This section is primarily constructed from information and photos sent in by Bill Peterson after his August '03 Fandango road trip (thanks Bill!). There's also a great site detailing the Fandango movie locations at , including location maps.
On this page:
Toyah School (Frat House and Restroom?)
Bill Peterson:A couple of internet posts suggest that the frat house and restroom scenes where shot on a set built in an abandoned school in Toyah, Texas. I stopped by to check it out. The building is easily the biggest building in Toyah, and it must have been quite beautiful in its' day. The building obviously has not been used in a long time, and it is dilapidated and with all of the doors and windows boarded. I ignored the "posted - no trespassing" sign, and managed to squeeze through a crack in the plywood to explore the basement.
It was pretty creepy, with remnants of several dead animals scattered around in the dark rooms. There was a staircase leading up to the first and second levels, but it was dark up there so I chickened out. So, anyone with a good flashlight and a sense of adventure can go check it out. I tried to learn more about the school, but I literally could not find one person in the city. It really is a ghost town. A indicated that the second floor of the school was converted to a gym in the 1960's - I bet the sets were located there. The school is located on the Northern side of town - you can't miss it. GPS coordinates: N31º 19.000', W103º 47.569'.
Jerry Bandy, Watauga, Texas: I visited a web site about Toyah, Texas and came across a picture of an abandoned school that may have been used as a set in Fandango. It was listed that the only sets were for the bathroom scene and the frat party scene. The picture was taken by Jason Penney. The website is (scroll down to 'Toyah Elementary and High School').
Man it's amazing what some of these old folks remember.....the architect and builder was Albert Bruce. The schools in Pyote and Royalty are supposed to be exactly the same as Toyah's and designed and built by him. The lady that knew this was a granddaughter of Albert Bruce.
Site of the McLean Massacre
Read Buzz and Jessica's full story on our FAN'S STORIES page
Buzz: We made it to the site of the McLean Massacre. We got there after dark, but got a photo of me and one of my daughters standing next to the marker. It is nothing like the one in the movie. It also is in a completely different location than shown in Fandango. This marker was beside a two-lane, paved county road, in the piney woods of east Texas, about 10 feet off the road in someone's front yard. The piney woods is an area of rolling hills forested with very tall pine trees and dense underbrush. This makes me wonder a few things:
- Why did Kevin Reynolds select such an historically obscure marker, from the middle of nowhere Texas? (the neares towns are Elkhart and Slocum. Each have populations under 2000).
- Did he have the marker shown in the movie made, or did he buy it from the state when the latest marker was erected?
- Where was the location shown in the film? I want to go there as well.
We plan a Fandango of our own and want to hit as many of the sites as possible. If there's any way you can get the answers, I'd love to hear them. Do you have any contact information for Kevin Reynolds? Once I finish the roll of film, I'll scan and send images of the current marker to you. The text is as shown in the movie, but engraved into a stone tablet about 5 feet tall.
Alex: Unfortunately I have no contact info for Kevin Reynolds (I've no idea if he is on the web or knows of this site's existence), but I shall forward your mail to Chuck in case he has any info...
Dustin L. Campbell: I noticed that there is some confusion as to the location of the "McClean Massacre" scene in the movie. I will only add to the confusion with my findings. The official Texas Historical Commission Texas Historical Marker Atlas database () lists the McClean Massacre Historical Marker near Palestine, Texas, which is in the Northeast Texas Pineywoods - far removed from the West Texas landscape in the movie setting by about 500 miles.
I can't recall the exact spelling or the text of the Historical Marker in the movie. My search was only for "McClean". The database does allow for searches of phrases, etc. of the Marker full text so I will try to watch the movie again and search the database using some unique keywords from the Marker text to see if we can get a match (or one of the Fandango Fans can do it as I am busy these days). If we can find the exact marker, the database will provide directions to the site.
Tim Parsons (El Chango Borracho Studios): There seems to be a lot of controversy on your site concerning just where the Sonic is located. Let me clear that up: it's the Sonic in Alpine, TX. My older brother, Brent and his girlfriend (and future wife), Laura were extras on "Fandango" for this scene. Laura was picked to get in a car and make out with another extra. My brother, who was also there as an extra, stepped up and let it be known that if anyone was going to be making out with Laura, it had better be him, her boyfriend. Exceptions were made, and, you guessed it, Brent and Laura are the couple making out in the car that Dorman is stealing fries from in the film. They now live outside of Austin and show the video to their kids as "mom and dad's romantic film debut". They will get a kick out your site and especially some long overdue, um, "acting credit"...
