In film Brokeback Mountain, the village of Rockyford Alberta doubles as Riverton Wyoming (and other towns – read on). In this brief scene, an old building in town is made up to appear as the local US Post Office. A beat-up pickup truck is parked out front. The date is 1967.
A little back story to help set up the scene…
The truck belongs to Ennis Del Mar, one of two main characters in the movie. He’s just received a postcard from Jack Twist, who he used work with many years prior. The two also shared a secret love affair. Jack mentions he’ll be passing through Riverton and that the two should get together. Ennis rushes down to the post office to send a reply (yup, this is how it all worked before email). In the scene Ennis has just pulled up – the old truck is his – and has headed inside, eager to reconnect with his old friend.
It’s not clear what purpose this building had before the movie. We believe it was built after 1930 however. That year a fire destroyed everything on this side of downtown, so it must be from after that event. It’s not much but that’s all we know for now. Research is always ongoing and perhaps we’ll turn up something more. And of course, we always welcome input from the readers of this blog.
The interesting building seen to the left of post office in the movie is now gone. As I understand not long after the film was shot. At one time it was a Red and White grocery store – we’ve seen old pictures confirming that. The current building is an insurance agency.
Ennis drives a mid to late 1950s Chevrolet or GMC pickup. These are often called Apaches although I understand they had many other names, Task Force being another for example. I seem to recall my stepfather once owned a truck like this, equally as beat up, if not worse. Yes it was worse, as hard as that is to believe. He was the king of junkers.
The town of Rockford dates from 1913, the year the railways arrived. This line, built by the Canadian Northern Railway (after the 1920s, Canadian National) was closed down a few years ago. The town’s population is around three hundred and fifty or so.
In addition to portraying Riverton Wyoming, Rockyford also doubles as Childress Texas (dance hall, actually an old bank, and the rodeo grounds) and Electra Texas (rodeo grounds). Interestingly, the Alberta towns of Calgary, Crossfield, Blackie and Fort MacLeod also stand in for Riverton in various scenes. In the movie what is supposedly a block or two distance can actually be hundred of kilometres apart. Having one town stand in for another is nothing new in the movies.
Brokeback Mountain was filmed in 2004 and released the following year to critical acclaim. It stars Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist. It’s based on the short story of the same name.
Like all the then and now reports we do (many) we use only our detective skills to find the locations needed. It’d be easier if we simply relied on others who have already done the work. For example we could have used the website findingbrokeback.com here, but that would take away much of the fun. We like a good challenge.
There are more then and nows to do in Rockyford. We left some undone this pass as we always like to leave something behind so we have reason to return.
Images from the movie are copyright Focus Features.
We shot another Brokeback then and now while in town. See it here…
Brokeback Contain then and now – Childress Rodeo
To see some other movie then and now posts we’ve done, follow these links…
Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge – then and now.
Superman 3 then and now – opening scenes.
Silver Streak movie then and now – paper burning scene.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: May, 2014.
Location: Rockyford, AB.