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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• 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).
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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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I was wondering if you had any details on the ruins that are located on Johnson Motorway. East side of the road a little less than halfway up the mountain. Appears to be a multilevel foundation. Hiked there many times and cannot find any info about it online.

Thanks- Daniel