Good Against Evil — Shot with the Majestic Grand Teton Range as a Backdrop.
This movie was filmed in 1952 and released in 1953. That was a year before I was born. Now, 61 years later, here 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—with the aid of some screen grabs from the movie and augmented with a few of my own photos. This page is 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!
Prices range from about $4 used to $6 new up to $15.
Watch the Trailer!
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.
The Movie Locations:
Intro & Homesteads
George Steven’s “Shane” (1953) with Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, & Jack Palance
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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.
If 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: 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.
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. The old cabin was moved from the site to Snow King Resort and later (2004) to a home at the JH Historical Society site on Mercill in Jackson.
The Lewis Homestead as it looks today. There are four or five old buildings lined up behind the JH Historical Society research offices on Mercill Ave. I’ve driven by them hundreds of times and not paid much attention. I’d love to see them all get a great new location someday.
The Shane Cabin Plaque: The plaque is mounted to the front of the cabin. It indicates the cabin was built in 1951. I don’t know if it was built specifically for the movie. Neither the Historical Society or Walt Farmer mentions this issue. Needless to say, some people might be surprised to hear this is the Shane Cabin. (Click either of these two thumbnails to see the larger)
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.
Mike’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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Shane, in his gunfighter duds, heading into town to square off with Wilson.
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.
Other Links and Resources:
- The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park: a previous Feature Post with lots of photos and maps.
- “Wyoming – A History of Film and Video in the 20th Century” CD by Walt Farmer.
- Entering Wyoming: A Page about Shane
- Shane (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Shane movie trailer on YouTube
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.”