(EDIT (2/6/11): this location has been updated. This blog entry is very old so make sure you see the rest of blogs and video I did on it. Please click the tag below or this link to get all three blogs I did on this location. Also, be sure to check out Clint Spooks 'Em too.)
I have posted some unique pictures of Mono Lake in another entry. Unique in the sense they are from a different angle and high point than one normally sees of the lake. Go HERE for those.
Years ago my brother and I went looking for the town of "Lago" where the movie High Plains Drifter was exclusively filmed. Admittedly, since we did this long before I really started looking for old movie locations these pictures are close, but not as close as I could do today. One of these days I might go back and see if I can be a bit more precise on these. In fact, the gps coords above don't get you to the pictures below. They get you to the Navy Beach plaque which leads you to the South Tufa of Mono Lake. You then follow the road and head more to the north or northwest along the lake.
As a side note, Navy Beach was where the U.S. Navy did some top secret experimental work during the cold war era. It closed down in 1962. There is a tour of the wildlife nearby. Okay, to the pictures:
At the beginning of the movie, Clint rides down from the background (that's actually were the gps coords are at). You will notice in the following picture I have about 1/3 of the movie picture. If you compare the left hand side you can match up about 1/3 of it.
Mono Lake has a history of different water levels. I do not think the town where "Lago" appeared in the movie has had any issues of water reaching it or past it. I could be wrong though. You can see the two main islands in this lake. I have not seen Fair Wind to Java with Fred MacMurray, but to this day those islands are referred to as Krakatoa and Java due to that movie being filmed here. In location hunting these days I would take the above picture above to the site and probably head to my left (north) to line up the mountain peaks in the background with the islands, thus, getting a more precise shot. Also, I need to be higher behind me.
Another shot nearby. One thing about Mono Lake is that during the summer it is very hot. The general rule of thumb that I go by is any lake to the east of the 395 is going to be a fire lake. Usually very dry and not very much fun. I was there last year hiking the northern side to some caves. I was glad I did it early in the morning because by the time I finally reached my truck I was dying for water. It is a desert area regardless of the salt water you see. Remember, Clint did turn the town of "Lago" into "Hell" for a reason. ;)
Again, Clint is just arriving in town.
I am not really sure about this, but you can see the piece of land that darts out into the water in the background. It is possible my picture below is a trace of that.
When the outlaws get out of jail they show up from the south to southeastern side of the lake. Close to where you see the first two pictures above. This movie is interesting to me because they filmed almost every scene here, but all the indoor sets appear to have been made and filmed here too.
The Return to Lago (Youtube Version)
The Return to Lago (Vimeo Version)