I'll bet several of you are saying, "Silverado? A place in Joshua Tree National Park called Silverado? Never heard of it. I don't believe it." And you would be right. There is no place in JTree called Silverado, at least, as far as I know of at this writing.
However, in 1948 Columbia Pictures released a movie entitled Adventures in Silverado. The story goes that in the early 1880s, Robert Louis Stevenson was searching the frontier country for story material and ended up in Silverado, a land of stage-drivers, gold mines and highway bandits. Bill Foss arrives in town with a new stagecoach and is immediately challenged to a race by Zeke Butler. Foss' coach is forced off the road and his lead horse injured, so he has to stay over in town while his horse heals. Needing work, Foss takes a job with Jeannie, the beautiful (and single) owner of the stage coach line that Zeke Butler works for. Zeke doesn't like Foss and there are some fisticuffs. Meanwhile, the background story line concerns a mysterious bandit known as The Monk, who has been robbing stages of their gold shipments. Foss is accused of working with The Monk, talk of lynching ensues, there are more stagecoach chases, some guns go off and in the end The Monk is caught, Foss is cleared, he marries the girl and they ride off for their honeymoon on a stagecoach.
And the reason I watched Adventures in Silverado (besides the fact that I am a huge fan of westerns), is that parts of it were shot in JTree. Knowing this, I had to watch the film to see if I could spot any of the places used in the movie.
As it turns out, the stagecoach chases, and a few other small parts were filmed in JTree. The majority of the movie was filmed at Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California. Movie filming at the Iverson Ranch goes back to 1912. Over the years of its operation, an estimated 3,500 or more productions were filmed at the ranch, evenly split between movies and television episodes. High profile productions, Republic serials and long-running TV westerns were all filmed at the ranch.
The two filming locations of Adventures in Silverado provide a charming quirk, to those of us who know JTree. The stagecoaches charge down dirt roads, passing towering rock formations that can only be found at the park, and then when they arrive in Silverado, the landscape and scenery is so NOT Joshua Tree that it makes you smile.
After watching the movie, I went back and took some screen shots, printed them out, and then headed out to the park with Murbachi to see if we could find some of the locations. We were somewhat successful. Here are some of the locations we found.
Notice the tire tracks in the dirt? Easy to spot in a still like this one, but when the movie is rolling they're almost invisible.
Some of these places surely look familiar to you, because they are all spots along Park Blvd. in the vicinity of the Roadside Rocks climbing area. Now for a couple of places we weren't able to locate on this trip.
The rocks in these three photos are very distinctive and are probably located somewhere in the same area as the ones we found. If anyone happens to recognize where these locations are, please leave me a note in the comment section at the end of this post.
One final pair of stills from the movie. Some Hollywood magic took place and the town of Silverado was added to one section of the film. If anyone knows this location, please let me know as well.
It was a fun quest, tracking these places down. And Adventures in Silverado is a fun movie. I recommend watching it if you have the chance. It's a lot of fun seeing these places in JTree, especially with stagecoaches tearing down the dirt roads.
Here are a few tag lines from the movie:
MAN AGAINST MAN FOR A WOMAN...with the rule-book thrown away!
KILLING! LOOTING! LOVING! - That was the West...this is its story...written in gunfire.
SPECTACULAR ACTION AND ROMANCE ON THE OLD FRONTIER...immortalized by Robert Louis Stevenson
WILD LOVE FLARES in the flames of a bandit's fire!
If you take a fancy to any of the images I've taken and included in this post, please feel free to download them for your own use. They're just pixels, afterall.
One last shot. I've been experimenting using my GoPro Hero 4 Silver for still shots. And then I play around with them in photoshop.