Not only did I know people involved in that scene (including Mr. Bill "...two chili dogs and a malt" Evridge, the father of a classmate of mine), but I watched it being filmed from across the street that evening with the members of my inebriated softball team. I can remember watching them do several takes of what looked like the Groovers arriving (on foot) at the Sonic with Dorman carrying Lester over his shoulder (do you ever see Lester's carcass anywhere in the Sonic scene or during the highjinks after?? Hmmmmmm). This was all before Costner was anybody and Nelson was still a year away from becoming a "Brat Pack"er. Still, having the one-way blocked for a Hollywood film was a big deal in little Alpine TX....
Bob's Older Brother: The sonic in Alpine was the drive-in used in the movie. I was there while they were filming it and got laid by one of the girl extras in the cruising scene.
Mitch London: The sonic where they pick up the girls was shot in Alpine, TX. I should know I lived there for 7 years and the sonic is still in the same location to this day and is open for business.
Bill Peterson: The Sonic drive-in, that supposedly is in Marfa, Texas, is actually in Alpine, Texas. The Alpine Visitor's Center confirmed that the filming occurred there in 1983. The Visitor's Center suggested that the library at Sul Ross University may have information on the filming in their archives. I paid them a visit, and all they could offer was a full year of the "Alpine Avalanche" newspaper on microfilm with the suggestion "there's probably an article in there somewhere". I'll leave it to a more diehard Groover-wannabe to do that piece of research. The Sonic is located on the corner of E. Holland and N. Garrett streets in downtown Alpine. GPS coordinates: N30º 21.530', W103º 39.385'.
Swede: Photo from my 2005
location-hunt road trip.
(Click on thumbnail to zoom in.)
Mitch London: A friend of mine insists the fireworks graveyard scene was shot at the Marfa cemetery.
Bill Peterson: Mitch's friend is right; I found the cemetary in Marfa and was able to correlate several of the photos I took with scenes from the movie. I could find no one in town who knew anything about the movie, so I could not get any further details. I could not find the headstone of "Cpl. Charles T. Soloman (the grave marker shown in the movie), so I assume that it was a prop. The cemetery (named "Cementerio de la Merced") is located on the western edge of Marfa, about a mile from the center of the city, on Highway 90. GPS coordinates: N30º 18.474', W104º 02.357'.
Swede: Photo from my 2005
location-hunt road trip.
(Click on thumbnail to zoom in.)
The Gas Station
Tim Parsons (El Chango Borracho Studios): This might clear up some confusion is the actual location of the gas station where the Groovers get Phil's car patched up. The scene is supposed to be taking place in Marfa, but the actual gas station where they filmed it is in Marathon, TX. I know this because I took some friends down to Big Bend National Park on a camping excursion (I now live in Dallas) in early 2000. There are two entrances to the Park, one through Alpine, and one through Marathon. We were exiting the park via the Marathon route and stopped at a gas station there.
I started realizing how familiar the place looked, and on further inspection inside the place, noticed that they had a wall full of old photos taken of the (Fandango) filming that had occurred there 16 yrs previous. When I inquired about it, I got a slew of anecdotes from the now very animated proprietor. It was cool to note that, after all that time had passed, the guy still gets excited reliving it and telling the stories. This was a couple of years ago now, but as far as I know, the station is still operating on the main Hwy (90) through town in Marathon, looks much the same, and has a great wall full of many behind-the-scenes shots.
Bill Peterson: Just like the Sonic, the gas station that is supposed to be in Marfa is actually in another city - Marathon, Texas. The gas station is still in operation and hasn't changed too much. The car wash (wherePhil gets a bath) is still behind the station, but no longer in operation. The owner of the station said the gas station and car wash scenes were filmed in a single long day, with many curious residents crowded around to watch the action.
Just like the Sonic, the gas station that is supposed to be in Marfa is actually in another city - Marathon, Texas. The gas station is still in operation and hasn't changed too much. The car wash (where Phil gets a bath) is still behind the station, but no longer in operation. The owner of the station said the gas station and car wash scenes were filmed in a single long day, with many curious residents crowded around to watch the action.
