A Silent Movie Map of the United States of America: What’s Your State’s Picture?

There’s a reasonably well-established online fad of creating a map and then showing the most popular or representative thing for various regions. For example, the most popular fruits in each state of the USA. Well, why not do the same with silent movies?

Before we get started, here are some noted and disclaimers:

  • I am not saying these films are the best or first or most representative, just that they were either shot in the state or portray the state.
  • I’m using the modern 50 state map and not the 48 state map of the silent era.
  • Some states had very few choices while others had an embarrassment of riches. My selections in the latter case were 100% arbitrary.
  • Some films were made in more than one state. In fact, many of them were. This list makes no claims of exclusivity.
  • I crowdsourced the project on Twitter and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who responded.
  • In the interest of fun and enjoyment, I tried my best not to include pro-Confederacy pictures. (Some of these movies are lost or not yet accessible to the public so I make no absolute promises but that was the goal.)
  • Some films were shot on location and some were not. I will try to note the actual location shoots, survival status, availability, etc. but this list should not viewed as exhaustive.
  • This map was created in the spirit of fun and while I absolutely welcome people sharing their own choices, I am not going to argue about mine. (This may seem obvious but the TANTRUMS that were thrown last time I did anything like this… yikes.)
  • I am aware that some of these films are available on YouTube but for legal purposes, I do not link to any videos that are not official releases from studios, historical societies, archives or collectors of good repute. This is not open to debate.
  • Check disc regions before ordering.

The Map

Click here to see full-size image.

The Movies

Alabama – One Clear Call (1922)

A real blood and thunder melodrama set in a small Alabama town with Milton Sills playing a noble physician who saves his patient from lynching.

The film survives in the George Eastman House.

Alaska – The Chechahcos (1924)

Produced and filmed in Alaska, this is a red hot melodrama complete with dogsled chase.

The film survives and is free to stream courtesy of the NFPF.

Arizona – A Modern Musketeer (1917)

Who could possibly resist Douglas Fairbanks performing a handstand on the edge of the actual Grand Canyon? Not me.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Arkansas – Hot Springs, Arkansas (1911)

An educational short showcasing an ostrich ranch and an alligator ranch, according to marketing materials.

Survival status unknown, check those attics.

California – Girl Shy (1924)

This is my home state and the headquarters of the American film industry. Girl Shy showcases the city and country streets of Southern California in a fun, fast-paced chase. I am pretty happy with that.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Colorado – The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926)

Western superstar Tom Mix’s production team shot this western on location in Colorado.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Connecticut – Betty of Greystone (1916)

A Dorothy Gish vehicle with some location photography in Connecticut.

The film survives but is not yet available on home media.

Delaware – Emmy of Stork’s Nest (1915)

A country girl picture starring Mary Miles Minter, who had started to reach her height of fame and popularity. Shot on location.

Missing and presumed lost, check those attics.

Florida – The Flying Ace (1926)

A smashing little indie adventure picture aimed at silent era African American audiences and shot in Jacksonville.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Georgia – Somewhere in Georgia (1917)

A real collector’s item here: Ty Cobb plays… Ty Cobb in a fictionalized biopic of his life story.

Missing and presumed lost, check those attics.

Hawaii – The Hawaiian Islands (1924)

This documentary made by the Ford Motor Company showcases the people and landscape of Hawaii.

The film survives and is available to stream courtesy of the National Archive.

Idaho – The Grub Stake (1923)

Independent and outdoorsy filmmaker Nell Shipman went on location with Idaho doubling for Alaska.

The film survives and was released on an out-of-print DVD.

Illinois – Mr. Flip (1909)

Ben Turpin comedy about a man who harasses women and is hilariously punished by each in turn. Often credited as the first cinematic pie in the face but it ain’t necessarily so.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Indiana – The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1924)

A new schoolmaster in a small town finds love and stumbles onto a mystery. New York stands in for Indiana.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Iowa – A Woman of the World (1925)

A positively delightful rom-com about a European countess trying to get away from it all in Iowa. She has a past, a cigarette holder and a tattoo. California stands in for Iowa.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Kansas – Kansas Saloon Smashers (1901)

The Edison film company portrayed the Kansas temperance campaign of Carrie Nation using sets and a considerable amount of slapstick.

The film survives and was released on an out-of-print DVD.

Kentucky – The Kentucky Derby (1922)

A horse-racing picture (shocking, I know) starring Reginald Denny and likely has another location standing in for Kentucky.

The film survives but is not yet on home media.

Louisiana – The Red Kimono (1925)

A sordid story of prostitution and murder notable for the deep bench of top female talent behind the camera: Dorothy Davenport, Dorothy Arzner, Adela Rogers St. Johns. California stands in for New Orleans.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Just Maine Folks (1912)

A comedy about a Portland fella chasing off his romantic rival with spooky ghost stories.

The film survives and is available to stream.

