The Cockatoo, in happier times
Raise a glass to the Cockatoo, as another noble Iverson Movie Ranch rock has gone the way of the dodo. The Cockatoo is no more.
Here's the setting where the Cockatoo rested peacefully on the South Rim of the Upper Iverson, presumably for centuries. The Cockatoo, in its characteristic reclining position, can be seen near the bottom center of the shot. You may also notice the distinctive movie rock Ol' Flattop nearby — I'll ID them both in the next shot.
"Captain Midnight" (1942)
This shot from the Columbia serial "Captain Midnight" captures a couple of relatively rare movie rocks in Ol' Flattop, at top left, and Gorilla, above the roof of the car.
"Five Guns West" (1955)
Gorilla really looks like a gorilla in Roger Corman's great Iverson movie "Five Guns West," as seen here. Please click here to see additional photos from this Iverson spectacle.
Recent shot of Ol' Flattop
On my most recent visit to the former Iverson Movie Ranch, I discovered to my great disappointment that the Cockatoo has fallen victim to the bulldozers — buried alive, in a sense. You'll notice in the above shot of Ol' Flattop that this side of the rock is now abutted by dirt. The entire cluster of rocks below Ol' Flattop on its eastern side — the same group seen in the shots higher up in this post, including the Cockatoo — is now buried beneath this expanse of dirt.
Rock Island — or what's left of it — as it exists today: "only" about three-quarters buried
A number of widely filmed movie rocks on the Lower Iverson suffered similar fates, and are unlikely to ever be seen again. In many cases it's unknown whether a rock was buried or broken up, but among the probable burials are Plaza Rock and Bald Knob, while the fate of Rock Island is known: The once-towering rock feature was buried about three-quarters of the way up, with the "tip" of the formation still visible next to the swimming pool area in the condos, as seen in the photo above.
"Ride 'em Cowboy" (1942)
This is what Rock Island used to look like, in a screen shot from the Abbott and Costello movie "Ride 'em Cowboy." The bulk of the formation seen in this photo is now underground.
more about the partial burial of Rock Island, please click here.
Retaining wall for "Mansion on the Hill" being built at the east end of Cactus Hill
— the Cockatoo is buried somewhere under this dirt
The shakeup on Cactus Hill and the Upper Iverson's South Rim was triggered by construction of what appears destined to eventually be a large estate at the east end of Cactus Hill. A huge retaining wall went up about a year and a half ago, and the ongoing project has increasingly had an impact on the historic rocks and other features in the area.
Springtime on Cactus Hill
The march of progress has been going on sporadically at Iverson since the 1960s, when the land began to be repurposed from its role in filming and converted into mobile homes, condos and residential estates. Only a few areas have remained relatively pristine — including Cactus Hill, until recently.
Looking northeast from Cactus Hill toward Oat Mountain
Today the region suffers from historic drought conditions, which has slowed — but not stopped — development. In this view of the construction area at the east end of Cactus Hill we can see barren versions of a number of familiar background hills: Two-Humper on the left and Notch Hill on the right, with the sprawling Oat Mountain in the background.
"Zane Grey Theatre" (1958)
If you clicked on the Plaza Rock link I included up above and you find you want more, more, more Plaza Rock — I hear you. It's a cool rock; here's another fun Plaza Rock item.