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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: The Cross of Coronado Indiana Jones
"The Cross of Coronado"
(0:00-11:49 on the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade DVD)
Story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes
Screenplay by Jeffrey Boam
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Released: May 24, 1989

On a Boy Scout expedition, young Indy comes upon a group of treasure hunters who have dug up an important historical relic.


Read the 'Prologue: Utah, 1912' segment of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade summary at the Indiana Jones Wiki for a summary of this incident in young Indy's life


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


The opening of this episode tells the viewer only that it takes place in Utah in 1912. The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones reveals more specifically that it is around August 4th or 5th (Indy writes an entry and makes sketches about the incident in the journal on August 5). However, the novel The Phantom of the Klondike opens immediately after this prologue sequence, yet is said to be in July. I think the August date works better, allowing another of month time of time to have passed since the death of Mrs. Jones and Indy and his father's move to Utah, so that they are fairly settled in in the Utah town of Moab and Indy is entrenched in the local Boy Scout troop. 


Didja Know?


"The Cross of Coronado" adventure is comprised of the 12-minute prologue sequence of the larger Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie.


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The memorial card of the death of Anna Jones taped onto the June 8, 1912 entry states she died on March 3, but Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide states she died of scarlet fever on May 16, 1912 (less than a month before this story). In The Titanic Adventure, set in April 1912, she is still alive (though not seen), so the May 16 date for her death seems the more accurate.


The June 8 entry also has Indy relating that he and his widower father have moved to Utah. It's not stated why Henry, Sr. would have chosen to move there. It's possible he wanted to get away from their home in Princeton to escape memories of his dead wife, but why choose Utah to move to in particular?


Indy writes that he's joined a new club called the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts of America (now Scouts BSA) was founded in 1910, so it was only a couple years old at the time. The Boy Scouts of America Handbook for Boys book cover in the journal is from the 1911 edition.


The photo of Indy and his father pasted into the journal looks like it may be a genuine old-time photograph with the faces of actors Sean Connery and River Phoenix pasted onto the male figures!


The August 1, 1912 entry identifies Indy's Scout leader in Utah as Mr. Havelock.


Indy likes to go digging for old arrowheads and other Indian (Native American) artifacts in the Utah desert.


Indy reveals that the location to which his Scout troop went on an overnight trip was Arches National Park. This is where the introductory scenes were mostly shot for the film. However, Indy shouldn't be able to name it as such because it wasn't established as a national monument until 1929 and not a national park until 1969!


In the August 5 entry, Indy states that the Cross of Coronado had some Latin words on the back that he didn't have time to read before he lost it to Panama Hat. (He will have a chance to read them when he recovers the cross in 1938 in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.)


    Indy draws a sketch of Garth (Fedora) in the journal and describes him and his attire in fair detail, not realizing he's essentially describing himself in 10 years!

    Indy wonders who the man was, speculating as to whether he was "some sort of adventure-seeker for hire". That may spell out the difference between Garth and Indy as an adult. Garth is an adventure-seeker for hire, not necessarily guided by a strong moral compass. Indy will come to do what he does, not "for hire" but as an archaeologist and a sense of altruism, with a belief that ancient relics belong in a museum for all to appreciate, not something sold to the highest bidder.


Indy's description of various venomous snakes is largely correct, though sea snakes are known for small fangs, not ones of 1-1.5 inches long, and, while black mambas are one of the fastest snakes in the world, they are not the fastest venomous snake. I've been unable to confirm whether the death rate of 75% is true of people bitten by a cobra as stated in the journal.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Scoutmaster Havelock

Herman "Hermie" Mueller

Indiana Jones

Garth (Fedora)



Rough Rider

Indiana (dog)

Panama Hat


deputy sheriff




Didja Notice?


The fedora-wearing man leading the dig to find the Cross of Coronado is referred to simply as "Fedora" in the closing credits of the film, but the junior novelization tells us his name is Garth.


Indy recognizes the Cross of Coronado as a relic given to Coronado by Cortés. The Cross of Coronado is a fictitious relic, but Coronado and Cortés were real world Spanish conquistadores. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-1554) led an exploratory expedition from Mexico into the southwestern quadrant of North America up to what would become the U.S. state of Kansas. Hernán Cortés (1485-1547) conquered the Aztec Empire in what is now Mexico and began the Spanish colonization of the New World.


When a snake (appears to be a common garter snake) slithers onto Herman's lap in the cave, he becomes horrified, but Indy calmly picks it up and sets it aside, suggesting that he does not have a fear of snakes at this point. Later, Garth's gang chases him onto a circus train where he falls into a crateful of snakes and the experience seemingly causes his ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) from this time onward. But he voiced a hatred of snakes when he was 9 years old in "My First Adventure" (as well as in a few other previous Young Indy adventures), so why was he so calm about it with Herman here?


When Indy sends Herman to find the others and bring the sheriff, Herman asks, "What are you gonna do?" and Indy responds, "I don't know. I'll think of something." This is analogous to what he'll later say in Raiders of the Lost Ark to a similar question from Sallah, "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go."


When Indy shoves the cross into his belt at 5:08 on the DVD, his belt appears to be an Indian bead belt rather than a standard Boy Scout belt. The novelization refers to it as a Hopi woven belt.


The Scout patch Indy wears on his uniform above the left breast pocket is the emblem for Star Scout, the second-highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts. By the time of Princess of Peril in the summer of 1913, Indy is said to be an Eagle Scout, the highest attainable rank.


Indy whistles for his horse and it comes running up. Does this mean the horse is his personal horse and not a rental horse for the Scout expedition? And why wasn't the horse tied to a bush or something? Did all the Scouts leave their horses untied?


