“The most photographed location in motion picture history”
The world famous Iverson Movie Ranch is the most photographed location ranch in motion picture history. Situtated in the Santa Susanna Mountains in the northwest corner of Chatsworth, California, it has been used to simulate the terrains of Asia, Africa, the South Seas, the old west, and any other locale the studios could wish for. Literally thousands of motion pictures and television shows have used the Iverson Movie Ranch for some or all of the scenes in the picture. This location ranch is probably the most recognizable site to movie viewers of all ages, whether it is the Garden of Gods site on the Lower Iverson (see picture to the right) or the chase roads on the Upper Iverson. The stars who have lensed here is a virtual who's who of Hollywood, including Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie, Laurel & Hardy in The Flying Dueces, John Wayne in The Fighting Seabees, Gary Cooper in Lives of the Bengal Lancers, and Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Lex Barker and Gordon Scott as Tarzan in various films. The history of the ranch began in 1880 when Miss Augustus Wagman homesteaded 160 acres of rocky land which eventually grew to a few thousand acres. In October 1888, she married Karl Iverson, and from that union five children were born: Joe, Sena, Isaac, Anna, and Aaron. In 1912 the California Aqueduct opened, bringing water (and people) to Los Angeles and the first film at Iverson was shot. The name of this first film has been reported as being The Squaw Man, but this is probably incorrect. Unfortunately, because of several fires, the ranch records have been lost. The management of the ranch during the early years was handled by Karl, Augustus, and Joe. Around 1927, the ownership of the ranch was given to two of the sons, Joe and Aaron (the other children having moved away), but the profits were divided in thirds (the parents receiving one-third, Joe and Aaron receiving one-third each). By 1962, the ownership of the ranch was already divided into two sections: Joe owning the Lower Iverson, and Aaron owning the Upper Iverson [In the 1962 edition of the Studio Blu-Book Directory on page 36 is the following ad: "Aaron Iverson Ranch, Motion Picture & TV Location at the Upper (North) Section of Iverson Ranch, Consisting of Seven Location with Every Kind of Scenery including Miles of Scenic Roads and Insert Roads. There are many new improvements being made such as Western Street, Ranch Village, Lake, Pools, Bulldog Hills, Graves." Unfortunately, most of these improvements appear not to have been started.
Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth area was a part of my childhood in the late 1940's through 1969, when I graduated from CSU Northridge. My Swedish grandfather, Frederick A. Soderberg, was good friends with Aaron Iverson (and wife Betsy Iverson) and Joe Iverson (and wife Eva Iverson), and was a relative to Augusta Wageman, a Swedish grandmother to Aaron and Joe. F.A Soderberg and his wife Hannah Soderberg (maiden name Hannah Soderstrom) would drive my brother and I to the ranch to meet with Aaron and Betsy, who were both farmers at heart, and with Joe and Eva, who liked the benefits that money provided by allowing the ranch to be used for filming movies, and later TV series. In the 1940's-1960's, Joe and Aaron were co-owners of the Iverson Movie Ranch. F.A. Soderberg was a carpenter and later a building contractor who built some of the movie sets on the ranch. It was fun watching them make movies and meeting some of the movie actors like Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), Jay SIlverheels (the Lone Ranger's Indian friend), Buster Crabbe and other actors. The movie ranch was ideal for making movies, such as westerns because the abundant large boulders and interesting scenic terrain. Cowboys and Indians could easily leap from the boulders onto stagecoaches and horses passing by.
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Iverson Movie Ranch
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