog.

Woolly Mammoth in 2008, with nearby ruins

Up until a few years ago, Woolly Mammoth could be seen with some ruins nearby. You can read more about these mysterious ruins in this earlier post.

"Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932)

It's worth noting that at one time real elephants roamed the Iverson Movie Ranch. In the final sequence from "Tarzan the Ape Man," shown above, Jane and others rode a live elephant through the Iverson Gorge.

Elephant rock on the Island of Heimaey in Iceland

Iverson doesn't have a monopoly on rocks that look like elephants. In fact, it turns out that elephants are a relatively widespread theme in the "rocks that look like other stuff" universe. Here are a few examples ...

Sardinia, Italy 

The locals report that this elephant rock on Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, was shaped by wind, and I have no reason to disagree.

New Zealand 

I like the mossy-looking foliage effect on this one.

Saudi Arabia 

Here's another variation on the fat-trunked elephant theme — this one is starting to grow on me.

City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho 

I don't think this rock looks particularly elephant-like, but I had to include it for the obvious reason: It has a sign. Does it reflect poorly on me that this picture makes me want to block the gate?

Point Reyes, Calif. 

I've driven past this thing countless times without ever noticing its elephantine qualities. Thank you for the reality check, Internet!

Washoe County, Nevada 

For some reason I find myself feeling sorry for this one.

Prince Edward Island, Canada

No reason to feel sorry for this character, with plenty of water and fresh air to be found ... although living in a world with a skewed horizon line might get old after a while.

Island of Heimaey, Iceland 

This is the second photo I'm including of the elephant rock in Iceland. This thing looks great from any angle.

Old Hartlepool, England 

The elephant rock in Old Hartlepool was washed away in a storm in 1891, but at least it was around long enough to be immortalized in an old colorized postcard.

This post marks the launch of "Rocks that look like ..." — an occasional series that, needless to say, focuses on rocks that look like other stuff. I anticipate that the series will maintain a connection to the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., where plenty of rocks can be found that look like other stuff.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thank you! That was fun.