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Geysers on Film

Speaking of geysers on film, I thought I'd toss out a few other places where geothermal features become part of a movie's set or otherwise make an appearance.

One prominent example is the John Wayne film North to Alaska. None of it was filmed there, with the Wayne character's mining shack located at Hot Creek, Calif. instead. In almost every outdoor scene you can see one or more springs sputtering away, and their sounds are prominent in the audio background.

The terraces at Mammoth make an appearance as the planet Vulcan in the first Star Trek movie. At that point, I usually tune out because I've seen all the special effects that I care about.

There is a winter scene of Charleton Heston as an 1830s fur trapper climbing around Castle Geyser in The Mountain Men.

I'm sure there are more, and will try to add to this list as I hear about them or see them. The database lists a number of films with Yellowstone as a location, but no details on what or where in Yellowstone was filmed. There are a lot of silent shorts from around 1901 listed, and it would be interesting to know more about them, and how to get access to them.

And then there's all the cartoon characters from Yogi Bear to Elmer Fudd who've been shot out of Old Faithful, but I'll leave building that list to someone else.

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Mickey Hot Spring

Last night I was killing time in the worst possible way: flipping channels on the television. But every so often you get rewarded. In this case I stumbled across a documentary which had a segment on small fish living in Borax Lake in Oregon's Lake Alvord desert area. The narrator mentioned geothermal activity being important, and knowing that there are geysers in the area, I decided to stick around and see if they had any real information.

The show was Oregon Field Guide, produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. This episode was first broadcast on 01 February 2007,which means that it was probably filmed during the summer of 2006.

After the segment ended began a "photo-essay" on Mickey Hot Spring. So there was more information. Mickey is known to have geyser activity, and would it appear here? After the usual obligatory shots of things like dead dragonflies in a tepid, watery mud-pot, the camera operator concentrated on a small sputtering feature. I noticed that it appeared that the intensity of this sputtering varied, and in backcountry areas, that's always a good sign that a feature is worth watching some more.

In this case, the payoff came just as the credits started to roll. Suddenly the little pool next to the sputtering vent started to erupt, to maybe a foot or so, but it was a definite eruption. It might have lasted only a few seconds, but that's hard to tell thanks to the editing. But at least we have documentary proof of geyser activity at Mickey in 2006.

Unfortunately, the show's website doesn't include this clip, so you'll have to hope your local PBS station(s) show it. Here in the Seattle area, according to the listings it was suppsed to be rebroadcast again during this week on KCTS Channel 9, but now the updated listings don't show it.