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

Monday, June 27, 2016

An old forgotten movie road is discovered on the Upper Iverson

Old movie road on the Upper Iverson — bottom left corner

Iverson explorer Cliff Roberts tipped me off recently that he spotted what appeared to be an old abandoned movie road during a visit to the former Upper Iverson Movie Ranch.

A row of stone buttressing, now largely hidden in dry grass, marks the base of the road, which works its way south up Cactus Hill — toward the right in this photo.

The road is mostly overgrown now, but much of the buttressing remains intact.

The road is located on the Upper Iverson's Southwest Rim and extends up Cactus Hill from the hill's north side.

The buttressing is impressive, continuing up the hill along the northwest edge of the road. The road has been documented previously, but has remained relatively obscure. This was my first time exploring it.

This recent Google aerial shows approximately where the stone buttressing is located. The buttressed section of road runs along the foot of a large rock feature widely known as Prominent Rock.

Comparing the recent aerial view with a shot of the same area from 1952, we can see that the movie road had a substantial footprint back in the filming era. (The next photo pinpoints the footprint.)

This version of the 1952 aerial delineates the route followed by the movie road. The southern end of the road connected with the main road that traverses the top of Cactus Hill.

The "footprint" seen in 1952 no longer exists. The main road has been widened to provide access to the water tanks, and other smaller roads also remain in place, but the buttressed movie road has been overtaken by foliage.

Back at ground level, Cliff walks ahead on the road, heading southwest

While we're not the first location enthusiasts to find our way to the road, it has been lying dormant in recent years and remains one of the Upper Iverson's well-kept secrets.

The buttressing area is sheltered by trees and remains green, even after years of drought. The terrain around the road is quite scenic in spots, but be warned that poison oak is rampant in the area.

Here's another shot of the buttressing, this time looking northeast toward the base of the road. The road was first noted by location researcher Tinsley E. Yarbrough in "Those Great Western Movie Locations," published in 2008.

The road rises as it works its way south; this shot from ground level includes an elevated section of buttressing in the left half of the frame. As it continues south, the road passes behind the bulbous rock feature on the right.

The buttressing is identified here, along with the bulbous rock, which some readers may recognize from the backgrounds of Western chase sequences. I call the rock "Bignose," for lack of a better word.

This unusual "character," which is part of the buttressing, reminds me of a toadstool. As the buttressing is manmade, I can't help wondering whether somebody realized what they were creating when they set this up.

Farther up the hill, the road becomes virtually impassable.

The rugged area near the top of the road is dominated by sagebrush and other vegetation, punctuated by dynamic sandstone formations.

I inadvertently spooked a mother bird in her nest as I tromped past, leaving me face to face with her frightened chicks after the mom flew the coop. The area doesn't get much foot traffic.

"Lawless Cowboys" (1951): Whip Wilson on the buttressed road

The most extensive filming on the old road appears to have taken place near the base of the road — the buttressed section — as in this example from the Monogram B-Western "Lawless Cowboys."

This shot taken on a recent expedition shows the same stretch of road.

I've identified a couple of rock features here that can also be seen in the Whip Wilson screen shot.

Here's the "Lawless Cowboys" shot again, with rocks "A" and "B" noted. 

This shot provides a closer look at rock "B." The sharp angle at the top of it makes it readily identifiable.

Notice the tree identified here, which is located next to rock B.

The tree is gone now, but its stump remains.

Here's a closeup of the stump, revealing that it has a wire tied around it. I don't know what that's about, but would be interested in hearing any theories.

"Lawless Cowboys": Whip Wilson rides northeast from the buttressed road

A wide shot from "Lawless Cowboys" shows the area on the Upper Iverson's Southwest Rim where the north end of the buttressed road empties out onto the flatland.

A number of features can be identified in the "Lawless Cowboys" shot. Some of these features will be familiar to veteran Iverson Movie Ranch watchers.

Notice the rock feature highlighted here. This small rock wall is positioned near the base of the buttressed road.

