I’ve always avoided staying at Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley — storied history and great location but a bit too pricey for just a bland motel room. But Mexican Hat, where we stayed last night [Tuesday] and where I’ve bunked a couple of times previously, has been decimated by the pandemic. Relatively few visitors, no wifi, the color and vitality all but disappeared. So screw it — we’ve decided to move to Goulding’s later this morning. You only live once.

Deadline‘s Todd McCarthy: “You should go out to John Ford Point and take some snaps. The Gouldings, who homesteaded there in the 1920s, set up the trading post and eventually opened the lodge, drove their jalopy to Hollywood in the late ’30s to try to attract some Hollywood interest in filming there in order to raise some money for the locals. They somehow got in to see [producer] Walter Wanger, who brought Ford in to look at photos the Gouldings had brought along. The rest is history. With the Depression still on, just the short time the Stagecoach crew shot there helped the local economy considerably.

John Huston had some good stories about having visited there in the early ’30s.

“Of course no one living there now, including the people who run the lodge, knows anything about the Gouldings.

“I went there many times from the mid ’70s through the ’90s, and there were always far more foreign tourists there than Americans — first the French, then Italians and, at one point, Russians. The last time I was there, maybe 10 years ago (the food was terrible!), it was overrun by Japanese. For years there was a religiously affiliated hospital tucked into a little ravine just around the side and back from Gouldings, but for reasons that were never clearly explained to me they were asked to leave some years back, which was unfortunate for health care reasons.

“One indelble memory I have, probably from about 20 years ago, is being on the north side of the Valley in the shadow of one of the big buttes. It’s utterly still and quiet, but then I hear a roar, just a low distant rumbling at first that gradually becomes louder and louder until it feels like something is right on top of me. But I can see nothing. Then suddenly, from over the top of the butte roars a B-52 at probably no higher than 300 feet. Absolutely petrifying. Have no idea what the hell was going on, why it was flying so low or what it was doing around Monument Valley in the first place. Utterly surreal.

“Have a great time!”

HE to McCarthy: I will definitely visit John Ford point — thanks! Is that the location of the Searchers home (Ethan’s brother’s place which was burned)? I also want to find where the big climactic charge from Fort Apache was filmed. I was hoping there’d be an app for this stuff but nope.

I’m presuming that Ford, Wayne, Henry Fonda, Ward Bond and other Ford Co. elites stayed at Goulding’s while the crew slept in tents or in no-account hovels in Kayenta, and used temporary showers and latrines.
The Wanger meeting must have happened in mid to late ‘38. The Depression was still going strong when Stagecoach opened in ‘39? It didn’t really go away, I realize, until the WWII economy.

“This poor blighted area is suffering under the Covid Trump depression, I can tell you. When a motel decides to yank its wifi to save money…that’s serious. For me that’s almost like shutting off the hot water.”