To continue with our celebration of the 44th anniversary of the debut of the original Star Trek television series this week, we will take a look at Vasquez Rocks, a Los Angeles County park near Agua Dulce that was used as a filming site in just about every series and film in the long Star Trek franchise.
Vasquez Rocks is a 900-acre collection of jagged rocks jutting out of the ground at 45-degree angles like compound fractures piercing through the Earth’s skin. The rocks were named for legendary bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, who was said to have used the area as a hideout during his reign of crime in the mid-1800s.
The area has been used for motion pictures since the earliest days of filming and has been seen literally thousands of times on film. Every cowboy of note filmed here including John Wayne, who began his career as “Singing Sandy,” the very first singing cowboy, in a series of B-Westerns shot here in the 1930s.
More recently, the rocks have served as backdrops for dozens of films, television episodes, and commercials. A host of music videos have been shot here as well, including a portion of Black or White by Michael Jackson.
Vasquez Rocks has functioned as something of a totem for Star Trek, having shown up in three of the films, and in episodes from at least four of the television series. The rocks appeared four times in the original series, including the episode called “Arena” in which Kirk has to battle the reptilian Gorn.
In Star Trek, last year’s reboot of the film series, the rocks modeled for the planet Vulcan, which imploded due to a black hole placed inside the planet and claimed the life of Spock’s mother (played by Winona Ryder). Although the area is only seen in the movie for a matter of moments, park officials claim that the filming took several weeks.
Vasquez Rocks has become so linked to the Star Trek franchise, that whenever news leaks out that a new movie is in the works, fans have been known to show up at the gates to catch a glimpse of the filming, merely on the assumption that the park will be used in the film.