Friday, March 29, 2013

Cowboy Collectibles -- Horse Themed Watch Fobs

If you've stumbled onto my blog a time or two then you may be aware that one of my passions has been antique collecting.  Through the years I've collected wood working tools, sporting collectibles (hunting, fishing & canoeing), and -- for the last thirty years -- Old West antiques.

If gives me a good deal of pleasure to learn about some of things that my grandfathers may have used in their everyday life.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons I'm attracted to 'Horse Themed Watch Fobs.'  Take the Bickmore Gall Salve watch fob pictured above.  There's a better than good chance my granddad, his dad, or even his granddad used this product to keep their draft horses working.

What's even more interesting is that -- thanks to the internet -- you can find old advertising pieces and stories about companies that produced these early watch fobs to promote their product.

For example I learned that Bickmore Gall Salve has been around for over 130 years.  It all started when Dr. A. Parker Bickmore saw a need to treat draft horses plagued with gall sores caused by harness use.  His pharmaceutical knowledge coupled with good business sense helped the Doctor create Bickmore's Gall Salve.  His unique product allowed the horse to be worked while healing, thereby relieving the financial strain of a non-productive animal, an important consideration in 1882.  Bickmore's slogan became, "Be Sure and Work the Horse."

Another interesting watch fob in my collection is the one pictured above that advertised "Gray's Tonic Preventive."  E. E. Gray promised his tonic would put your horse in healthy condition and keep it that way.

A century ago there were many so called patent medicines -- medicines protected by a trademark or a trade name so as to establish proprietary rights -- they may or may not have delivered as promised.  Quack medicine became a derogatory term used to describe the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices.  I wonder which category "Gray's Tonic Preventive" fell in?

One of my favorite fobs is this Bradstreet and Clemens Company, Grand Island, Nebraska horse and mule auction advertising piece that lists all the auction dates for 1914.

Grand Island, Nebraska was within a reasonable travel distance of my great grandfather's homestead in Comstock, Nebraska, so I figure he must have been aware of the second largest horse auction in the world.  Maybe he even bought or sold some of his Belgium horses there.  I wonder.

I might have passed on the more or less unimpressive watch fob for the Ruwart Manufacturing Company pictured above.  But, then I happened onto an interesting obituary for the company's last owner -- Chuck Ruwart.

I learned that the Ruwart Manufacturing Company had been a family owned business that produced western saddle trees and custom saddle accessories for more than four generations.  Chuck Ruwart had a passion for the automobile and in 1965, he sold Ruwart Manufacturing to the employees and purchased a Chevrolet dealership in Denver.

I wonder what interesting horse themed watch fob will turn up next?

Links to my other watch fob posts:

Cowboy Collectibles -- Watches and Fobs

Montana Cowboy Saddle-Maker's Watch Fob

Sporting Collectibles -- Du Pont Gunpowder Watch Fob

King Ranch 'Running W' Saddle Watch Fob

Monday, March 25, 2013

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Tyrone Power

Tyrone Power (1914-1958) was an American film and stage actor. From 1930s to the 1950s Power appeared in dozens of films, often in swashbuckler roles with romantic leads. His best-known films include The Mark of Zorro which has some of it outdoor scenes lensed on the Iverson Ranch.

Though largely a matinee idol known for his good looks, Power starred in films from a number of genres, from drama to light comedy. In the 1950s he began placing limits on the number of films he would make in order to have time for the stage. He received his biggest accolades as a stage actor in John Brown's Body and Mister Roberts. Power died from a heart attack at the age of 44.