The owner (shown right in the bottom photo, beneath the still from the film) was actually part of the filming - he was hiding inside the station, and after each take he would unlock the front door to allow the actor portraying him to come back inside the station for another take. When I asked him when the filming occurred, he pulled out the original agreement that he had with Warner brothers. It was dated "2/22/83", and specified that filming would take place in "May, 1983".
Warner Brothers paid him 0 for the use of his station (0 was the estimated amount of revenue he ost by closing his station for a day). There's a single, faded-out Polaroid picture of Costner with his arm around the owner of the gas station on display inside. Incidentally, the shooting of this scene was originally scheduled for an old Texaco station in Marfa, but that building was destroyed before the scene could be filmed. The location scout found this similar gas station in Marathon. The gas station is located on Highway 90 at Avenue F in Marathon. GPS coordinates: N30º 12.369', W103º 14.608'.
Swede: Photos from my 2005 location-hunt road trip.
The Giant Set
Tim Parsons (El Chango Borracho Studios): I really don't think that anything much has remained of the old "Giant" Reata movie location for quite some time, even in the early '70's when "Fandango" was set. I have a friend who owns an old photo of the facade when it was still barely recognizable as a house, but decayed and falling to pieces and I think it's circa the early/mid 60's. Nowadays there's only some random lumber from the scaffolding visible in the distance from the Hwy, but that's it. For those making a pilgrimage, the remains can be found between Marfa and Valentine, TX on Hwy 90 approx 10 miles east of Valentine looking south (it's about 35 miles between Marfa and Valentine... that means the Groovers would've had to walk 25 miles out of Marfa to crash at the old Giant set and then the same amount to get back the next morning.... quite an amble).
Pecos Parachute School
Chuck 'Dorman' Bush: I'm going to have to knock out some of the cobwebs in my head, but I believe that the Parachute School as at Rattlesnake Air Force Base in Toya, Texas.
Jay Shinn: Your site mentions that Rattlesnake Airforce Base is in Toya, TX. I believe that it is (or was) located in Pyote, TX and I think that it is now a minimum security prison.
Steve Berry: The Pyote airbase (where the Truman's hanger is) was used after the war as a storage facility for surplus aircraft and the Enola Gay was kept there after the war before being sent to the Smithsonian....only a part of the old hanger remains today & is on state land its on the west side of the old base and about 1/4 mile south of I-20, approach at your own risk.
I grew up & still spend quite a bit of time in the areas where this movie was shot and used to run around and hunt on the old airbase at Pyote... also been around the bigbend area where more scenes were shot... many of the people in Alpine that were in the movie still live there.
Bill Peterson: Driving down Interstate 20 in West Texas, no one would guess that the concrete ruins rising up from the scrub brush were once an air force base, much less the setting of one of the funniest scenes ever filmed. The Pecos Parachute School, aka Rattlesnake AFB, aka Pyote Air Force Station has been reduced to a concrete shell of what once was a large airplane hanger. Truman would be disappointed to learn that no resort development has happened yet. The (a fairly intimidating-looking "secure juvenile detention facility") has been built on the eastern edge of the property, at least a half mile from the hangers. I struck up a conversation with one of the guards at the facility - he said that he was living at the base while the movie was being filmed, and his father actually worked security on the set.
He said that the film crew was onsite for almost two months to prepare the site and do the filming. He also confirmed that the concrete pillars visible from the highway are indeed the remnants of the hanger where the movie was filmed, and where the Enola Gay was once stored. The remains of the hanger are about ½ mile south of the interstate, and I would have ventured out for a closer look if it were not for my dislike of rattlesnakes and imprisonment (the tarmac is now used for Texas Department of Public Safety training, according to the guard). There are some good close-up photos of the hanger available on this . To get to the location, take the Pyote exit off of Interstate 20 (about 40 miles west of Odessa), then turn right on the feeder road on the south side of the freeway. You will pass the State School and then see the remnants of the hangar off to your left (i.e. south of the freeway). GPS coordinates: N31º 31.630', W103º 08.015'.
