Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trees of Katie Elder

Earlier this year we watched The Sons of Katie Elder. It was a great classic Western. In the final shoot-out, however, the forest really stole the show. The trees were huge and the roots gnarly. They were clustered at water's edge and (in the movie) growing near a triple waterfall. Surely this place must be famous. The movie poster, here, integrates the trees into the action. WOW!

Where is that forest and what kind of trees are they? Time for some forestry forensics!

IMDB mentions many filming locations in Durango, Mexico. One location is El Saltillo, Durango.  And bingo, if you google images for "El Saltillo Durango Mexico", you get many images with the waterfalls and some with the trees. Aha!

I found someone's blog  (in Spanish) and it looks like he visited this forest which he calls "arboles de Sabino (Taxodium mucronatum) El Saltito en Nombre de Dios Durango Mexico". Googling "El Saltito en Nombre de Dios" gets more pictures of the falls. Here's a video of the falls.

YES that is a person on the left!
This is from the Monumental Trees page for the
Montezuma cypress trees close to the church
of Santa María de la Asunción in Santa María del Tule
Names for this tree are: sabino, Montezuma cypress, ciprés, pénjamu, Mexican cypress, āhuēhuētl, and Ahuehuete. The tree grows to a fabulously large size, so much so that one multi-trunked tree in Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico is considered the stoutest tree in the world. This tree gets a bit of space on the Monumental Tree website's "Biggest Tree in the World" page.

Hmmm, I'm seeing that maybe Taxodium mucronatum might now be Taxodium hueglii???

Back to the movie. Because I could not find any good images online from the movie, here are some snaps to show these amazing trees. To admire these Montezuma cypresses yourself, check out the movie.
Of course, these are the bad guys.
The guy in black is James Gregory (Morgan Hastings).
The others will be identified shortly.
Familiar faces, I'm sure, to fans of westerns.
The triple waterfalls,
El Saltito, Cascada en Nombre de Dios

Over the river.
The tree to the left of the bridge.

Montezuma cypress is usually associated with water,
but can live without when it gets older.

John Wayne (John Elder)

The trees were front and center in the action.

Not sure which Elder brother (Bud? Matt?)

So now I wondered if there any big Montezuma cypresses in California.

This little tree is marked as a Taxodium mucronatum, I think.
I need to check again.
The Boy Scouts map of trees says there is a Montezuma cypress in this area.
Close up of the foliage.
There is a new survey for the park's trees.
When it has been published here,
I will check.

Some good references:

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