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Best of the Tetons

Into the Valley

“SHANE” — The Epic Western Movie Filmed in Jackson Hole

Good Against Evil — Shot with the Majestic Grand Teton Range as a Backdrop.

Shane DVD CoverThis movie was filmed in 1951 and released in 1953. That was a year before I was born. Now, 61 years later, I am at the foot of the mountains used as the backdrop for the movie. Any kid growing up in the ’50s was immersed with TV Westerns like Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, and the Lone Ranger (just to name a few).  I’ve seen SHANE on TV countless times, purchased it on VHS, and again on DVD. This page is presented “through my eyes” as a 27 year JH resident. The page as some screen grabs from the movie along with a few of my own photos. This Feature Post also relies on the research of JH local, Walt Farmer who spent most of his adult life researching movies filmed here in “the Hole”. (See the comments about the screen grabs at the end of the page)

Get The Movie!

Shane at Wal-Mart | Shane at Amazon.com | Shane on NetFlix if you have an account: | Shane on eBay: | Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum

Prices range from about $4 used to $6 new up to $15.

Watch the Trailer!

Shane at Amazon.com or Shane movie trailer on YouTube. (The version on Amazon is probably higher quality)

Get Walt Farmer’s Informative CD!

“Wyoming – A History of Film and Video in the 20th Century” CD by Walt Farmer. To be honest, the interface for this CD is terrible! You can get an idea by looking at the web page linked here. I paid around $40 for CD. BUT, the CD is absolutely loaded with information, and I think worth it! If you have trouble ordering the CD through the web site, contact the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum. Walt gave quite a bit of his collection of Shane memorabilia to the museum. Sadly, Walt passed away in January of 2014. If you are a western buff, movie buff, or just love Jackson Hole, the $40 cost might be well worth it. I will pull information from the CD for this page, but could never relay all of Walt’s research on this site.

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The Movie Locations:

Intro & Homesteads

Into the Valley

George Steven’s “Shane” (1953) with Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, & Jack Palance

Teton Pass

Teton Pass: This intro shot was taken at the top of Teton Pass. The current highway was still in the scene, though the shot lasted briefly as Shane rode into the JH valley. The Old Pass Road is still accessible and is used as a bike path and walking path today. I’m sure the road would be digitally removed if shot for a contemporary movie.

Entering the Valley

Entering the Valley: The old “switercheroo”! In the first scene, Shane is seen entering from the West, heading down the pass into the town of Wilson. In the next scene, he’s all the way over on the Gros Ventre road area, dropping into the valley from the Southeast. The pasture in the middle of the scene is the grassy field along the north side of the road to the Old Science School. Ditch Creek is running through the center of the frame.

Deer Watching Shane Approach

Deer Watching Shane Approach: This is a screen grab of the movie trailer. You can see a white truck in the distance. For the shot in the actual movie, Shane rides up dead center over the antlers of the deer and then across. The truck was not in the movie.

Joey Starrett Running to the Cabin

Joey Starrett Running to the Cabin: This is a shot of little Joey running to get his father after seeing Shane riding up. This site is west of the Kelly Warm Springs and on the north side of the irrigation ditch exiting it. The Kelly Warm Springs appeared not long after the big land slide “up the Gros Ventre” in 1927. The valley residents called it the “Miracle Pool” as it allowed the farmers to irrigate the valley floor instead of relying on dry land farming techniques.

Shane Approaching

Shane Approaching: Off in the distance, you can see the scars of the Gros Ventre Slide which formed Slide Lake. Shane can be seen riding up.

Deer in Water

Deer in Water: This shot shows more of the homestead. It was built for the movie, then torn down afterwards.

Mike’s Cloud Comments: You’re probably not supposed to be paying attention, but it is not uncommon in the movie to see clouds in one scene, then missing in another sequential scene.

Walt Farmer’s Comments: Walt wrote a section about the water and ditches. According to his research, some of the important filming took place during “haying” time, so the farmers turned off the irrigation gates. The film company opened them, flooded the scene, got their shots, and then had to stop when the farmers shut them off again.

Ranch Shot

Elevated Homestead Shot: The irrigation ditch coming out of the Kelly Warm Springs swings across the valley floor and up to Antelope Flats road. The residents had to build an innovative “water bridge” over Ditch Creek, some of which remains today. The old ditch was seen numerous times in the movie.

JohnMoultonSunrise1964_textIf you go to the Kelly Warm Springs now, you might notice there is much less water coming out of the springs than in 1952 and 1953. That is echoed in the historic old photos taken by Al Pounian in 1963 as seen on this page: The Moulton Barns: 1963-1965

Incoming Dead

Incoming Dead: After being gunned down by Wilson in town, Torey is being brought to the Starretts homestead draped over his horse. In the distance, you can see a few other buildings along Mormon Row with Blacktail Butte in the middle left. The dark trees in the middle of the scene are mostly gone now.

