Joe Iverson builds a road through the Gorge, circa early 1930s
Joe Iverson, who ran all or part of the Iverson Movie Ranch for more than 60 years, was known to take it upon himself to "fine-tune" the ranch's rocky landscape.
"The Miracle Rider" (1935): Freddie Frog in foreground
One of Iverson's favorite techniques for changing the look of the place was to cement one rock on top of another — creating a "stacked rock" formation.
Freddie Frog, an early Iverson Ranch "stacked rock"
The earliest known example of a manmade stacked rock at Iverson is a feature I call Freddie Frog, which was in place as early as 1926.
Promo still for "Tell It to the Marines" (1926)
While it's relatively small and would be easy to miss in this early promo still, a careful examination of the shot reveals that Freddie Frog had already been created in 1926.
Remnants of Freddie Frog as found today
We know Freddie Frog was a manmade formation because remnants of the rock, including the cement that once held it in place, can be found today at the site.
"Range Beyond the Blue" (PRC, 1947)
This shot from the Eddie Dean movie "Range Beyond the Blue" shows Freddie at its most "frog-like." For more of the Freddie Frog story, please click here to read my blog post from 2014.
"Gold Raiders" (1951): Gold Raiders Rock appears at left
The Iverson Ranch was sprinkled with these "stacked rocks" throughout its filming era, and many of the stacks found their way into movies and TV shows. One of the best-known of the Iverson rock stacks is Gold Raiders Rock, seen above in the movie role that gives the rock its name.
"Ghost Town Renegades" (1947): Al "Fuzzy" St. John
rides past the future Gold Raiders Rock
Gold Raiders Rock, as it would later come to be known, also appeared in productions before it became a stacked rock. This is what it looked like before it had the smaller rock cemented on top of it.
Gold Raiders Rock today (photo by Jerry Condit)
A number of the original Iverson Movie Ranch stacked rocks have survived and can still be found on the former movie ranch. This is what Gold Raiders Rock looks like today.
"Five Guns West" (1955): "The Head" makes a rare appearance
An unusual stacked rock can be found near the west end of Cactus Hill. "The Head," as I call it, was rarely filmed, but did show its, um, head, in Roger Corman's terrific Western "Five Guns West."
The Head in modern times
The Head has survived and can still be found today next to the trail the riders used in "Five Guns West."
A small bird rests on "The Head" as dusk approaches
The Head may have had a limited film career, but it continues to make itself useful to the local wildlife.
Joe Iverson's "Garden of Stacked Rocks" in 2016
Joe Iverson outdid himself in one particular section of the former movie ranch, creating what amounts to a "garden of stacked rocks."
"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1960)
Grove Stack A is easy to spot in this scene from the "Wyatt Earp" TV series. The shot comes from an episode called "John Clum, Fighting Editor," which premiered April 12, 1960.
"Escort West" (United Artists, 1959)
Another view of Grove Stack A, this time with the camera shooting south, appears in the Victor Mature movie "Escort West." The stacked formation can be seen at the left of the frame.
Grove Stack B in 2016
Grove Stack B, which is tucked in between Grove Stacks A and C, is the least frequently filmed of the three formations in Joe's "Garden of Stacked Rocks."
"The Roy Rogers Show" episode "Ghost Town Gold" (premiered May 25, 1952)
This rare shot from "The Roy Rogers Show" comes from one of the few scenes where it's possible to identify Grove Stack B in a production.
"Hannah Lee: An American Primitive" (1953)
We get a better look at Grove Stack C in the John Ireland Western "Hannah Lee: An American Primitive."
"The Roy Rogers Show" episode "End of the Trail" (premiered Jan. 27, 1957)
Grove Stack C shares the screen with Roy Rogers in an episode from the final season of "The Roy Rogers Show."
Grove Stack C as it appears now, at left, and in "The Roy Rogers Show"
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the rock's profile in the "Roy Rogers" episode and in recent times.
Grove Stack B
Grove Stack B, too, is put together with the help of cement.
Grove Stack A
As a classic "triple stack," Grove Stack A would have necessarily been slathered in cement.
The finished product: Grove Stack A, in "Cole Younger, Gunfighter" (1958)
Joe Iverson's handiwork, Grove Stack A, can be seen in the lower right corner of this shot from the Allied Artists Western "Cole Younger, Gunfighter."
Joe Iverson's "Garden of Stacked Rocks" in 2016
Today the "Garden of Stacked Rocks" stands as a cement and sandstone testament to a man who knew a lot about rocks, earned his living from them — and even on occasion made his own.