Western RoundUp: Iverson Movie Ranch
Visiting Western movie locations is one of my favorite things to do! Seeing these sites in person always provides interesting insight into filmmaking in general and Westerns in particular.
This month we’ll pay a visit to the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, where most of the great movie cowboys filmed at one point or another. Iverson was first used as a location in the silent era; countless films and TV shows were shot there, up through the late 1960s.
One of the most famous sites at Iverson Ranch is “Lone Ranger Rock,” named for its appearance in the opening credits of the Lone Ranger TV series:
The above photo was taken by me, along with most of the photos seen in this column, in February 2022.
Here’s Lone Ranger Rock shot from further away, in November 2016:
Iverson Movie Ranch was originally 500 acres and much of that is now developed, as seen below, but there are still key areas, including the “Garden of the Gods,” which can be hiked.
To this day remnants of Iverson’s filming history can be found throughout the area.
For instance, a film crew built a “cave” in front of this hole in some rocks; parts of the cave are still lying on the ground (seen above).
At one point a crew bolted something to this rock; the holes remain:
And here’s a retaining wall:
We also found a 5-in-1 blank left behind by a film crew!
Finding a tangible relic such as this is a bit like reaching out and like touching the movie past.
John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) was shot in the area right here!
A few years ago I took a tour of Iverson locations for the Hopalong Cassidy film Mystery Man (1944). It’s particularly fun that the film cut together a shootout filmed at Iverson with scenes shot in Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills, so the actors shooting at each other at “close range” were actually filmed hundreds of miles apart. Why that happened is a mystery in itself, but one supposes that the film crew got home from Lone Pine and realized they didn’t have enough footage, so they supplemented what they had by filming at nearby Iverson.
While most of the films and TV shows shot at Iverson were Westerns, other filming was done there too. One of the best-known sites in the area is Nyoka Cliff, named for its appearance in the serial Perils of Nyoka (1942):
Here’s Nyoka Cliff from a distance, photographed in 2016:
My husband poses at a location used in The Fighting Seabees (1944):
More views of Iverson Ranch:
The rock formations at Iverson are as unique and distinctive as those in Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills. It’s great fun recognizing them while watching Westerns.
I’ve been to Iverson Ranch a few times now, and each time I take away a little more knowledge, but I’ve scarcely scratched the surface of becoming acquainted with its history.
To learn much more about this fascinating movie location, please visit the outstanding Iverson Movie Ranch site which has hundreds of detailed location photographs. The site is an educational experience in and of itself which should be of great interest to my fellow Western fans.
– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub
Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns. She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals. Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.