Young Duke Morrison's very first movie location was Glendwood Springs, Colorado. In 1926, he was invited to come along and help Tom Mix stay in shape during the filming of The Great K&A Train Robbery. The former USC student had come a long way when he returned to Colorado in 1969 to do his oscar-winning True Grit. This picture shows the entrance to the "Ross homestead" as it is today. Located on Last Dollar Road, off Highway 62, on the road from Ridgway to Telluride.
The finale of True Grit took place on top of the hill overlooking the farmhouses at Lost Dollar Road. They had the first part of the sequence in the can but it snowed that night, so director Hathaway decided to re-shoot the whole scene. This photo was taken during the first day without snow.
"Come see a fat old man sometime": The place where Rooster jumped the fence. The location of McAlester's Store can be found closeby. Follow Highway 62 further up, take the cutoff that leads to the area called Horsefly Mesa.
The gallows was built in Hartwell Park in the middle of Ridgway, located on scenic U.S. Route 550 and coined "Gateway to the San Juans". They constructed the shell of Judge Parker’s courthouse from which the “Hanging Judge” supervises the execution on Lena Street.
Henry Hathaway had used the town of Ridgway before. Hatwell Park in the middle of town is where Gregory Peck offers his services to Debbie Reynolds in How the West Was Won.
After Rooster Cogburn delivers his prisoners in a caged wagon, he walks downstairs to take a side entrance. In 1985, the True Grit Café was built on this empty lot.
View from the terrace of the True Grit Café on the spot where Rooster made his entrance. The establishment honors the movie and its star.
The place actually encloses the original location: The external wall on which the art department painted “Chambers Grocery” is now the internal south wall of the restaurant.
Rooster's paddy wagon (seen here during renovation in 2017) is usually parked in its place of honor downtown.
To the left of Clinton Street is the lot where Cheng Lee’s shop was.
On the corner of North Lena and Clinton, the Old Ridgway Fire Station bell tower was added for the movie (originally a high school building).
Mattie’s father got shot down on Lena Street, in front of the “Fort Smith Saloon”. What used to be a movie saloon is now the place of an Adventure Sports store.
The old stone house at Clinton – that’s where Hank Worden acted as an embalmer.
The courtroom scenes were merged: outdoor shots of the shell built for the movie in Ridgway on Lena Street cut to...
...the real courthouse in Ouray, ten miles from Ridgway. The time-honored county courthouse stands on 4th Street. The scene on the stair as well as the courtroom sequence were shot inside.
The art department built the snakpit in the Ouray area, where Million Dollar Highway cuts to the right onto Camp Bird Road. The remains of the pit are on private property.
Several locations can be found along the Owl Creek Pass. With Chimeny Rock rising above Deb’s Meadow, near the summit, this was the perfect place for Rooster’s showdown with Lucky Ned Pepper.
When Rooster's horse got shot, it went down...
...right here, in front of this boulder on Deb's Meadow. Again, Hathaway had used that location before, in How the West Was Won, in a scene with Debbie Reynolds. Some people say that's how the meadow got its name.
Also on Deb's Meadow, even though it's right next to the shootout location: the place where they made camp and Glen Campbell shot the turkey.
Follow the road to the summit until you reach a loop and you will find the place of the last camp. This is...
...Cimarron Range in the background of the scene where Rooster hits the bottle a little too hard and Mattie...
...goes to sleep under this rock which the locals now call the "Sleeping Rock".
The Blue Mesa Reservoir east of Montrose on Highway 50 was the location of the ferry sequence. The water was much lower then; this location is now underwater.
The movie town known to moviemakers and tourists alike was Bucksin Joe. That's Wil Anderson going to town in The Cowboys. MGM built it in 1957, eight miles west of Canon City, Colorado. Its most important characteristic was that it was fromed with around thirty authentic, 100-year-old log buildings from the Colorady frontier, assembled there into an old western-style town. The owners developed the location into a theme park. That all ended in 2010 when Bucksin Joe was sold. A billionaire purchased it as a whole. All that was left were the original entrance boundary stones and a couple of unwanted wooden planks, left in the grass (see picture above). The town was moved to his ranch near Gunnison. Ironically, Gunnison was used as a location in The Searchers.
That's the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad you see in the title sequence of The Sons of Katie Elder, steaming up the forty-five miles of track between Durango, Colorado, and Silverton...
...and even though Wayne himself didn't ride in it, the museum at the Durango depot proudly devotes some rolling stock to him. The heritage railroad has run continuously since 1881.
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All pictures posted on this website are from the collection of the author, unless otherwise noted