High Desert Memories - A Hometown Journal Commemorating Ridgecrest California
The Pinnacles
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Ben Yeakey
Ben Yeakey
Ben Yeakey
Ben Yeakey
  These formations are actually Tufa towers similar to those in Mono Lake, these are bigger and thicker.  There are some 500 towers which are quite delicate, some 140 feet tall.   

    The pinnacles were formed 10,000 to 100,000 years ago, when valleys of the area were filled with water and made a great chain of lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley. Over several thousand years, these tufa formations developed into small reefs, providing mineral-rich algae a sunlit surface area on which to grow. Stony molds of those fossilized algae cells still cling to the pinnacles.

   The spires have shown up as the backdrop in at least 19 television shows and films, including "Star Trek V," "Lost in Space," "ER" and the remake of "Planet of the Apes."

A photo tour of the area is available
HERE.   Important visitors data for visiting the Pinnacles is located here.   Desert USA's website has a picture tour of the area here.   A description of the geologic formation of these Tufa Spires is located here.
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Ben Yeakey
Ben Yeakey
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Tom & Lee  Strickland
Ben Yeakey
Ben Yeakey
Tom & Lee  Strickland
    I knocked around Hollywood after graduating from Burroughs in '59 with a few degrees under my belt and ended up as Broadcast Director at a small advertising agency in LA. We handled a small car account called Datsun in Torrance. We know them now as Nissan. One day the Datsun man came into my office and wanted to film something "way out there" to introduce the '69's. He wasn't thinking of a location, just an idea. But I immediately thought of  the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine or the Trona Pinnacles, two of my favorite haunts. Why not, no one had ever filmed there and we had no script, so I knew a great location would be important to launch the campaign. BLM informed me that Lone Pine had seen lots of production, the Pinnacles had no TV Commercial filming record in l968. Perfect. That weekend I drove to the Pinnacles, took some pictures and sold the location the following Monday. Datsun people loved the place. I budgeted a three day shoot for $35,000 including seven different cars, two truck trailers, two grip trucks, a chopper, a model,  two motor homes and some 20 crew members. No location fees or environmental concerns from BLM. Just go, take only pictures, leave only footprints (and tire tracks behind). Imagine that today. We stayed at the Miracle Mile Motel and hired some cooks from Ridgecrest so we could "campout" so to speak. October was a pleasant month that year. I filmed two :60 second spots, my favorite was called Caravan which was just that, a single line of Datsuns snaking their way through the Pinnacles, dust and all. Some of you will remember the old Trona Road hiway Warning sign reading" 75 miles of bad road No gas No water" at the turnoff. I noticed that was gone, bullet holes and all by l973. The commercials worked, sold lots of cars in l969-70. The girl was a friend of the Datsun man. You know how that goes. I also remember a car dealer in San Diego calling the CEO of  Nissan months later complaining about all the sand up inside the frame and motor "which was unusual for a new car from Japan".  I have no idea to this day what he was talking about.
Even after thirty years, the Pinnacles look better to me than the car. This was our hero shot which was only a few seconds in the minute commercial. It was used for Print mostly.
The chopper turned out to be our best production tool as we followed the cars moving about the Pinnacles. The best part for me was flying just a few feet above the Pinnacles. It was easier than climbing them as I had over the years as a member of The China Lake Mt. Rescue Group.
The first TV commercial film crew of twenty arrived at the Pinnacles in l969 according to BLM records. It was windy as usual but a fine memory. I guess I was use to the brisk desert wind compared to what the others were wearing.
This state sign at the Pinnacles turnoff on the Trona Road warned all travelers that it was a long way to Wingate. It was gone by l973. Sally is thirty years older too.
Pinnacles Survive Their First Film Crew
By Doug Huse
All photos and text submitted by Doug Huse
The
Datsun
Lineup
For
1969

   Its hard to believe that cars used to look like that without all the curves and swoops of todays line up. 
 
  . . . . and then came Planet of the Apes
Pam Noyes
Pam Noyes
Pam Noyes
Pam Noyes
Pam Noyes
Pam Noyes