Early Roads Comments: Back “in the day”, there were dirt roads criss-crossing the entire valley. Over they years, the Park Service has closed many of them and allowed them to return back to sagebrush. Film crews would have had no problems getting to the movie locations, but you now would need to wade through mature fields of sagebrush and bitter brush. There are no existing roads to this site and almost no trails.

Elk Refuge Cabin

The Lewis Homestead: Seen briefly in the movie. Lewis and his family were feeling the pressure from Ryker and his gang and were ready to pull up stakes.  This site is effectively inaccessible to the public. It is located on the National Elk Refuge which requires all visitors to stay ON THE ROADS. It was located along upper Flat Creek. Additionally, the area is behind a fenced off area along the creek.

 

Shane CabinSaddle and Harnesses Building: After filming the “Saddles and Harnesses” building was moved to a location at the base of Snow King Mountain, than later to a home at the JH Historical Society research offices on Mercill Ave. I’ve driven by them hundreds of times and not paid much attention.

Shane Cabin PlaqueThe Shane Cabin Plaque: The plaque is mounted to the front of the cabin. It indicates the cabin was built in 1951, but does not mention it was built specifically for the town scene.  (Click either of these two thumbnails to see the larger)

Ernie Wright Cabin

The Ernie Wright (Shane Cabin): In this shot, Ernie Wright is packing up his wagon to get out of the valley for good. Ryker’s boys are seen here stampeding a herd of cattle across his newly plowed fields. The fields are now covered with sagebrush. This cabin is only seen in the movie for a few minutes. Walt Farmer says the site was owned by Roy Chambers at the time.

Shane Cabin Moran Dec2010Mike’s Comments: This cabin is often called the “Shane Cabin”. In fact, I created a post called The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park. In the post, I explained some of the issues leading to the confusion. Historically speaking, Luther Taylor homesteaded the area and built the cabin and outbuildings. Giving him all due respect, we should all be calling this the Taylor Cabin(s), similar to the Cunningham Cabin. The Park Service has never dignified the site with any sort of marker or plaque, so it is easy to see how later confusion can arise. I bumped into Roy Chambers one day at Smith’s grocery store and we had a nice, long conversation. He told me he was born in the small “Chambers Cabin Homestead” on Mormon Row. He is now over 90 years old and his mind is as sharp as a tack. Unlike the other structures in the show, this was a historic old site and was not torn down after the movie production. It is, however, in considerable disrepair compared to what it looked like above. That’s too bad! This site is accessible to the public all year long. The link above has a map to help you find it.

The Creation of Grand Teton National Park—A thumbnail history of the park that was written in honor of the park’s fiftieth anniversary in 2000.” This page is from GTNP’s site explaining how and when the parts of the park were created. The last section, the part of the park east of the Snake River, was added in 1950, consisting largely of homesteads and farms as seen in the photo above.

The Town & Surrounding Sites

Rodeo and Races

Rodeo and Races: This is a scene showing a horse race through town. An earlier shot had a bronc rider bouncing through town as Ryker and his bunch schemed on ways to run settlers from the valley.

Town

Town: Town consisted of half a dozen wooden structures and a couple of tents. Grafton’s store and saloon were in the middle. These two riders were heading into town for supplies and drink. Only one rode off sitting on his saddle. The other one was draped over his saddle after Wilson sent a message to all homesteaders.

Cemetery Hill

Cemetery Hill: This is a similar shot showing more of Cemetery Hill. “Three Tree Hill” can be seen along the left.

Mike’s Historical Notes: If you were standing on this hill and looking towards the mountains in the summer, you’d likely see a stream of campers, trucks and cars traveling across the landscape. It’d be a cinematic nightmare. But, it was not problem in 1952! The highway linking Moose Junction with Moran Junction was not built until 1957/1958. Travelers at the time had to drive along the base of the mountains on the Teton Park Road or on the dirt road running along the east side of the valley. Check out this earlier Feature Post: Early Roads in Grand Teton National Park:

Leaving Cemetery Hill

Leaving Cemetery Hill: At the end of the funeral, smoke is seen coming from the Lewis Homestead. Ranchers promise to help rebuild if he stays, so they rush off to salvage as much as they can. Smoke is seen coming off an area just south of Three Tree Hill, indicating the cabin is not that far off. In fact, the Lewis site is quite a few miles south on the Refuge. The current Lost Creek Ranch is located at the base of the hill behind this little knoll. The town, Cemetery Hill, and Three Tree Hill are all located southwest of there. If you purchase Walt Farmer’s CD, he supplies maps and GPS coordinates for these locations, along with the Starrett Homestead.