Maryland – Annapolis (1928)

A Naval Academy picture that sounds like it’s in the Tell It to the Marines style. It was shot with full military cooperation and ads boasted that Navy recruiting stations would help publicize the screenings.

The film survives but is not yet available on home media.

Massachusetts – Down to the Sea in Ships (1922)

This whaling drama made extensive use of Massachusetts locations and featured a very young Clara Bow.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Michigan – Eleven P.M. (1928)

Deliciously strange tale of a man betrayed by everyone he loves. Shot in Detroit.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Mississippi – A Gentleman from Mississippi (1914)

The adventures of a freshman senator from Mississippi and his troubles with a con man. Likely shot in New Jersey, reviews of the time praised its southern atmosphere and some scenery shots may have been taken on location.

Missing and presumed lost, check those attics.

Missouri – Tom Sawyer (1917)

This adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic novel was shot in location in Missouri.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Minnesota – Mantrap (1926)

Big Bear fills in for Minnesota but Clara Bow is the real deal. She plays a manicurist in a May-December marriage with a backwoodsman.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Montana – The Devil Horse (1926)

This Hal Roach-produced western shot on location in Montana for four months. Features Rex the Wonder Horse, who (along with Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno) was deemed to have “IT.”

The film survives and is available on DVD.

Nebraska – Kearney and Its People in Motion Pictures (1926)

A public service documentary showcasing the people and places of Kearney, Nebraska.

Excerpts have been posted online by History Nebraska.

Nevada – The Iron Horse (1924)

John Ford’s railroad epic did some location shooting in Nevada and the results are pretty spectacular.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

New Hampshire – The Wrong Mr. Fox (1917)

Through a case of mistaken identity and similarly-named towns, Victor Moore ends up in New Hampshire.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

New Jersey – A Girl’s Folly (1917)

This showbiz dramedy shows the film production of Fort Lee, New Jersey in extensive detail and is well worth seeing for that alone.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

New Mexico – A Fair Exchange (1911)

Selig’s ad for the movie stated “This play is full of strong dramatic situations and good comedy scenes and is imbued throughout with all the atmosphere of romantic New Mexico.”

No word on survival status, check those attics!

New York – What Happened on 23rd Street (1901)

Shocking things, that’s what!

The film survives and is available to stream courtesy of the Library of Congress.

North Carolina – Stark Love (1927)

Shot on location and using mostly local talent, this is a melodrama that showcases its setting with assertive realism.

The film survives but is not yet available on home media.

North Dakota – Love Me (1918)

A Dorothy Dalton vehicle about romance and bridge construction. It was likely shot with Inceville doubling for North Dakota.

The film survives in the Library of Congress.

Ohio – The Perils of Society (1917)

Shot on location in Cleveland by pioneering cinematographer and director Katherine Russell Bleecker, who made pictures with amateur talent found in smart Ohio society.

The film survives and is available on DVD from the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Oklahoma – The Daughter of Dawn (1920)

An independent production shot on location and featuring a cast made up entirely of Comanche and Kiowa performers.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Oregon – City Girl (1930)

F.W. Murnau’s acclaimed classic was shot on location in the state and the landscape is just as much a character as the people are.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Pennsylvania – The Show Off (1926)

This comedy stars Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson and Louise Brooks and was partially shot in Philadelphia.

The film survives and was released on a now out-of-print DVD.

Rhode Island – American Aristocracy (1916)

A breezy Douglas Fairbanks vehicle with location shots.

The film survives and is available on DVD.

South Carolina – Pied Piper Malone (1924)

A sailors and sea vessel drama starring Thomas Meighan. The production filmed extensively in Georgetown, South Carolina.

The film survives but is not yet on home media.

South Dakota – The Homesteader (1919)

Iconic independent filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s feature film debut based on his novel of the same name. Shot in and around Winner, South Dakota.

Missing and presumed lost, check those attics!

Tennessee – In the Tennessee Hills (1915)

A “You must pay the rent! I can’t pay the rent!” melodrama set in Tennessee but likely filmed elsewhere.

Available for digital download.

Texas – Wings (1927)

This WWI aviation classic was partially shot in San Antonio.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Utah – Nevada (1927)

Despite its title, this picture was shot on location in Utah and starred a very young Gary Cooper.

The film survives but is not yet available on home media.

Vermont – A Vermont Romance (1916)

Shot entirely on location throughout the state of Vermont, this melodrama has more melo than you can shake a stick at.

The film survives but is not yet available on home media.

Virginia – The Steadfast Heart (1923)

This romance featured exteriors shot on location in Fredericksburg and Falmouth.

The film survives but is not yet on home media.

Washington – Eyes of the Totem (1927)

Shot in Tacoma by W.S. Van Dyke, thought lost for decades, a copy of this picture resurfaces and has been screened at film festivals.

The film is not yet available on home media.

West Virginia – Stage Struck (1925)

Gloria Swanson’s backstage picture was partially shot on location in New Martinsville, West Virginia.

