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 iversonmovieranch@gmail.com 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 iversonmovieranch@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Has anyone seen the "Squaw Creek Relay Station" in a movie?

Saddlehorn Relay Station, 1940 (see below, the last three photos of this post, for an update)

This behind-the-scenes photo surfaced recently showing the building known as the Saddlehorn Relay Station. Believed to be from 1940, the photo may hold a clue to the structure's origin.

The building has a sign on it declaring it to be the Squaw Creek Relay Station. The man at the left is probably a crew member on the (previously) unknown production.

A zoomed-in version of the shot offers a better look at the sign, although a cowboy's black hat blocks part of the word "Station."

The relay station was located on the Lower Iverson, north of Garden of the Gods. This early version of the structure includes a section that was later replaced with a second-story "deck," or porch.

"Ride 'em Cowboy" (Abbott and Costello, 1942)

The Abbott and Costello movie "Ride 'em Cowboy," an early 1942 release that was filmed in 1941, includes this shot of the building with that same early section in place.

The part of the building that would later be replaced is highlighted here. With that early piece in place, this corner of the building resembles a barn.

"Ride 'em Cowboy"

A similar piece could also be found at the opposite end of the building — on its northwest face. Again, this was in 1941, in the building's early years, and it would soon undergo remodeling.

"The Avenging Rider" (RKO, 1943)

By the time the Tim Holt movie "Avenging Rider" filmed at the site in 1943, the relay station had been renovated and its new second-story porch, or deck, was in place.

"Black Bart" (Universal-International, 1948)

This shot from the Yvonne De Carlo-Dan Duryea Western "Black Bart" provides a nice look at the relay station in color, including the porch area at top left.

"Gun Fever" (United Artists, 1958)

Pardon the massacre, but we get another look at the second-story deck in the 1958 Western "Gun Fever." The set was frequently redecorated, and at this point it sported a more "bare bones" look.

"Gun Fever"

In particular, the railing on the deck is more sparse in "Gun Fever" than it was in "Black Bart" about 10 years earlier. The building itself includes a crude sign identifying it as the "Rand Station."

"Heldorado" (Republic, 1946)

Remodeling at the northwest end of the relay station was perhaps even more extensive, if less aesthetic, as seen in this shot from the Roy Rogers movie "Heldorado."

The earlier small single-story section with the angled roof was replaced by a boxy expansion that turned this part of the relay station into something of a behemoth.

"The Stranger From Pecos" (Monogram, 1943)

The relay station was one of the most important and most durable sets on the Iverson Movie Ranch, standing for about three decades and appearing in many productions.

You may have noticed a kind of low-key bull's-eye on the roof of the relay station in "The Stranger From Pecos," which I figured must have been left over from some other movie or serial.

"Captain Midnight" (Columbia serial, 1942)

Sure enough, film historian Tinsley Yarbrough, who has a much better memory for these things than I do, pointed out that the bull's-eye was part of the plot of the serial "Captain Midnight," one year earlier.

"Escort West" (1959): Saddlehorn Village

In the late '50s and throughout the '60s the Saddlehorn Relay Station set was complemented by a small cluster of buildings adjacent to the main building, which I call "Saddlehorn Village."

The "village" appeared in a handful of movies and TV shows. Click here to see pictures of the set's appearances in "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke," and here for more about its role in "Escort West."

Former location of Saddlehorn Relay Station (Google aerial)

This recent Google aerial indicates the spot where the relay station once stood. The set is believed to have burned down in the fall 1970 wildfires, and today the site is filled with condos.

When I first put up this post, I mentioned that I was hoping to find the movie where the building appears as the "Squaw Creek Relay Station." I was looking for a Western from the early '40s set in a place called Squaw Creek.

Screen shot from "Ghost Valley Raiders" (1940)

It turns out the movie was the old Republic Western "Ghost Valley Raiders," starring Donald "Red" Barry. As is often the case, it was Tinsley Yarbrough who again pointed me in the right direction. Thanks, Tinsley!

