I grew up with TV westerns like Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger and other fictional heroes of the Old West. Many scenes of these and others were set in an area of large boulders, arroyos and canyons in which the bad guys and the Indians could lie in wait for opportunities to ambush the guys in the white hats. If one studied the scenes carefully enough they would notice that they were all identical; the same rocks, canyons and other formations.
I didn’t learn until many years later that the westerns, as well as many other TV shows and movies, including “Gunga Din”, “How the West Was Won”, “Star Wars” and, most recently, “Django Unchained”, were shot in the Alabama Hills. The Hills are located between Lone Pine, CA and the Sierra Nevada and they are one of the many interesting places in California for me. Myths exist that have erroneously stated that the Alabama Hills are an ancient formation but the reality is that they are not. They were uplifted in recent geologic times along with the Sierra and eroded relatively quickly into the round and odd shapes of today.
The naming of the Alabama Hills is an interesting story. During the War Between the States, there were both Confederate and Union sympathizers throughout California. In 1864, Confederate sympathizers discovered gold in the Alabama Hills and named them after the CSS Alabama which had destroyed or captured over 60 Union ships. However, Union sympathizers from nearby Independence discovered metals in the Inyo Mountains and named Kearsarge Peak, Kearsarge Pass and the town of Kearsarge after the USS Kearsarge which finally sank the Alabama in 1864.
As I’ve hiked in the Alabama Hills, I have found many formations that resemble animals and I find much fun trying to capture these imaginary creatures in my camera. During my first visit I found a dog in the rocks. My border collie Pepper wasn’t impressed, though. Later I found other creatures from a fantasy world.
What do you see?