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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ward Bond, "Wagon Train" and the hidden secrets of the hills above the Upper Iverson

Ward Bond rides the Upper Iverson in "Wagon Train"

I spotted an interesting sequence near the end of "The Tent City Story," an episode of the long-running TV Western "Wagon Train" that first aired Dec. 10, 1958.

The sequence features Ward Bond, who was the wagonmaster and the series star during "Wagon Train's" first four seasons. In the sequence, Bond was filmed on the Upper Iverson Movie Ranch.

The location might have escaped notice had it not been for this glimpse of a stand of Douglas fir trees in the background. Luckily, the camera drifted just high enough to catch a portion of the stand of trees.

"Radar Men From the Moon" (Republic serial, 1952)

The triangular stand of fir trees, which resembles a "brand" on Oat Mountain, is located northeast of the Upper Iverson. It turns up repeatedly throughout the filming era, as in this promo still from the Jerry England collection.

The promo shot for the Republic serial "Radar Men From the Moon" uses special effects to superimpose a model rocket ship over the Upper Iverson, with Oat Mountain and the fir trees visible in the background.

"Radar Men From the Moon"

Other shots in "Radar Men From the Moon" were filmed on the ground on the Iverson Ranch. This shot, which includes a large prop version of the rocket ship, offers another look at the Douglas fir trees.

The scene was filmed on the Upper Iverson's South Rim, with the camera aimed northeast. The triangular stand of trees is noted here.

A portion of Oat Mountain, with the ancient stand of fir trees, in 2016

The stand of Douglas firs remains in place today, as seen in this shot taken on a recent visit to the site. The Douglas fir commonly lives to be 500 years old, and can reportedly live as long as 1,000 years.
When I first began noticing the stand of trees in productions, I did not know what it was. Needing a way to identify it, I settled on calling the dark triangular shape the "Triangle Brand."

The Triangle Brand turned up on the cover of a comic book featuring the "Arizona Cowboy," Rex Allen. I blogged about Rex, his TV show "Frontier Doctor" and his comic books in 2014, and you can click here to read that post.

"Border Corsairs" — an episode of the TV series "Adventures of Kit Carson"

Another interesting sighting of the Triangle Brand appears in an episode of "Adventures of Kit Carson" filmed in 1951, where the shot is horizontally flipped. Click here to read my 2009 blog post about this shot.

Jean Willes in "Wanted — Dead or Alive"

Here's a shot from the TV series "Wanted — Dead or Alive" that again shows the triangle of Douglas fir trees. The shot comes from the episode "Eager Man," which first aired Feb. 28, 1959.

Actress Jean Willes is seen on the Upper Iverson, with the house that was part of the Fury Set visible at the left of the frame. Along with the fir trees, I've also noted a "tiny cowboy" who's riding up to join the action.

"Wagon Train"

Getting back to the "Wagon Train" episode, as the sequence plays out, Ward Bond turns to order the wagon train to move out, and the action heads west — to the left of the screen.

As the camera pans left we see more hills to the north of the Upper Iverson, which are relatively nondescript. Without the Triangle Brand it would have been easy to miss that the scene was filmed at Iverson.

"Go West, Young Lady" (Glenn Ford, 1941)

While it can be a challenge to identify the hills north and northwest of the Upper Iverson, it's not impossible. A few landmarks in this screen shot from Columbia's "Go West, Young Lady" match the "Wagon Train" sequence.

Notice the hills marked "A" and "B" in the "Go West, Young Lady" screen shot.

The same hills are seen in the "Wagon Train" sequence, as noted here. The hills are separated here because the scene is filmed from northwest of where "Go West, Young Lady" was shot.

The "Go West, Young Lady" shot is pinpointed by another landmark — a road heading up the hill above the northwest corner of the Upper Iverson. This road, which I've referred to in my research as the "Road Up the Hill," does not appear in the "Wagon Train" episode. Today the road is known as the Johnson Motorway.

Johnson Motorway, sometimes called Johnson Mountain Way, is highlighted in this recent Google aerial view of a portion of the Iverson and Brandeis movie ranches in the northwest San Fernando Valley. For more about the Johnson Motorway, aka the "Road Up the Hill," please click here to read an earlier blog item about it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Joe Iverson had what may be the greatest tractor I've ever seen

Joe Iverson and his incredible tractor

Before the Iverson family became full-time movie location operators, they were farmers. Even after the location business started to take off, they kept various farming operations going — and they had this amazing tractor.

Field hands display the Iversons' potato crop in the early farming years

The rugged terrain that would become the Iverson Movie Ranch wasn't particularly fertile, especially with all those rocks. So the Iversons also farmed down in the flatlands, where it's said they produced one of the best potato crops in the San Fernando Valley.

Early watermelon crop on the Iverson farm

The family also farmed watermelon, among other crops. And they had at least a couple of tractors. The one seen here on the left is a Fordson, which was the nameplate Henry Ford set up when he went into producing tractors back in 1917. (The brand name was a contracted form of "Ford and Son.")

The Iversons' Fordson tractor (photo from 1930)

Here's a good look at the old Fordson. It's unclear who the woman is who's showing off the machine.

I'd say the old Fordson was about a 1928, though I'm hardly an expert on vintage tractors. Note the hand crank — you don't just stick the key in one of these babies and expect it to fire right up.

Iva Iverson and guest with the grader (photo circa 1951)

Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of photos of Joe's other tractor — which it might be more accurate to call a grader, or even a crawler. This is one of only two photos of it that I've seen. Joe's second wife, Iva, is on the left, framed by the machine's steering wheel and grader blade controls.

Wider shot of Joe on his crawler/grader

The photo at the top of this post was cropped from this wider shot. The big reveal here — and my other favorite thing about the picture, besides the grader itself — is the guy standing in the field with a rifle.

My guess is the guy with the rifle is Joe's brother Aaron, who had the farm next to Joe's. Not sure what he was doing out there, but he may have been fixin' to shoot critters that tried to scamper off when they saw Joe coming.

Joe hauls rocks in the Gorge (circa early 1930s)

When the farm transitioned into a full-time movie ranch, the heavy machinery still had work to do. Here's Joe using one of his tractors — I think it's the old Fordson — to haul rocks as he puts in a road through the Gorge, probably in the early 1930s. Nyoka Cliff looms in the background.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Video: Gene Autry tries to cheer up Gail Davis after she falls in mud at the Middle Iverson Ranch Set

Gene Autry spent some time on the Iverson Ranch in early 1950 working on the movie "Cow Town," and while he was there he tried to woo Gail Davis by singing "Powder Your Face With Sunshine."

Check it out ...