Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, lies just east of Main Street in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. In their shadow lie the Alabama Hills, one of the world’s most unique geological formations. Just below the Alabama Hills sits the Museum of Western Film History, whose mission is to honor and document the American legacy of western film. Since 1920, over 500 films have been shot in the area. Every western actor has ridden across the screen as filmed in the beautiful and dramatic landscape; and every major western director has crafted his “western” mark into the cowboy legacy of western film against the pallet of the Eastern Sierra.
In 1938, the Lone Ranger, an original radio show from the early 1930’s, was introduced to film audiences by Republic Pictures as a 15-episode serial. Filmed in the Alabama Hills, six Texas Rangers are drawn into a remote canyon and ambushed by a band of outlaws led by Bartholomew “Butch” Cavendish. All are left for dead.
Later, a young Indian named Tonto stumbles on the scene and recognizes the lone survivor, Ranger Reid, as the man who had saved his life at some time in the past. He nurses Reid back to health. Six graves are dug to convince the Cavendish brothers that all have” died” including Reid’s brother, Daniel Reid. To further hide the survivor’s identity, Tonto fashions a black domino mask using material from Daniel Reid’s vest. This, to conceal the identity of the one lone survivor. The moment is the birth of the Lone Ranger.