The flatbed pick-up truck that Garth whistles up at 5:27 on the DVD is a 1919 Ford Model TT. The car that follows is a 1915 Saxon Model 14. Of course, the scene is supposed to be in 1912!


Indy jumps on the train of the Dunn & Duffy Combined Circus in his attempt to escape Garth's gang. This is a fictitious travelling circus, probably a play on the Barnum & Bailey Circus which was bought by the Ringling Brothers Circus and was called the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows in 1919.


Indy falls into a vat of water and a large snake head rears up at him from the liquid. According to the script, the snake is a giant anaconda. Although anacondas live in watery environments such as swamps and marshes, I can't find evidence that you would want to transport one in a vat of water. In the novelization, the anaconda is not in a vat of water.


The crateful of snakes Indy falls into appear to be all garter snakes. This incident seems to the be the main cause of his ophidiophobia in the future.


Falling into a lion's train car, Indy grabs up a whip hanging on the wall and uses it in an attempt to keep the beast at bay. His first attempt at cracking the whip results in the tip cutting him on the chin instead, explaining the scar Indy has from this point forward (the scar is an actual scar the actor of adult Indy, Harrison Ford, has, resulting from a car accident). But if you pause the scene and advance it frame-by-frame, it can be seen that the whip's tip comes nowhere near actor River Phoenix's head.


Indy flees from Garth's gang into the caboose of the train, which has the sign on it, "Doctor Fantasy's Magic Caboose". Inside, Indy sees various types of paraphernalia for performing illusions of magic. "Doctor Fantasy" is a name used by producer Frank Marshall when performing magic acts.


Garth has a scar on his left cheek. 


At 10:07 on the DVD, we see the Jones mailbox at their Utah home. The paint of the Jones name seems fairly weathered considering they've only lived there for a few months. Maybe this is a property Henry, Sr. has owned for some time without having lived there?


Indy's namesake dog, Indiana, appears briefly at 10:10 on the DVD.


From Professor Jones' mutterings and the book page he has open, it's clear he's researching the Holy Grail, which will become his obsession for the next 26 years, as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


The sheriff and Herman arrive at Indy's house in a 1914 Ford Model T. Another anachronism.


How did Herman know to bring the sheriff to Indy's house? Indy had told him to bring the sheriff to the caves while he figured out how to stop the plunderers from taking the cross.


Garth gives Indy his fedora as a sort of consolation prize after the boy loses the cross to the sheriff and the collector. The novel Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead indicates that Indy has worn this same fedora through most of his adventures from this point onward. However, the novel The Child Lama has young Indy giving his fedora to the young lama at the end their adventure together, implying that the fedora worn by Indy in later adventures is not the same one he received from Garth here.


Indy will finally the get the Cross of Coronado back 26 years later in 1938 in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


The junior novel The Phantom of the Klondike which takes place immediately after Indy's loss of the cross to the sheriff and the treasure hunters reveals that his old governess, Miss Seymour, was reading a book in the yard behind the house through the entire incident with the sheriff!


Notes from the novelization of this episode in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade by Rob MacGregor

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, June 1989)

"The Cross of Coronado" is covered in Chapters 1-3 of this book.


Page 3 indicates that Indy did not know Herman well as the Scouts' visit to the Arches and caves begins.


On page 4, one of the Scouts mumbles that he hopes the caves they're visiting are "good" and another agrees, remarking that the circus arrives today and they could be watching them pitch the tents. We see later Indy jumping onto the Dunn & Duffy Combined Circus train (named in the film) in his attempt to escape Garth's gang.


On page 4, Indy remarks that the Cross of Coronado found in Utah proves that Cortés sent Coronado in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. The Seven Cities of Gold was a popular 16th Century myth of seven Native American cities in the New Mexico area that were said to be awash in gold. One of Coronado's duties in his exploration of North America was to search for the fabled Seven Cities, but he concluded there were no such things, just plain adobe towns.


When Indy jumps onto the circus train, he first goes into a passenger cabin and meets the people of the freak show. He also has several other new variations of close calls on the train not seen in the movie.


On page 14, Indy scrambles along the catwalk in the reptile train car and, seeing all the reptiles, thinks of the car as a virtual Noah's Ark of the reptile world. This is a reference to the Biblical account of the flood and Noah's Ark and how Noah gathered a male and female member of every species of animal, loading them onto the ark two-by-two in order to repopulate the world once the flood should recede.


On page 18, Roscoe calls Indy a Girl Scout. This refers to the Girl Scouts of the USA, a youth organization for girls ages 5-18, known for civic and social events in local communities, founded in March 1912.


When Indy tries to get his father to listen to him about the cross relic, his father interrupts to say the parchment he is copying took 900 years to find its way to him from a forgotten box in the Sepulchre of Saint Sophia in Constantinople. The Sepulchre of Saint Sophia appears to be fictitious, but may be inspired by the Hagia Sophia cathedral (now mosque) in Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople).


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade #1 Notes from the comic book adaptation of this episode

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade #1
Marvel Comics
Writer: David Michelinie
Artist: Bret Blevins

Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Gregory Wright

"The Cross of Coronado" is covered in pages 1-16 of this comic


The cover of this issue depicts young Indy's encounter with a lion and boldly proclaims the story as "INDY'S FIRST ADVENTURE!" Of course, we now retroactively know he had earlier adventures in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series and Young Indiana Jones novels.


Memorable Dialog


the Cross of Coronado.mp3

it belongs in a museum.mp3

dig with your hands not with your mouth.mp3

everybody's lost but me.mp3

you got heart kid.mp3

son of a bitch.mp3

that doesn't mean you have to like it.mp3 


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