"Ghost Valley Raiders"

The revelation suggests that it was Republic that built the relay station, and the movie contains additional clues to the early history of the structure. I'll be delving into those in depth in a follow-up report on the relay station.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Domed building from the silent era in the Iverson Gorge, seen in "Noah's Ark" in 1928

"Noah's Ark" (1928) — the Iverson Gorge in Chatsworth, Calif.

A small structure that turns up briefly in the silent feature "Noah's Ark" can be placed in the Upper Gorge on the old Iverson Movie Ranch.

The landmark movie was produced and written by pioneer Hollywood studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Michael Curtiz. Everyone involved would become legendary.

"Noah's Ark" — image of the giant Ark grounded atop the Garden of the Gods

The movie is famous for this shot, which also utilizes rock features on the Iverson Ranch — except that here they're used as part of a special effect.

Rocks that remain in place today pinpoint the location of the domed building, which can be seen in the background at right.

The building is almost hidden behind foliage, carefully placed so as to complement the set.

"Noah's Ark": The domed building

The focus is soft on the print these scren shots came from, but at least the camera moves in for this shot of the building. This is about all we see of it.

"The King of Kings" (Cecil B. DeMille, 1927)

I recently spotted a similar building in DeMille's "The King of Kings," but this one appears to be near the beach — and it's not an exact match for the "Noah's Ark" set.

The "Noah's Ark" set (Joe Iverson collection) — circa 1928

An old Iverson family photo of the "Noah's Ark" set turned up in Joe Iverson's photos. Thanks to this shot we finally get a good look at the old silent movie set.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hey, wow! It's the Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle!

Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle

Someone surprised me this Christmas with a fun present: an Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle.

My first reaction was, "Wait a minute — how can this be?!!?" ... followed by: "Who has time to do jigsaw puzzles?" 

But I did find time, and by the time I had most of the "edge" pieces in place, I was hooked.

The puzzle contains an aerial view of a sizable patch of northwest Chatsworth, Calif., covering most of the Iverson Ranch along with neighboring terrain.

It's a familiar Google image that I go to all the time when I'm doing research.

Here the 118 Freeway, running horizontally across the center of the frame, begins to take shape. The white roofs near the center are the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

The red roofs above the mobile home park make up a condo community on the former site of the Middle Iverson Ranch Set and its surroundings, which were part of the Upper Iverson.

The freeway today divides the land in much the same way the ranch was divvied up back when it was the Upper Iverson above, run by Aaron Iverson, and the Lower Iverson below, run by his brother Joe.

To the left of the white roofs of the mobile home park are the lighter reddish roofs of the Cal West Townhomes, the sprawling condos that occupy the Upper Gorge and surround the Garden of the Gods.

Manmade structures are easier to line up than rocks and trees — making this probably the first time I've been glad the condos and other junk were there ... strictly from the standpoint of furthering the puzzle.

The puzzle turned out to be a blast to do — a challenge that took up the bulk of my spare time over a span of about three days ... while I also held down my day job.

At this point the section of estates in the top left corner — the former Upper Iverson and Brandeis Ranch — is almost complete.

Familiarity with the layout proved useful in doing the puzzle. At the same time, I couldn't help but enhance my understanding of the lay of the land.

A 400-piece puzzle might be a breeze to a "jigsaw master," which I am definitely not. But the image is incredibly detailed, and it took a commitment to put it together.

At one point it occurred to me that this individual puzzle might well be the first of its kind — the first Iverson Movie Ranch jigsaw puzzle.

For me it was the most rewarding jigsaw puzzle I've ever attempted — and possibly the only one I've ever finished, at least since I was a kid.

My "Personalized Hometown Puzzle" came from an outfit called Map Marketing, which I'm told is easy to find online.

Thus far I've avoided going to the website, and couldn't tell you how much the puzzles cost. After all, it was a present.

Well, I was just getting started ... and whaddaya know, it's done.