Three Tree Hill

Three Tree Hill: In quite a few scenes, riders pass by these three trees on their way to town. Shane passes by it in the night on his way to the big finale. Interestingly, the two cowboys in the shot above are the same two crossing in front of Cemetery Hill a couple of shots above. Sequentially, they’d have had to double back to cross through the trees on their way to town…but this is show business! Walt Farmer reports the three trees were planted on the edge of the hill for effect. I don’t believe they survived, and of course it has been over 60 years since filming.

Schwabacher Crossing

Schwabacher Crossing: You almost have to recognize this iconic scene in GTNP! Shane crosses the stream, rides up the bank, then crosses again. Even when I saw this scene when I was younger, I wondered why they’d need to, or want to cross the stream twice? In 1952 or 1953, Schwabacher landing had a lot more current than the trickle we have now. According to Walt Farmer, all night scenes were filmed in daylight, then darkened in post production. Artistic license is again at play here.

Three Tree Hill at Night

Three Tree Hill at Night: Shane, in his gunfighter duds, heading into town to square off with Wilson.

Shane in Town

Shane in Town: This scene shows Three Tree Hill in the distance, with Mt. Jackson along the far sky line. Well, I won’t give the ending away. Just watch the movie trailer!

Oh yes…in the last scene of the movie, we get to see Shane riding the other direction over Teton Pass!

The Greatest Story of the West Ever Filmed!

This quote comes off one of the many lobby cards and posters created for this film. If you’d like to see a LOT more of them, pick up Walt Farmer’s CD.

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Other Links and Resources:

Legality of using Screen Grabs for a blog post?

Before making this post, I did a few web searches, questioning whether I could or should use screen grabs from the movie. As you can guess, I found all kinds of pages with comments like, “I do it all the time and I never got caught” to this one written by a law student specializing in intellectual rights.  Ask the Law Geek: Is publishing screenshots Fair Use? Yes, I know, I’d be better off asking a lawyer with a degree, but this is the best I can do for now. IF anyone with rights to the movie asks me to remove the images, I will do so immediately. I am relying on this parameter found on his page: The purpose and character of the use: Reproduction for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research is not copyright infringement. This probably covers most blogs and personal websites, but there are other factors to consider.”

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Comments (11)

  1. Lowell Schechter

    Hi Mike
    I remember the movie Shane and was not sure where they filmed it. The movie studios were starting to follow the ways of John Ford and start filming more on location then the studios. obviously most interior shooting was still done in studios but now even in the 50’s and early 60’s movies were done on location and in the case of Shane , that might have been great publicity for Grand Teton National Park. I have to take the movie out of the library or pick up a DVD copy to see it. Thanks for posting a very interesting blog.

  2. john maher

    Thanks for the scenes and comments.I saw Shane when I was 14- then I read the book.It is good to revisit the opening scene.

  3. Tony Burkeen

    I have often wondered if the Shane seen at Cemetery Hill was really real thank you for posting and the detail in each post

  4. Eric Payne

    Hello I live in the UK and as an avid fan of the film ‘Shane’ ever since first viewing it back in ’94,at the age of 14, I would like to thank you so much for this fascinating blog. So many details I had not read about previously.
    You make mention of Walt Farmer and his CD ROM. Perhaps you could tell me – on two or three occasions over the past 3/4 years I have attempted to purchase a copy of this but I never get any response from the web site. I believe Walt died not too long ago – do you know if this CD ROM is still available? I must have watched Shane hundreds of times over the years and in fact it was on our TV just a couple of days ago. Look forward to hearing from you.

  5. Hi Eric, contact the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum and you should be able to order his CD. That’s where I bought mine! Good luck, MJ

  6. Carole Atkins Smith

    The Tetons were greater than I had expected. We made a trip summer 2016. Loved the area and the Western scenes. Your blog was very well written and informative. On our return trip, hopefully we will meet you. Our farm demands much time with our horses and cattle here in NC. The history of the Mormon Trail and The Oregon Trail kept me interested as we passed through the country where our families migrated to The West. Our plan is to visit some cattle ranches and horse ranches the next trip. Also, I will be painting local scenery as my husband does some riding.

  7. Derek Hargrave

    Shane is the best film ever made. Every aspect is excellent, the actors, the story, the background, the music. I have watched it scores of times and even though I know every characters words by heart, i still get a thrill watching it.

  8. Yes I agree Shane is ne of the best movie made about the old west/. I graduated from High School in 1953, It’s been one of my all time best pictures all thee years !

    GREAT MOVIE !!!

  9. Readers here might get a kick out seeing Shane in the new “LOGAN”(X-Man Wolverine) movie. I watched it tonight here in Jackson Hole and the audience was clapping when they saw the Tetons in the scenes of the movie.

  10. I saw the movie in 1953. I have loved the movie ever since..I’ll be going to the sites again this fall, I guess this is why I still own ranches today.

  11. Shane Movie Locations Check out this page for the actual sites. MJ

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