Western RoundUp: Iverson Movie Ranch

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.

In past columns I’ve taken readers along on visits to Western locations such as Corriganville in Simi Valley, California; Kanab, Utah; and Lone Pine, California.

Iverson Movie Ranch Garden of the Gods sign
Garden of the Gods sign at Iverson Movie Ranch

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:

Iverson Movie Ranch Lone Ranger Rock
“Lone Ranger Rock”

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 Lone Ranger Rock 2016
“Lone Ranger Rock” in 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.

Iverson Movie Ranch Iverson Development
Iverson Development

To this day remnants of Iverson’s filming history can be found throughout the area.

Iverson Movie Ranch Left Behind

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).

Iverson Movie Ranch Cave
Cave at Iverson Movie Ranch

Another manmade change was this shoring for a “stagecoach road” used in many films, including The Oklahoma Kid (1939) with James Cagney:

Iverson Movie Ranch Stagecoach Road
Man-made stagecoach road used in The Oklahoma Kid (1939)

At one point a crew bolted something to this rock; the holes remain:

Iverson Movie Ranch Set Rock

And here’s a retaining wall:

Iverson Movie Ranch 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!

Iverson Movie Ranch Stagecoach (1939) location
Filming location for Stagecoach (1939)

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.

Iverson Movie Ranch Mystery Man (1944) Location
Rock formation from Mystery Man (1944)

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):

Iverson Movie Ranch Perils of Nyoka (1942) location
Cliff featured in Perils of Nyoka (1942)

Here’s Nyoka Cliff from a distance, photographed in 2016:

Iverson Movie Ranch Perils of Nyoka (1942) location 2016
The same cliff from afar in 2016

My husband poses at a location used in The Fighting Seabees (1944):

Iverson Movie Ranch The Fighting Seabees (1944) location
Film location from The Fighting Seabees (1944)

Here’s a shot looking toward the famed Garden of the Gods.  Even Buster Keaton filmed there, for Three Ages (1923).

Iverson Movie Ranch Garden of the gods
Garden of the Gods from a distance

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.

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8 Responses to Western RoundUp: Iverson Movie Ranch

  1. Walter says:

    Laura, thank you for taking us on a tour of the wonderful movie location Iverson Movie Ranch. I really enjoy your good photographs of the locations where so many good movies and tv shows were filmed, back in the day.

    I wonder how many of these Iverson Movie Ranch landmarks are at risk of being demolished for future development?

    Look forward to your next write-up.

  2. Jerry Entract says:

    Great write-up and insight of these historic locations, Laura! Thanks for once again sharing these great photos. The memories that flood back from dozens (hundreds?) of ‘B’ westerns and TV episodes. These days, spotting the locations used when watching a film is an important part of the enjoyment for me.

  3. Chrisk says:

    Beautiful photos. Thanks for the memory.

  4. Loved your informative post and the awesome photos!

  5. Laura Grieve says:

    Thank you all very much for reading and taking the time to comment!

    Walter, I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos. I really hope that what remains of Iverson Movie Ranch will be undisturbed. I wish it could get some sort of historic designation to protect it.

    Jerry, I agree, one of the things I really enjoy is recognizing locations in movies — especially the locations I’ve been fortunate to visit!

    Chrisk, my pleasure!

    Karen, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I hope you’ll have a chance to visit Iverson or other interesting film locations on future visits to So. CA.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

  6. Sue says:

    What fun reading your article and seeing the photos. I did lots of hiking all around Chatsworth in the late 60’s and early 70’s. No longer live in Ca., so this brought back lots of memories.
    Thank you.

  7. Laura Grieve says:

    Thank you, Sue, I’m delighted you enjoyed my column so much. Thank you for taking the time to share your nice feedback.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

  8. Pingback: Western RoundUp: Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958) | Classic Movie Hub Blog

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