The Mark of Zorro (1940) - Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone (Iverson Ranch)

The Mississippi Gambler (1953) - Tyrone Power, Piper Laurie, Julie Adams (Corriganville)

King of the Khyber Rifles (1953) - Tyrone Power, Terry Moore, Michael Rennie (Iverson Ranch)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

King Ranch 'Running W' Saddle Watch Fob

My 'Running W' Saddle pocket watch fob has a great patina, and shows little sign wear.  As you can see it has the "Running W" brand on the saddle fender.   And the reverse reads, "THE KINGSVILLE LUMBER CO. KINGSVILLE, TEXAS MANUFACTURERS OF THE RUNNING W BRAND GUARANTEED SADDLES.  My fob measures approximately 1 3/4" high by 1 1/8" wide.  Two of these rare fobs recently turned up at the same time of ebay and sold for $162.00 and $199.00 respectively.

The Kingsville 'Running W' is well known in Texas history

The Running W Saddle Shop began in 1867, when ranch owner Captain King established a small tack shop to make saddles and other equipment to be used on his already impressive King Ranch in Texas. 

Captain King's assembled group of first-rate craftsmen made saddles of such exceptional quality that news of their superiority quickly spread. 

Within a few years -- following the end of the Civil War -- the King Ranch Saddle Shop was providing saddles and tack not only for the vaqueros who tended the rapidly growing herds of the Running W brand, but also for ranchers and cowboys on neighboring and distant ranches.

Around 1910, the Kingsville Lumber Company took over the saddle shop, and retained the 'Running W' brand.  They are still in business today, and are known as the King Ranch Saddle Shop in Kingsville, Texas. 

NOTE: historical source material comes -- in part -- from my friends at High Noon Western Americana…

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Best Chatsworth Movies -- Tell It to the Marines (1926)

"Tell It to the Marines" is a tale about hard nosed Marine Corps Sergeant  O'Hara (Lon Chaney), smart-aleck enlisted private "Skeet" Burns (William Haines), and their relationship with pretty Navy nurse Norma Dale(Eleanor Boardman).

Dispite the fact that "Tell It to the Marines" was MGM's second highest grossing film of 1926, the story starts out slow -- yawn -- until eventually the action picks up and the Marines are sent to join the Asiatic Squadron, stationed at Shanghai, China. 

When Norma and the other nurses are sent to Hangchow to deal with an epidemic they are threatened by a bandit army, so the Marines are ordered to their rescue. 

During a tense evacuation of Hangchow, O'Hara and his men are chosen to be the rear guard at a bridge (located in the Iverson Ranch Garden of the gods). Fierce fighting breaks out, O'Hara is wounded, and he orders Skeet to rejoin the column. Skeet refuses to obey and stays to fight with O'Hara. 

The detachment is finally saved by the timely arrival of an aerial squadron.


Lon Chaney -- Sergeant O'Hara
William Haines -- Private George Robert "Skeet" Burns
Eleanor Boardman -- Nurse Norma Dale
Eddie Gribbon -- Corporal Madden, Skeet's friend
Carmel Myers -- Zaya
Warner Oland -- Chinese bandit leader
Mitchell Lewis -- Native starting fight
Frank Currier -- General Wilcox
Maurice E. Kains -- Harry (as Maurice Kains)

The five minute action sequence filmed in the Garden of the Gods is some of the best special effects work to come out of the silent film era.  Watch the action here…

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Big News on the Iverson Movie Ranch

This plaque is the Chatsworth Equine Cultural Heritage Organization's way to pay homage to those six-gun heroes and their gallant horses that performed on Chatsworth's Iverson Movie Location Ranch.

Thank you for the memories.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy installed the plaque March 5, 2013.  The funds came from the Chatsworth Equine Cultural Heritage Organization when they dissolved December 2009.

The plaque is mounted on a sandstone outcropping -- known as Hawk Rock --  just off the trail that leads to the Garden of the Gods formation.

It's also located directly opposite Lone Ranger Rock which is on the east side of Redmesa Road -- about a quarter mile north of Santa Susana Pass Road -- in Chatsworth.

Read Chatsworth Equine Cultural Heritage Organization's Backstory:

Homage to six-gun heroes and their gallant horses

So what's the big deal you ask?

