p of jagged mountains
Department Head - Dr. Christa Hockensmith
and pi ercing sky. These days another sensation can surface, too:
a peculiar sense o
f dread that this gorgeous open territory may soon be swept up by the forces currently diminishing open space in the American West.
Bill and Marian Cook find this a cause for concern. "The West as we know it is rapidly changing," said Cook, a fourth-generation West
erner who has spent his life working with livestock. He is convinced that preservation of open range land is essential, and the way to do so is to explore other means of land use without resorting to subdividing property (when tax situations become unwieldy, or range agriculture is no longer cost-effective). The Cooks have discovered an ideal partnership between the film industry and cattle growing.
"It started to dawn on me, when I saw how eager these movie people were, that I could re-create range land for an alternate use that ha
d some economic value," Cook said. He's quick to point out that he and M
arian "stumbled into" their first film project. Coincidentally, in 19
84, Larry and Mark Kasdan and crew were out scouting the area by helicopter, hoping to find the most suitable place to build the town of Silverado for the movie of the s
ame name. Then one unexpected day, the location manager
for the film appeared at the Cooks' door.
"As I remember, he knocked on the door and said, 'We'd like to do a little shoo
ting here.' " At that time they wanted to build only two
to three structures, offering Cook a "casual number" as a location fee. "There wasn't any great motivation for me one way or another, but I said okay. It just grew from that into a big budget movie and the Silverado set was built," Cook recalled.
According to Marian, it is now the largest set of
Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC):
its kind in the world. However, it almost didn't survive. "After the movie was over," Cook said, "the Film Commission came to me and really pleaded for me to keep the set. I was going to burn it down." Instead he waited through a slow period until another large-scale project, Lon
esome Dove, came along
in 1988. The Silverado set was resourcefully dressed and filmed for towns in four different states, depending on the view from the streets -- mountains or prairie or the Galisteo River. Lonesome Dove also made use of locations farther within the ranch, a trend continuing to this day. Marian points out that a major reason for this is the unobtrusive network of ro
ads enabling companies to get to remote areas, where you'll find anything from z
igzagging arroyos to the foreboding Cerro Pelon to treacherous deep-cut slate and granite canyons, essential elements of true-to-life Westerns.
Then there are those endless airy vistas unique to the Galisteo Basin, an openness reminding one that this is a big ranch, 20,000 acres in all. The Cooks rely on ranch residents Don and Trixie Pope to work with the many film productions.
The Popes raised cattle on the ranch for years b
efore getting involved with t
he filming activity. According to Cook, Don Pope has metamorphosed from a cattleman-farmer, reluctant to deal with Hollywood, to a production-savvy ranch manager ready to grade roads, wrangle livestock and pull stuck generators out of the mud with a log chain on a Caterpill
ar. Pope has learned what it takes
- "It's costing them roughly $200,000 a day to film, so they can't let anything get in their way," he said.
Pope admits he was nervous at first. Aggressively protective of the land, he worried about peop
- The le driving too fast, leaving gates open and taking shortcuts instead of ranch roads. "As Trixie and I got longer in this thing, we learned to let it go. Some of it is absolutely going to happen; it's part
of the territory of makin
- g movies." He still worries about people getting lost, though. "You can't
- have 250 people who aren't used to being out in open range and not
- have somebody get lost." It's easy t
- X-ray Fluorescence
- o take the wrong
- ranch road and get turned around - which is
- what happened to an actress who showed up at the Popes' home miles from the movie set. "We had a little g
The randma at our door. A real grandma, cute as a bug's ear and real excited," Pope said. "They'd been looking all over for her for two hours and were waiting the scene for her."
Daily ranch life brings its share of challenges and so does location filming. There's a spirited team at the Cook Ranch who've learned how to make a success out of both.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
A 1915 circus train maneuvers through verdant high country, car
rying the usual cargo of tents and exotic animals, and to the delight of Indiana Jones fans, the teen-aged Indy played by River Phoenix. In a few short minutes of rapid, punching shots -- delivered in the style of George Lucas and Steven Spi