The small rock wall remains in place today, as seen in this photo from our recent visit.

I tried to get a shot capturing the juxtaposition of Round Rock and the small rock wall, similar to the "Lawless Cowboys" shot, but the tree near Round Rock has grown so big that it blocks the view of the rock from this angle.

"Leadville Gunslinger" (Allan "Rocky" Lane, 1952)

Tinsley Yarbrough notes in "Those Great Western Movie Locations" that Rocky Lane traveled the road in "Leadville Gunslinger." The above shot from the movie was filmed about halfway up the road.

"Leadville Gunslinger": The view from the road

The crew filming "Leadville Gunslinger" also turned the camera in the other direction, giving us this view from the road looking north over a portion of the Upper Iverson.

"Gold Raiders" (Three Stooges, 1951)

The buttressing near the bottom section of the road can be spotted occasionally in backgrounds, as in the Three Stooges movie "Gold Raiders."

The "Gold Raiders" shot illustrates the road's position between Prominent Rock and the small rock wall.

"Adventures of Spin and Marty" (1955): Stone buttressing on the Lower Iverson

Stone buttressing has survived in a number of locations on the former Iverson Ranch. The best-known example is found along the "Steep Canyon Road" that runs through the Gorge below Nyoka Cliff.

Promo still for "Pack Train" (1953) — photo from the Jerry England collection

A classic shot of this buttressing on the Lower Iverson appears in a promotional still for the Gene Autry movie "Pack Train." This is essentially the same section seen in the shot from "Spin and Marty."

Lower Nyoka Cliff and the Steep Canyon Road in 2014

The buttressing seen in "Spin and Marty" and "Pack Train" has deteriorated significantly since the filming era, but remains somewhat intact.

This shot points out the portion of the stone buttressing that appears in the movie and TV shots above.

A number of other sections of the buttressing along the Steep Canyon Road have also survived.

An especially well-preserved section of buttressing is found higher up in the Gorge, below Lone Ranger Rock.

The Steep Canyon Road is also known as the stagecoach road, although that name has led to the mistaken belief that it was an actual stagecoach road, an issue I talked about in an earlier post that you can click here to read.

Above is a link to a nine-movie DVD set that includes "Lawless Cowboys" and a number of other cool Iverson movies in terrific picture quality, in case you might be into that sort of thing — mostly Whip Wilson and Johnny Mack Brown B-Westerns, along with a couple of non-Iverson Jimmy Wakely movies.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Joe Iverson's butterflies and big game trophies turn up in "Death by Dialogue"

"Death by Dialogue," a low-budget horror flick that went straight-to-VHS back in 1988, had one of the most intriguing location shoots ever done on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

"Death by Dialogue" (1988) — Inside Joe Iverson's trophy room

The unusual shoot for the movie takes viewers inside the home of Joe Iverson, who oversaw filming on the ranch for more than half a century.

One of Joe Iverson's hunting trophies, in "Death by Dialogue"

Joe ran the Lower Iverson from the 1920s into the 1970s, and for years oversaw both the Lower and Upper ranches. He was an avid big game hunter, and "Death by Dialogue," which features a taxidermist as one of its main characters, works Joe's prize collection of hunting trophies into the storyline.

A character in the movie examines part of Joe Iverson's butterfly collection

A number of Joe Iverson's hobbies turn up in the movie. A man of diverse interests, Iverson turned much of his home into a museum, housing his collections of butterflies, gemstones, rocks and artifacts.

Iverson's hobbies are deeply interwoven into the plot of "Death by Dialogue." The above shot, looking through the horns of one of his hunting trophies, displays part of his extensive collection of precious stones.

Laura Albert is drawn to something in the Joe Iverson collection

Early scenes in "Death by Dialogue" depict the movie's five young protagonists being dazzled by Joe's collection.

And a dazzling collection it is. Here we see a panel highlighted by a variety of blue butterflies.

The blue butterflies are just a small part of a massive collection. Kelly Sullivan, who plays Shelly in the movie, is seen here with a portion of the butterfly display.

