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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Once Upon a Time in the West - Revisiting The Arch

This article is not directly LVC related, but fans of Sergio Leone and Spaghetti Westerns will instantly recognize the above image... the remains of the arch from Once Upon a Time in the West.

During a recent trip to Monument Valley, I was able to track down the precise area and visit this fantastic location.

Released in 1968, the majority of the film was shot in Spain, but 2 key scenes were shot in the US, as Leone wanted to use historic Monument Valley as a backdrop.

1968 vs 2013
Below are a few photos from my recent trip to the remains of the historic hanging arch.  Click to enlarge!

The truck/dolly tracks from the tracking shot are still in place.


 Coming over the horizon just as Frank (Henry Fonda) did.

I had to bring a harmonica!

While the majority of the arch is gone, it is still an impresive size!


  1. Such a shame this has just been allowed to deteriorate away. Was this built by Leone for the film or was it already a structure that existed?

  2. It was built for the film.

  3. Where is the exact location of the arch... is the Rd 432? Thanks.

  4. 37° 7'45.83"N 109°58'24.87"W in case anyone wants to know ;) .

  5. Was there in June 2016 and found it with the help of a Indian teen working at a nearby gas station in Mexican Hat, Utah. The road to the site isn't marked. Brought home a piece of brick used in the foundation of the arch. Shame that it looks like it's used as some sort of hang-out for folks. Trash and empty beer bottles were everywhere.

    1. So how many pieces of brick can people take away before there's nothing left? But hey, who cares? You're alright, right!

    2. You're 100% right, Archie. It's a shame people can't just visit a historic filming location and be satisfied that they saw it in person, they feel the need to take part of the location for themselves. Take until there's nothing left for those who visit it after them to see. Sadly, this is similar to the brick fireplace from The Evil Dead in Tennessee.

  6. Note that the distance between the mountains and the arch seems smaller in the Leone film. The director used a tele, probably a 200mm or 300mm lens. You photographed with a compact camera equivalent to 28mm, I think.

  7. Another detail - the scene was filmed at dawn when the light is smoother and gave a dream note to the scene. You photographed around noon (picture 4) when the shadows are "hard."

  8. Being this is on Navajo land is it open to the general public?