FARM QUILT LARGE Postcards for Fundraising 8 Up

A living museum -- that's what visitors call our Alabama Hills because to visit them is to revisit your past. You see those rocks and you remember the movies of a lifetime. It was here that all the great British-Army-in-India movies were made. This is where the "Lone Ranger" ambush was first filmed, this is where Roy Rogers first found Trigger and Tom Mix found Tony, Hollywood-style. Errol Flynn lead a patrol right over there, the cops chased Bogart on that road there! Dreams came to life here and a million memories remain.  

 Mural FinishedAlabama Hills Recreation Area

 sunset


Hollywood first came on location in Lone Pine in 1920, using the unique scenery in more than 400 feature films since. Actually the Alabama Hills, the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley are still being used in movies and car commercials. Most recently, scenes for the Academy Award-winning "Gladiator", Disney's "Dinosaur", "G.I. Jane", "Maverick" and "The Shadow" were shot in the Alabama Hills. And for good reason. The natural scenery remains unspoiled and unchanged since that first film in 1920, a silent Western for Paramount called "The Round Up" with Fatty Arbuckle. And as you slowly drive those dirt roads out there -- roads made by movie companies years ago to move equipment about -- you're riding where John Wayne rode. And Hoot Gibson and Buck Jones and Ken Maynard. And Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

Yes, just off Movie Road is the Movie Flats area where so many of our cowboy heroes filmed those exciting chase scenes in reel after reel of Saturday matinees. But it wasn't just Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy who helped immortalize Lone Pine. Other familiar names worked here too: Clint Eastwood, Jack Palance, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, Alan Ladd, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon and Natalie Wood, just to name a few.  For many years, Russell Spainhower's Anchor Ranch just south of Lone Pine provided the movie-makers with horses and cattle, wagons, a mission-hacienda set and a Western street called "Anchorville". None of the old wooden sets are left.

In October of 1990, the first Lone Pine Film Festival was held to celebrate all this movie history. Roy Rogers returned to Lone Pine to dedicate a permanent historical marker at Movie road. The Los Angeles Times once called the Festival "the most focused" of all the nation's film conventions because it only shows films made here and it always invites guest stars who worked here. Festival highlights include lively discussion panels with the guest stars, film historians and stunt actors. Throughout the festival weekend, over 20 guided tours of actual movie locations are offered out in the movie rocks and surrounding landscape. These tours demonstrate the magic of specific scenes with participants getting a chance to line up camera angles with movies stills and stories each tour guide has researched made around Lone Pine. Over the years, the festival has featured triburtes to John Wayne, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Tim Holt and the Lone Ranger. not to mention the almost continuous movies -- movies that were made here in Lone Pine. Over the years, the festival has featured tributes to John Wayne, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Tim Holt and the Lone Ranger. Held Each Columbus Day weekend in October, the Lone Pine Film Festival is a must for movie fans.

The Alabama Hills, that wonderland of rounded hills and twisted formations lying between Lone Pine and the mountains. Sprawled on either side of the road up to Whitney Portal (where the hike up Mount Whitney begins), this area with the out-of-state name has been a magnet for years not only for movie-makers and movie buffs but picnickers and countless hikers and nature lovers, as well.


Once incorrectly touted as the "earth's oldest hills," the Alabama Hills are now known to be the same age as the Sierras with both being formed a "few million years ago" by faulting. Identical in composition, their differences in appearance come from differing weathering processes. Up high, the freezing, expanding and thawing of rainwater and melting snow has caused the more chiseled fragmenting of the granite, while down in the warmer valley, the movie rocks took shape when "the climate was more moist and the rock was covered with soil," according to recent geologists' reports quoted by Sue Irwin in "California's Eastern Sierra." As the climate became drier, erosion slowly stripped away the soil and liquid mantle, exposing and shaping the hills and boulders we see today. Today, rainwater and wind continue the slow shaping process and those beiges and blacks in the mottled coloring are the results of being stained those millions of years by the oxidation of iron minerals in the rock. And thus you have the Alabama Hills. But where did that name come from? That goes back to the Civil War. In 1863, Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold and named their mining claims after a celebrated Confederate ship. Before long, the name applied to the whole area.  

Coincidentally, while there were Southerners prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles North near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the USS Kearsarge in 1864, the miners in Independence named their mining claims "Kearsarge" as a mountain peak, a mountain pass and a whole town. For more history on Lone Pine and the movie making here, see Dave Holland's book and video, "On Location In Lone Pine". Both tell you how to find some of the locations on your own and are available at the museum.

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