Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Dale Robertson

Dale Robertson (1923-2013) was an American cowboy actor best known for his starring roles on television.  He starred as roving investigator Jim Hardie on the NBC/ABC television series, "Tales of Wells Fargo", and as the owner of an incomplete railroad line on ABC's "The Iron Horse."

Robertson was a former resident of Monterea Estates (Chatsworth, CA), who died of lung cancer Feb. 27, 2013, at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA.  

He often said he came to Hollywood so he could afford his own ranch back in Oklahoma, and at one time he owned 235 horses on his ranch near Yukon, OK (according to the Oklahoma Gazette).

Dale Robertson's Santa Susana locations filmography:

The Cariboo Trail (1950) Supporting role -- Starring Randolph Scott, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Bill Williams (Corriganville) 20th Century Fox

Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957) Starring Dale Robertson, Brian Keith and Rossana Rory (Corriganville) Republic 

"Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957) TV Series
Dale Robertson as Jim Hardie (201 episodes, 1957-1962)

"Iron Horse, The" (1966) TV Series
Dale Robertson as Ben Calhoun (9 episodes, 1966-1968)

"Death Valley Days" (1969-1970) (TV series) 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mountain Man -- Fur Trade Rendezvous

Maybe you're old enough to have been a fan of Disney TV star Fess Parker when he portrayed Davy Crocket in the 1950s and Daniel Boone in the 1960s.  

If you were chances are you always wondered what is was like to load and shoot a muzzleloading rifle or throw a tomahawk?  

Or perhaps you recall those exciting Mountain Man films and TV episodes of the 1970s -- Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams -- TV Series (1977–1978), Centennial -- TV mini-series (1978–1979), and The Mountain Men (1980).  

If so, did you ever wonder what it would be like to live in an Indian tipi village or paddle canoe on the Missouri River?  (See related post at

For me the answer to those questions was a resounding YES!

There was something magical about those earliest trappers and explorers known as the Mountain Man.  Between 1800 and the 1880s they were the first to go into unmapped wilderness and establish trails and pathways that would later become wagon roads for folks who settled the West.

During the 1980s and 1990s, I discovered 'Buckskinning' -- folks who enjoy shooting muzzleloading rifles, dressing in 1840s period clothing, and living a Mountain Man lifestyle.

Their gatherings are called Rendezvous -- modeled after the Rocky Mountain gatherings where the trappers met with the dealers to trade their furs for supplies, tobacco, and whiskey. The National Muzzleloading Rifle Association sponsored most rendezvous events and membership was required for attendance.

For me there is no better way to learn about our nations history than go live it for a few days at a historical reenactment.

Rendezvous reenactments can be fun for the whole family.  All you need to get started is some period clothing -- a 1840s style shirt and sash, a string of trade beads, and an old pair of corduroy pants worked for my son in the photo below.

Keep your powder dry and mind your scalp till pilgrim :-)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Superman Makes Chatsworth Appearance

Chatsworth… eerr I mean Atsworth is a buzz.  Not with bees, but rather that other flying Chatsworth resident… SUPERMAN!

That's right last Tuesday night (2-19-13) the Chatsworth Historical Society screened clips from "Superman" (1948) the first movie serial to feature our comic book hero.

One of the neat discoveries for society members was that the old Chatsworth railroad station had been used in the serial -- with a simple sign change which read "Atsworth" rather than Chatsworth. 

Columbia lensed two Superman cliff-hangers -- both with -- multiple scenes lensed in Chatsworth or on the Iverson Ranch.  Actor Kirk Alyn was the first to play Superman in both serials.

Chatsworth's Superman Filmography

Superman (1948) starring Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill and Tommy Bond (Iverson Ranch)(Chatsworth) Columbia

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) starring Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill and Lyle Talbot  (Iverson Ranch)(Chatsworth)  Columbia

But, did you know Superman's arch nemesis -- and the consummate evil genius -- Lex Luthor lived in Stoney Point? 

Stay tuned Batman is coming soon...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sporting Collectibles -- Canoes

During the Golden Age of sports afield (1900-1940s) the canoe was romanticized by American illustrators like Carl Rungius (1869-1959), Frank Earle Schoonover (1877-1972), Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945), and Philip R. Goodwin (1881-1935).  Their art graced the covers and pages of popular outdoor magazines such as Forest and Stream, Outdoor Life, Hunter-Trapper-Trader, Hunting and Fishing, and Recreation.

The rugged outdoorsman was portrayed as a hearty individual always prepared for any kind of action in the northwoods.  Firearms makers such as Marlin, Remington, and Winchester and fishing tackle manufactures like Bristol Rods, and Pflueger, produced dozens of advertising catalogs, posters and calendars featuring sportsmen paddling a canoe while using their goods.

Vintage advertising goods for canoe manufactures like Peterborough, Chestnut, Old Town, Kennebec, and Rushton are scarce and highly collectible today.

Early catalogs often fetch $100.00 and more depending on condition and quality of graphic illustrations.

Advertising envelopes are rare, and are a bargain compared to prices paid for firearms covers.

Handsomely framed antique prints such as this 'Indian Love Call' pair are hard to find today and are much sought after.

