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As It Was: The Big Screen Features Burney Falls

Summer in Shasta County can feel as hot as the Sahara Desert, but on one occasion the Burney Falls State Park doubled in the movies as a cool spot in the African jungle.

The falls drops 129 feet into a 29-foot-deep pool in its namesake park, an hour’s drive east of Redding, Calif.

The park has long been a cool getaway from hot Northern California summer days while also providing  a picturesque backdrop for several movies.  The waterfall was featured in the 1988 film titled “Willow” and several television commercials.  The earliest film to feature Burney Falls, titled “The Outlaw, was produced in 1957.  The following year Burney Falls was featured in the film titled “Tarzan’s Fight For Life” starring Gordon Scott.  While some scenes were filmed in Africa, the crew also came to Shasta County, filming on Hat Creek, the Pit River and Burney Falls.

In the movie, Tarzan carries Jane around the dangerous falls and his son pushes a canoe over the falls into the pool for Tarzan to retrieve it.

The pool is usually a chilly 42 degrees, even on the hottest days.


Sources: Scott, Gordon, and Eve Brent, Actors. Tarzan's Fight For Life. Edgar R. Burroughs, MGM, 1958, https://vimeo.com/128686435. Accessed 24 July 2017; Wikipedia: Burney Falls, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 10 Mar. 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McArthur%E2%80%93Burney_Falls_Memorial_State_Park. Accessed 24 July 2017; Barnaby, Jon. YouTube: The Parson and the Outlaw, YouTube, 21 Oct. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOogLu8DmlM. Accessed 24 July 2017.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.