Orvis Cattle Co. - The Big Country Locations
Several people have asked about where some of the scenes in the Big Country were filmed. Most of the green ranch scenes (as opposed to the desert ranch scenes) were filmed near on or near Snow Ranch.
Part of the stage run at the beginning of the movie was filmed along Copperopolis Road near the intersection with the Farmington Road. They took the fence down and built a dirt road in the field parallel to the highway. The stage ran down the dirt road and the camera car ran down the paved road. During the stage scene, if you look at the lower right corner of the screen, you can see a little of the ditch that runs along the edge of the paved road.
Several scenes were filmed on this field. A road that you cannot see in this image runs along the base of the hill at the left of center, curves up and goes over to the trees near the center of the image. Part of the stage scene was filmed on this road. The buckboard/ambush scene was filmed over next to the trees and along this road.
Ambush1 - At the beginning of the movie, Gregory Peck and Carol Baker are in a buckboard that is ambushed by Chuck Conners and his men. The buckboard runs along this road and up the hill to the left of the trees.
Ambush2 - Just before they ambush the buckboard, Chuck Conners and his men are hanging out just to the right of the trees in Ambush1. Some of them are sitting on a log. As you can see, the trees are down and there is not much left of the log (a lot can happen in 50 years). The creek has also eroded a bit into the area where the scene was shot but you can still match the rocks and bushes in the background.
At one point in this scene, Chuck throws a knife that goes between the toes of one of his men. When Chuck swings his hand back to throw the knife, he actually drops it and swings his hand forward. The knife you see in the scene is actually sliding down a wire where it was launched with a spring. I used to know where the nail was in that log where the wire attached.
Ambush3 - This picture looks in the other direction. The tree's are no longer there and the rocks are hidden behind the new trees and blackberry bushes. The granite rock you can see peaking out of the trees is the one just above and to the right of Chuck's head in the right picture..
Ambush4 - The buckboard is seen traveling along the hill top, but this hill top is not along the road shown above but is along the hill top behind Chuck conners in Ambush2.
Ambush5 - This picture looks back the other direction from the hill to the left of the trees in Ambush1. Chuck Conners and his men are waiting for the buckboard.
Ambush6 - Chuck Coneners and his men try to flag down the buck board but are almost run over in the process.
When Gregory Peck is riding about the ranch alone, he stops on a hilltop, checks his map, and rides on. This image is the background for that shot. You can see a few of my friends that were flying model rockets in the background.
The Big Muddy is actually Rock Creek or Little John's Creek where they pass through the Groves Ranch. If you follow the link above the pictures you will see the Groves ranch and part of the Farmington reservoir. I believe the oxbow in the creek shown in these pictures is currently under water to the left of the center of the map.
One of the mansions and the town were also in this general area.
Here I caught Martha the stunt double filling in for Jean Simmons.
Jim Schwartz took these pictures of Red Rock Canyon and matched them to the Blanco Canyon scenes from the movie.
First is a map of Red Rock Canyon.
As you drive north on Hwy 14 and entering Red Rock Canyon, a couple of miles ahead and you will see the first movie site, highly visible from the hwy and located on your right hand side. I took that pic around noon time, the camera pointing west. Note, that in the movie that sequence was taken much later in the afternoon.
As you leave that area keep driving and another mile or so on Hwy 14 and you'll see a sign on your left hand side "Hagen canyon", there is a parking area and a short hike approx 1/4 mile, to Blanco Canyon. Blanco canyon is a box canyon, and I took that pic between 10 and 11 AM the camera pointing south/southwest.
Blanco canyon, showing the acropolis, same time and the camera pointing south.
Blanco Canyon, around 11 AM, the camera pointing north/northwest.
Blanco Canyon and a close-up of the previous picture, the camera pointing west.
After the movie was finished, the buildings in the town were moved to Pollardville to the north of Stockton. These pictures were also taken by Jim Schwartz.
These are the actual buildings now located in Pollardville few miles North of Stockton.
For additional information, there is a Wikipedia Page on the movie.
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