The film survives and is available on DVD and Bluray.

Wisconsin – The Lumberjack (1914)

Shot on location in Wausau, Wisconsin with a cast made up entirely of locals. Prime example of the itinerant filmmaking style.

The film survives and was released on DVD and Bluray.

Wyoming – The Charge of the Light Brigade (1912)

Wyoming stands in for Crimea in this Edison-produced one-reel reenactment of the famous military fiasco.

The film survives and was released on DVD as an extra.

Phew! I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind silent film tour through the United States.

☙❦❧

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21 Comments

  1. Shari Polikoff

    Great list! Of course, I’m particularly partial to my state’s ‘Down to the Sea in Ships.’

    Regarding Clara Bow, Tony Moreno, and Rex the Wonder Horse having ‘It,’ I read that Madame Glyn also included the doorman at the Ambassador Hotel!

  2. Lisa L. Cross

    ” I tried my best not to include pro-Confederacy pictures.”
    Censorship, really? Film history is what it is. We are all intelligent adults here.

    1. Movies Silently

      (Looks around.)

      Nope, I am not, in fact, the government of the United States. I personally would much rather my state be represented by movies that do not treat a significant portion of the population as less than human. This is a fun, goofy map designed to make people happy. Everyone except Confederacy apologists who are cordially invited to pound sand.

      But, hey, if “I want movies that glamorized owning other human beings! I demand them! Give them to me now!!!” is the hill you want to die on…

  3. The Crane Operator

    “Just Maine Folks” was shot in Cape Elizabeth, where Lubin dubbed their encampment Lubinville-by-the-Sea. Just south of South Portland (which, itself, is just south of Portland). Probably most visited by tourists today to see the Portland Head Light, the 1791 lighthouse marking the southern end of Casco Bay. I’m sure quite a lot of school children know it for Two Lights park. I’ve certainly gone on more than one field trip there. “Just Maine Folks” isn’t set on the coast, though — it’s in a farming community in inland Cape Elizabeth. I’m sure every structure seen is still standing if anyone cares to find them.

    Lubin was known for rolling into town and shooting films with a local cast for local distribution. I’d at first assumed that’s what “Just Maine Folks” was since… well, to be honest, aside from Ethel Clayton and Harry Myers, the two young people in the film, none of the cast act like actors. But that isn’t the case. Bartley McCullum and Mrs. George Walters were both professionals who appeared in numerous films for Lubin and other studios. Even Peter Lang, the John Bunny-type who plays the lead Squire Lang character, whose primary acting technique appears to be to pump his arms up and down, has over thirty titles under his belt.

      1. Overseas Visitor

        Thanks for this covid-compatible travel guide. Clearly my US map is very incomplete, but hence this post will be valuable for many years.

      2. The Crane Operator

        I remember when the Northeast Silent Film Festival was still running they had a festival of Maine and New England-set films. Most of them were easterners, set aboard mostly whaling ships, with minimal landside scenes. They had a few inland films, but not “Just Maine Folks”, strangely enough. I say strangely because it was at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport and the attached Northeast Historic Film Institute archive has a print of it. Perhaps donor restrictions prevented them from showing it — I have no idea. Our video was sourced from our own print.

  4. Mitch Farish

    In Virginia, exterior scenes for Tol’able David were shot near where Joseph Hergesheimer’s story is set, around Monterey in Highland County. From what I saw in the movie, the country still looks pretty much the same today, mountains and woods. There is only one traffic light!

  5. Steve Phillips

    What a fun post!

    I surprised myself by already knowing of some of these state connections, and enjoyed learning of the others.

    As I’m sure you know from Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By, the 1921 pastoral Tol’able David is another great example of location filming. Director Henry King chose a location in Highland County, Virginia, not far from his childhood home. It was then one of the most remote spots in Virginia, where log cabins, split-rail fences, etc were still common (and good roads, telephone poles, etc were not). To “go back to a simpler time,” Highland County was the place to go! Transporting the entire cast, crew and equipment there was considered quite a feat. Anyway, I enjoy Tol’able David even more knowing the story of its on-location shooting.

    Now I’ll try to see the Virginia film shown on your map, The Steadfast Heart.

    Thanks for another post full of fun facts!

  6. MostMarvellousMovies

    Great post!

    Very interesting to see which movies were made in(or about) the different states. I haven’t actually seen any of these, but they’re definitely on my “to watch” list.

    Cheers!

  7. Barbara Wingo

    On behalf of the Norman Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, thank you for selecting The Flying Ace for our state. The City of Jacksonville has appropriated $1 million to begin constructing a silent film museum in the production building of the Norman Studios — where The Flying Ace was made. The museum will highlight Norman’s production of films that countered the stereotypes of African Americans of the 1920s as well as the era when Jacksonville was the Winter Film Capital of the World. In spite of the delays caused by the pandemic, construction has now begun!

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