This three panel canoe print with its decorative frame -- embellished with bows and arrows -- is one of my favorite possessions.

Salesman sample paddles and Native American crafted souvenirs like this LL Bean canoe paddle and the birch bark canoe model make delightful decorator pieces.

Northwoods pack baskets made of woven ash -- and associated with canoes -- can double as umbrella stands.

Native American crafted crooked knives -- used in canoe making -- are also highly collectible.

Even canoeing related watch fobs and vintage medals are collectible.  I especially like the Wyonai Canoe Club medal (above) from 1916 -- a second place prize for the 1/4 mile doubles.

If you can afford one -- there's nothing better than owning and paddling a vintage canoe -- like this a 15' Old Town Trapper.  I sold this one a few years back because it was getting to heavy for an old man to portage.  I sure do miss it.


Another extraordinary canoe that I owned for many years was a birch bark crafted by Bill Hafeman, master canoe builder.  It hung from my living room ceiling.  I'm sad to say I never put it in the water.  if my current home had the same high beamed ceilings, I'd still own it.

Here's an unusual canoe collectible... a small tin of varnish -- circa 1900 -- that was made exclusively for the Old Town Canoe Company.  It's pretty rough, and I was disappointed when I received it, but like I said it is an unusual collectible.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda (1905-1982) was an American film and stage actor.  He attained stardom when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, a 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about an Oklahoma family who moved west during the Dust Bowl.

During his six decades in Hollywood he appeared in well over 100 films, television programs, and shorts.  He was perhaps best known for his Western roles.

Henry Fonda's Santa Susana locations filmography includes:

Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, The (1936) starring Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda (Iverson Ranch) Walter Wanger Prod.

Jezebel (1938) starring Bette Davis, Henry Fonda and George Brent (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.

Grapes Of Wrath, The (1940) starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell and John Carradine (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century Fox

Ox-Bow incident, The (1943) starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews and Mary Beth Hughes (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century-Fox

Fort Apache (1948) starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Shirley Temple (Corriganville) RKO

How the West Was Won (1962) starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda and James Stewart (Corriganville) MGM

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sporting Collectibles -- Du Pont Watch Fob

This handsome gold filled Ballistite & Empire Du Pont watch fob was a shooting award produced by Du Pont Gunpowder Company to promote its new smokeless ballistic and empire gunpowders.  Smokeless gunpowders -- introduced in the early 20th century -- were a significant improvement over centuries old black-powder used for military and hunting firearms.  

Around 1907 - 1910 -- many gun clubs offered 'solid gold' watch fobs as a trophy for their trap and skeet shooting events.  The article above was published August 18, 1910, in a Pawnee, Oklahoma Newspaper.

Smokeless Gunpowder

One new smokeless powder -- known as Ballistite -- was a propellant made from two high explosives, nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine, and was developed and patented by Alfred Nobel in 1887.  The Du Pont Company did extensive research of smokeless powders for many years before selling it to the public because nitroglycerine was so unstable.

Look at the black-powder smoke from a single muzzle-loader blast.

As early as the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) military leaders had complained that unless there was a strong wind, after a few shots, soldiers using black powder ammunition would have their field of vision obscured by clouds of thick gray smoke, so smokeless gunpowder was a huge asset to both the military and sportsman alike.

Look at the black-powder smoke hanging on the ground after a few shots.

I can also tell you -- from personal experience -- black-powder will foul revolvers after as few as a dozen shots, so new cleaner burning smokeless gunpowder was a major improvement.

Ballistite & Empire

During the early 1900s, Du Pont promoted two new smokeless gunpowders used for shotguns:  Ballistite which was a dense, hard grain, progressive burning powder, stated to be reliable under all conditions -- and -- Empire which was a bulk, soft grain powder, and a favorite with trapshooters.

Sporting collectibles such as gunpowder advertising posters, pinbacks, and watch fobs are highly collectible and fetch top money in today's world.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Scott Brady

Scott Brady (1924-1985) was an American film and television actor who specialized in movie tough-guy roles.  In 1958, he played the lead role of Sergeant Matt Blake to Clint Eastwood's third billing as Keith Williams in Ambush at Cimarron Pass, a film which Eastwood later said, "it was probably the lousiest western ever made."

Brady's Santa Susana locations starring roles:

Mohawk (1956) starring Scott Brady, Rita Gam and Neville Brand (Corriganville) 20th Century-Fox

The Storm Rider (1957) starring Scott Brady, Mala Powers and Bill Williams (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century-Fox

Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958) starring Scott Brady, Margia Dean and Clint Eastwood (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century-Fox

Blood Arrow (1958) starring Scott Brady, Paul Richards and Phyllis Coates - 20th Century-Fox

Black Spurs (1965) - Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Scott Brady (Corriganville) Paramount

Brady's Santa Susana locations supporting roles:

Red Tomahawk (1967) - Howard Keel, Joan Caulfield, Broderick Crawford (Iverson Ranch) Paramount

Brady's Santa Susana locations television roles:

The Virginian (TV series) 
episode: The Animal (1971)
episode: The Storm Gate (1968)

Gunsmoke (TV series) 
episode: Lynch Town (1973)
episode: Jubilee (1972)
episode: Danny (1969)