Chata Ortega's Bar & Grill
Bill Peterson: Just a few miles west of Pecos Parachute School (and nowhere near the border, despite Gardner's assertion) is Chata Ortega's. The desolate setting suggests that it was built as a set, but a peek inside reveals kitchen appliances, restaurant furniture and other indicators that this was once an actual "Bar and Grill" as claimed by the sign out front. The front of the building is in pretty good shape - all of the painting is still visible. But if you want to see Chata Ortega's, you should do it soon. The entire back of the place is collapsing (see photo below right) and the front can't be far behind.
Chata Ortega's is located between Toyah and Pecos on Interstate 20. Take the Shaw Road exit (exit 29), turn west on the feeder road on the south side of the interstate, and you will see the building about a mile down on your left (i.e. south of the freeway), about 50 yards south of the feeder road. Just hop the barbed wire fence (there's no one around to stop you) and you have the run of the place. GPS coordinates: N31º 21.047', W103º 42.751'.
Well guys, kind of an anticlimax.....but Chata Ortega's was nothing more than a small house used by the migrant workers back when Pecos had so many cotton and cantaloupe farms. It belonged to John Oates and was just a small stucco house long abandoned when the cost of natural gas made it too expensive to irrigate. My wife's family is from Pecos and it took my sister in law about an hour to find an old timer that knew the story. Man it's amazing what some of these old folks remember.....She also said that they were going to burn down Chata's in the movie when the Groovers left, but decided it would be too risky as far as a grass fire etc. and painted the burned area on instead.
The property has "NO TRESSPASSING" signs posted. The local sheriff may arrest you for trespassing. Please email Jeff if you plan to visit and I will get you permission from one of the owners for a visit.
Swede: Photos from my 2005
location-hunt road trip.
The Dom Rock
Chuck: The Dom Rock is in another location on the Rio Grande. I'll have to look at some of my old memorabilia to get the name.
Wade: DOM is located between Lajitas and Presidio on FM170. It is on the biggest hill on that road with GPS coordinates of N29.29607 W103.94179.
Karl Leslie: Actually Alex, there is an easier way to get to Dom without having to rely on GPS: From Ben's Lounge (don't break the pool cues, they're bucks each), go north on FM170, through Presidio, pass the state park... once you get to the Tee Pee's, make a 'U wee', go back to the top of the 'big hill' and park next to the green trash can. Head towards the river. You can't miss it! I've camped at LaKiva and hiked to the bar, once a year for the last 5 years. I'm the man in the know when it comes to Big Bend, Lajitas, Mexican Strange (the donkey lady), etc.
Dean Pierce: I'm almost positive the Robert Rodriguez movie "SPY KIDS 2" used the DOM site for one of it's scenes. It's the scene where the kids are fighting animated skeletons. The rock where Kevin Costner threw the champagne bottle from is featured prominently. The rock where DOM was written has been altered.
Bill Peterson: The rock is still there and in fine shape. In fact, there is still a hole at the base where Gardner dug up the Dom. The first "DOM" inscription, from Kevin Reynold's college trip, I believe, is still visible as well (but much more faint) on another rock about 20 feet above the rock used in Fandango (see photo). While I was visiting, a local showed up and said that this location was a popular vista long before the Fandango movie. He confirmed that it was the movie crew that inscribed "DOM" on the rock.
Some of the directions listed on your site are incorrect. The DOM rock is located between Lajitas and Presidio on Highway FM170. Specifically, the rock is 13.5 miles north of Lajitas, 1.5 miles north of the rest area with teepee shaped shelters, and 36.5 miles south of the Highway 67 intersection in Presidio. It is located on the highest hill on FM170. Just park your car on the shoulder (see photo above right), hike about 50 feet toward the river, and voila - DOM. GPS coordinates: 29°17'45.65"N 103°56'30.27"W .
Swede: Photos from my 2005 location-hunt road trip.
Plane/Helicopter chase scene
Got this today....great story Thanks, Joel
I ran across your great “Fandango” site while trying to place the “Giant” mansion remnants in an attempt to locate them via Google Earth. In doing so, I also checked out your on “Fandango’s” location info and I thought you might find this interesting.
The plane/helicopter chase scene was, indeed, filmed in Tulsa, OK, and I say this only because I was a member of the local stagehands union (IATSE Local 354) and was recruited as an “extra” crew member to augment the Hollywood guys for this filming sequence. We worked only one day, a Saturday, and the filming was completed in a single take as the intersecting highways had to be temporarily closed during the sequence. The specific location was the intersection of Highway 169 and US412/I-244 on the northeast side of Tulsa and just southeast of Tulsa International Airport.
