Iverson Movie Ranch consisted of 500 acres located about 20 miles north of LA, near Simi Valley. It started making movies in 1912 and later added TV programs for a total of about 3,500 shoots, making it the most photographed movie location in history. Leading actors to work there included Richard Burton in” The Robe,” John Wayne in “Stagecoach,”and the Lone Ranger. Untold B-Westerns, the Republic Serials of the 1940s, and six seasons of Bonanza were filmed there. In 1967 the Simi Vally Freeway came through and, along with housing and condo development, spelled the beginning of the end for the property. Adding to that was a devastating fire in 1970 that burned 100,000 acres in the area fueled by 80-mile-an-hour winds. However, the last movie wasn’t made until 1997–the not to be missed Motorcycle Cheerleading Mamas. The photos for this month and the next show a range of then and now as some areas are unchanged, some are modified, and others are all but gone. The least changed is Garden of the Gods, now a 23-acre public park.
” Richard the Lion Hearted” at Garden of the Gods (1923)
Note the painting of the top of the castle, which was superimposed on film, has been removed in this photo:
A scene from ” Stagecoach” at Garden of the Gods
White Eagle Rock
Old Man of the Gorge in a 1956 Film
Another single dwelling at a major Civil War battle, also in 1863 and also having gone through extensive renovation, is Shirley House in Vicksburg, MS. It witnessed the fiercest of the fighting during the 47-day siege. The first photo is dated 1863, and the third is from 1902 before restoration (click to enlarge).
The Stone House was built in 1848 and is located in Manassas, Va., where two major battles (both known as Manassas in the North and Bull Run in the South) were fought. Both sides occupied the house, but it was primarily a hospital under Confederate control. It was sold to the Federal Government and renovated in 1949. The first photo is from the early 1900s while the third dates from 1862. The final photo shows the challenges presented by being just 30 miles from Washington, D.C.
The McLean House was also built in 1848 and is located in Appomattox, Va. It served as the surrender site for the Confederate Army when Lee and Grant met there on April 9, 1865. It had been purchased by Wilmer McLean in 1863 who, ironically, moved there to avoid the war, which had started on his farm in 1861 in Manassas, Va.! In the 1890s it was dismantled to be moved to Washinton D.C. where it was intended to be reassembled and serve as a Civil War museum . That never happened so the scraps sat in pieces for 50 years when many of the old materials (5,000 bricks) and new ones were used to reconstruct the dwelling, which then opened for tours in 1949. The first photo is dated 1865.
The former Custis-Lee Mansion became Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial in 1972. It was built in 1802 on a bluff just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. It was occupied by Lee’s family for 30 years until Lee left in 1861. The Federals took over in 1864 and started Arlington Cemetery. The first photo shows the front porch in 1861 with Mathew Brady in a top hat. The second photo is dated 1864.
The house at Bushong Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was built in 1825. On May 15, 1864, it was the center of the Battle of New Market when 6,000 Union and 4,100 Confederate forces engaged in a fierce battle. Part of the Confederate army consisted of 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) ages 14 through 24. The cadets were intended as reserves, but immediately saw front line action; ten were killed and 57 wounded. The first photo was taken in the 1880s.
The 7,000 sq. ft. Farley House was built in 1790 in Culpepper County Virginia. During the Civil War it was occupied by both sides, first by Jeb Stuart and then by the Union Headquarters 6th Corps. One hundred and twenty thousand Union soldiers wintered nearby in late 1863 following the Battle of Brandy Station – the largest, mostly cavalry engagement not only of the Civil War but of any war fought on U.S. soil. The photo is dated 1864 and shows Union occupation.
John Brown’s Fort was built as a firehouse in Harper’s Ferry West Virginia in 1848. It is the site where, in 1859, John Brown and his followers barracaded themselves after attempting to take over the adjacent armory. Ironically, the insurrection was put down by none other than Robert E. Lee and Jeb Stuart. In 1891 the building was sold, shipped in pieces, reassembled, and put on display in Chicago near the Columbian Exposition. It attracted a grand total of 11 visitors. Then in 1895 it was dismantled and shipped back to Harper’s Ferry, where it sat in a farmer’s field. After that it was moved to a local college campus where it stayed until 1968 when it made its final move to about 150 feet from where it was originally situated. The first photo is dated 1888, and the second one was taken in 1895.