The scale of Iverson's collection of hunting trophies, like that of many of his passions, was enormous, although only a fraction of the collection found its way into the movie.

Joe Iverson's rock collection, in "Death by Dialogue"

Joe reportedly owned part of an opal mine in Australia, which was a source of items in his collection of opals, minerals and other precious stones.

Theodore Lehmann as Uncle Ive

In the movie the collection belongs to "Uncle Ive," played by veteran actor Theodore Lehmann. Although Uncle Ive is confined to a wheelchair, the mysterious collector, taxidermist and world traveler has more than a few things in common with Joe Iverson. My personal feeling is that "Uncle Ive" is based in part on Joe Iverson.

Front yard of the Iverson home, in "Death by Dialogue"

In addition to taking viewers on a tour of Joe Iverson's museum, "Death by Dialogue" ventures outside the home for rare shots of rocks, trees and other features of the front yard, many of which remain in place today.

Laura Albert at the pond near the Iverson house

The movie also captures a portion of the pond that once was part of the home's front yard.

Cast members, left to right: Ken Sagoes, Jude Gerard Prest,
Laura Albert, Kelly Sullivan and Lenny Delducca

Several of the main cast members of "Death by Dialogue" went on to successful careers in the entertainment business.

Laura Albert, who plays Linda in the movie, had a series of acting roles before moving into a career as a performance driver, stunt performer and stunt coordinator. She continues to find steady work, with recent stunt credits on "Grey's Anatomy," "Shameless" and a number of other productions.

Ken Sagoes as Lenny in "Death by Dialogue"

Ken Sagoes has worked as an actor, writer and director. Around the time of "Death by Dialogue" he had a run as Darryl on "What's Happening Now" and appearances as Kincaid in some of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.

Jude Gerard Prest, as Gene

Jude Gerard Prest has focused mainly on producing TV programming in recent years, including a long run as a director and supervising producer on the Saturday-morning nature show "Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin."

"Death by Dialogue" serves as a reminder that filming did not end on the movie ranch when the era of B-Westerns and early TV Westerns ended. After Bob Sherman took over running the ranch in the early 1980s, it remained a working movie ranch for the better part of the next two decades.

Joe Iverson, left, and Bob Sherman, ca. 1983

Joe was no longer around by the time "Death by Dialogue" filmed in the house where he had lived for decades. Before Joe died in 1986, he sold the house to Sherman, along with turning over operation of the movie ranch to Sherman. Sherman maintained both the ranch and Joe's collections into the late 1990s.

"Motorcycle Cheerleading Mammas" (1997)
Directed by Bob Sherman and filmed at Iverson

Sherman, the great-nephew of Joe's second wife, Iva Iverson, had been hanging around the movie ranch off and on since he was a kid. Years after taking over the ranch, he tried his hand at directing with the rarely seen "Motorcycle Cheerleading Mammas."

"Xtro 3: Watch the Skies" (1995) — sci-fi movie filmed on the Iverson Ranch

Meanwhile, the Iverson Ranch, which barely saw any filming in the 1970s, made a bit of a comeback on Sherman's watch in the 1980s and 1990s. However, filming activity during this period has gone largely undocumented.

"Blade Boxer" (1997) — filmed on the Iverson Ranch

The low-budget sci-fi and horror productions, martial arts movies and straight-to-video exploitation flicks filmed on the ranch in the Bob Sherman era continued a tradition of shoestring production at Iverson established decades earlier, when Poverty Row studios flocked to the location ranch to film B-Westerns in the '30s and '40s.

Research into the movie ranch's intriguing and still largely undocumented later years is ongoing. Please comment below or email me ( if you know of any productions filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch from the 1970s on that may have slipped under the radar.

I wouldn't call "Death by Dialogue" Oscar-caliber entertainment by any stretch, but it's a fascinating movie from a location standpoint. The DVD is sold on Amazon, and you can order it by clicking on the image below ...