I was selected to work as a gaffer on the shoot and assisted in digging out and camouflaging a camera location, which sat immediately adjacent to the westbound I-244 lanes and looked east, in a position to film the aircraft approaching the overpass. After locating a camera position and digging out the underbrush and grass to create a flat position, I was instructed to cut down a small tree underneath the overpass, remove individual branches and return up the embankment to create a foliage blind for the camera. At the same time, another gaffer was stretching out a brightly colored plastic tape (similar to crime scene tape), to create an east-west alignment line, which the aircraft and helicopter pilots could use to guide them underneath the underpass. Shortly thereafter the highways were shut down and were immediately followed by a “rehearsal” run and moments later, the actual run itself. I seem to recall this took around 15 minutes.
I have attached an overview from Google Maps, which I have added to provide some clarity on the location. The red line denotes the flight path underneath the overpass and my particular camera position is marked with a yellow asterisk. I should note that for obvious reasons, there were, as I recall, 1 or 2 other camera positions but I cannot recall where they were.
I will add that following filming, we were bused to lunch at a nearby La Quinta motel, where we were served an unforgettable buffet-style lunch. (This is common on movie shoots as craft services folks take very good care of the Hollywood and local crews!) While I do not specifically recall what it was to be, some additional scenes were scheduled in the afternoon and were to be shot in the general area. However shortly before our call back time, a really nasty severe thunderstorm formed, which nixed further shooting for the day.
Chip Ellsworth: The scene where Truman goes to pickup Suzy Amis's character in "Dallas" was actual shot in Tulsa, OK. My father-in-law used to own a helicopter company in Stroud, OK and the film crew leased one of his helicopters for the chase scene. This helicopter was actually red and white, but they used tape to make it blue and white for the movie. My father-in-law said he thought that Truman's airplane belonged to Kevin Reynolds or was given to him after the movie.
Truman drops off the girl
Swede: I found (by happenstance) the rest area where Truman drops the girl off for the wedding. Though the buildings are no longer there, the mountains and ditch in the background give it away. It is off of Texas Hwy 20, between Fort Hancock and San Elizario. Google earth co-ordinates 31°23'10.96"N 105°58'55.78"W
The Gazebo (the Wedding Scene)
Chuck 'Dorman' Bush: The gazebo is located in the center of San Elizario, Texas near El Paso so it shouldn't be too hard for you to locate. This gazebo was already there when we came to town, but our construction guys made some additions. Two dear friends of mine were married in that same gazebo during the filming of Fandango: he was our First Aid Tech, Todd Adelman.
Todd J. Adelman: I'm the guy that actually was married in the gazebo in San Elizario, Texas. Nancy and I are still married and we live in Oregon, where we have a ranch and a 15 year old son. We plan to go back to San Elizario in June 2003 (we were married on the 2nd at 2 am) to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I wouldn't have believed there would be a Fandango site! Of course, every time it is on I have to watch it again also! Take care. Hi to Chuck, Brian, the Kevins and all you other Groovers.
Bill Peterson: The San Elizario town square where the wedding took place has received a major facelift. The gazebo has been completely rebuilt, most of the big trees were removed, the benches were replaced, and an enormous historical marker was erected. I met Ben Sanchez, the curator of the local museum, and he said that the renovations were done in the early 1990's. Ben told me that the phone that was used in the scene was just a prop. I could not find the road where Truman landed with the bride.
Ben, a lifelong San Elizario resident, did not recognize the scene at all (I showed him a still picture I captured from the tape), so I suppose it was shot elsewhere. The gazebo is easy to find - take Interstate 10 about 15 miles east of El Paso, use exit 42, and follow the signs to San Elizario (about 5 miles south of the freeway). GPS coordinates: N31º 35.094', W106º 16.398'.
Swede: Photos from my 2005
location-hunt road trip.
TRAIN/WATER SKI "WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE"
The Train/Water skiing site is as close as I can get from the directions Hal has given me.
Google Earth Co-ordinates are 31°48'6.44"N 104° 4'33.94"W
Sorry....no pictures yet JEFF
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