Just a select few better known movies lensed in the Garden of the Gods Park include:

The Narrow Trail (1917) starring William S. Hart
The Plainsman (1936) starring Gary Cooper
Stagecoach (1939) starring John Wayne
The Oklahoma Kid (1939) starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart
They Died with Their Boots On (1941) starring Errol Flynn
Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) starring Johnny Weissmuller
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) starring Gary Cooper
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) starring Errol Flynn
Wee Willie Winkie (1937) starring Shirley Temple
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) starring Henry Fonda
The Fighting Seabees (1944) starring John Wayne
The Flying Deuces (1939) starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy 
Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942) starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello 
Fancy Pants (1950) starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball 
Son of Paleface (1952) starring Bob Hope, Jane Russell and Roy Rogers
The Miracle Rider (1935) starring Tom Mix
Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939) starring Robert Livingston and Chief Thundercloud
The Lone Ranger (1938) starring Lee Powell and Chief Thundercloud
Zorro Rides Again (1937) starring James Vega
Zorro's Black Whip (1944) starring Linda Stirling
The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) starring Tom Tyler
Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939) starring Reed Hadley
Superman (1948) starring Kirk Alyn 
The Perils of Nyoka (1942) starring Kay Aldridge and Clayton Moore
Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) starring Ronald Reagan and Barbara Stanwyck
Tennessee's Partner (1955) starring Ronald Reagan and John Payne

Link to a map of the 'Rock Stars' in and around the Garden of the Gods Park:

Links to stories about the 'Rock Stars' in and around the Garden of the Gods Park:

Star Trek's -- Bell Ranch Episode

As I pointed out in a previous post the Bell Location Ranch sat high-up on a plateau in the Santa Susanna Mountains overlooking the San Fernando Valley and Chatsworth reservoir.  It was situated on private property just off Box Canyon Road on Studio Road (south of Santa Susana Pass Road) about half way between Chatsworth's Iverson Ranch and Simi Valley's Corriganville.  (See

The ranch was a filming location for many movies including: The Palomino (1950), Carson City (1952), The Man Behind the Gun (1953), Four Guns To The Border (1954), Riding Shotgun (1954), Badlands of Montana (1957), Sierra Stranger (1957) -- photo above, Gunsight Ridge (1957), Face of a Fugitive (1959), The Outrage (1964), The Quick Gun (1964), The Talisman (1966), Hombre (1967), Hard on the Trail (1971), Santee (1973), Assignment: Survive (1988), and Sunset (1988).

Television shows included:  "Gunsmoke" (1955-75) TV Series, "Zorro" (1957-59) TV Series, "The Monroes" (1966) TV Series,  "Dundee and the Culhane" (1967) TV Series -- shot above, "The Big Valley" (1965-69) TV Series, "Bat Masterson" (1958-61) TV Series, and "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1957-63) TV Series. 

Other worldly discovery -- Star Trek visited the Bell Ranch to film one episode in 1968

Star Trek's nineteenth episode of the second season, "A Private Little War" was originally broadcast February 2, 1968 and repeated on August 23, 1968. 

The episode was lensed in a box canyon on a remote part of the lower ranch.  The screenplay by Gene Roddenberry was based on a story by Don Ingalls under the pseudonym Jud Crucis, and directed by Marc Daniels. It was intended as an allegory about America's involvement in the Vietnam War, and has been referred to as the 'Pro-Vietnam War Episode.'

The storyline is a morality tale that examines liberal versus conservative attitudes toward war.  Evil Klingons have armed 'villager people' with flintlock arms who use them to attack 'hill people' who only have bows and arrows thus changing the evolution of the planet's civilization.  The dilemma for the Star Trek crew is whether or not they should arm the hill people with flintlocks to create a balance of power.

It's great fun to find a vintage film or television episode, and then explore a long forgotten film location in search of then and now landscape features.

I have dubbed the rock formation in the lower right corner above as 'cracked dice rock.'

That's all folks… beam me up Scotty!