Monday, December 31, 2007

Mine Train, 1973

(I found this post in my "drafts archives" on, and was surprised to see that I had never actually published it. It was originally written back in July 2006...this dates from the bad old days when I still had my first scanner, so the image quality isn't quite up to snuff. I no longer have the slides, or I would just rescan 'em...anyway, I thought they would still be fun to see!).

For you fans of the Mine Train, here are two images from 1973. One photo features a brave engineer, he looks like he is making sure everything is safe before getting underway.

The second image shows a train that looks like it is out of service...maybe it was a slow day. This classic attraction had only four more years of operation until it was closed (in January of 1977). Sorry about the grainy images, these were very dark slides and I had to lighten them considerably.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Details! 1957

Like many officianados of vintage Disneyland photos, I love the details. It helps one get a deeper appreciation of the care and attention that the designers (and Walt, of course) lavished on the park.

First up is this unusual view as we approach the Tomorrowland Skyway load area. A silvery-gray bucket zooms past us, heading towards the Matterhorn. Oh wait, that won't be there for another two years! The functional industrial look of the beams and supports is fun-ified with some kooky 50's metal doo-dads. Ya can't have too many doo-dads, I'm sure you all will agree. I'm sure glad that they removed this ride and replaced it with.....nothing!

The paddle wheel at the stern of the Mark Twain appears to be more or less at rest here (perhaps as it loads up with a fresh herd of guests?). I can't explain it, but I just like this photo.

OK, maybe this photo doesn't really fall under the definition of "details", but we are getting a look across part of the Hub. There's the Omnibus, and you can see one of the original orange trees standing in the middle of the park. Do any remain anywhere on the property? I realize that 50 years is a long time for an orange tree to live, but then again, my grandma's house had a small orange grove for longer than that.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It Was 51 Years Ago Today....

These three beautiful photos were carefully hand-dated by their original owners, and thanks to their meticulous documentation, we know that the pictures are from December 29th, 1956...that's 51 one years ago today! I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty neat. It doesn't hurt that the photos were taken on a perfect sunny day with blue skies, and that the photographer used the miraculous Kodachrome film that looks as good today as it did half a century ago.

The photos themselves are of commonly-photographed subjects, like this view of the Mark Twain and Harper's Mill...

...Captain Hook's Pirate Ship (gleaming like a jewel)...

...and Monstro the Whale. The people in their 50's clothing (lots of hats!) add a lot to this photo. Note that the lady on the left has apparently folded her 1956 guide book in half, which shows that she was a commie.

I would like to wish my sister Mary a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY...she is the best sister ever!

Friday, December 28, 2007

House of the Future, 1961

The Monsanto House of the Future was a concept that never caught on, probably for a million different reasons. Too unconventional, too "cold", and let's face it, all kinds of people want all kinds of different homes, from southwest adobes to Bauhaus glass and steel to geodesic dome houses (and so on).

But it is fun to envision whole neighborhoods (or hillsides) full of mushroom houses! Since the designers intended for them to be modular and customizable, they certainly wouldn't all be identical cookie-cutter homes. I am intrigued by the idea of a multi-story version, or "jumbo" versions, since (let's face it), the Disneyland version is not exactly huge. Imagine them painted in soft blues, sunny yellows, deep greens, or woodsy browns. How about a nice tangerine metal flake? That's for me!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Knott's 1956

Here are a couple of black and white snapshots taken at Knott's Berry Farm in 1956. Our first photo shows a little girl looking pretty darn happy as she passes by on her mule, with the Ghost Town sign overhead.

Here's the Carousel from Knott's. It distinguishes itself from the one at Disneyland by having animals other than horses...I've read that this makes it a "merry-go-round", but according to Wikipedia that is incorrect...the terms are interchangeable. This example is a "classic Densel Carousel". The carousel has 52 animals and two chariots and is considered to be one of the finest examples of the "golden age" carousels still in operation. It was originally located at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania before it was brought to Knott's in 1955 by Walter Knott.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frontierland Wednesday

I hope you are all recovering nicely from your Christmas festivities! Meanwhile, why not take a look at these vintage images of Frontierland?

I'm guessing that this was taken on an overcast winter day, obviously this is an early (undated) photo. Look at the bare hills and scraggly plant growth. Nothing has had much time to grow and mature. I don't know why I never considered it before, but does the pilot of the Mark Twain steer at all? The thing is on a rail, maybe the pilot only has to go forward or backward. Or does the riverboat steer a bit, like the Autopia cars do on their rails? Either way, I'm sure it takes a lot of skill to stop that large craft exactly where you want it.

Here's Cascade Peak, in a photo that was taken from the Twain, as you can tell by the bit of ornate woodwork in the upper right. I don't know what to say about this peak that I haven't already said in the past, but...I miss it.

The world has turned blue in this January 1962 shot of the Friendly Indian Village. I like the way the glowing fires add a touch of magic to this view. Do those still burn at night, or have they been extinguished like the Settler's Cabin? The kid on the canoe should have a buffalo hide blanket to keep him warm.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at Disneyland

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Today's post will be short but sweet, since I am out of town. I thought that this would be a nice picture to feature, showing the Matterhorn (in a photo from January, 1962) looking huge and impressive here. The Christmas star is huge also, does anybody have any idea how large it was? I'm throwing a guess out, maybe 15 feet high? The Yacht Bar can be see edge-on, as well as the roof of a ticket booth.

There was another star, only this one was made of flowers, and was in the center of the Hub, right about where the "Partners" statue is now. Crowds are heavy - - I like the glimpse into Tomorrowland!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Town Square, December 1961

Disneyland is a very busy place in December, and this was just as true 46 years ago. The mighty Matterhorn looms over the Hills Bros. Coffee Garden with its giant star in place. I'd love to see a nice color photo of this when it was lit up at night! The Coffee Garden has some candy cane decorations, and there sure seems to be a lot of folks congregating over in that corner of the park. Let's take a closer look...

Maybe everyone needs a stroller today? I can't really tell why it is so crowded right there. The Opera House to the left is housing displays from "Babes in Toyland", which debuted this month. I sure wish that our photographer had gone inside and taken a few pictures!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa's Village 1957 Part 3

Can you stand one more day at Santa's Village? I'm afraid you don't have a choice, but hopefully you've been enjoying the ride.

Check out this tiny building, with the clock helpfully informing us that it is five minutes past November. Or something. I never did learn how to tell time.

Here are the kids, with mom and grandma keeping an eye on them as they are about to take a ride on the Candy Cane Sleigh, pulled by real reindeer! I'm pretty sure the reindeer could fly, but maybe somebody else could say for sure.

The next three photos are from the interior of Santa's abode. Little sister poses next to an elf who is only slightly smaller than her. Why is the elf standing in the fireplace? What is the significance of the empty cradle? There is a bucket full of pine cones, which reminds me of the lost art of spray-painting them gold. I excelled in that when I was younger!

Yes, little girl, I wouldn't be too crazy about getting near this giant rabbit either. Peter Rabbit? The Easter Bunny?

And finally, here is our last photo from Santa's Village, featuring Kris Kringle himself and our still-slightly-nervous kid (wearing her "Santa's Helper Club" pin). When you're only three feet tall, Santa must seem like a giant, albiet a benevolent one.

Sadly, Santa's Village closed forever in 1998. I think it was used in an episode of "The X Files" looking suitably creepy in its abandoned state. I'm not sure what, if anything, remains on the site today. But it brought a lot of joy to families for many years, and I'm very glad to have these great photos as a reminder!

Just a note...I am going out of town tomorrow, so posting might be sporadic for a few days. I'll try to put up new stuff if I can!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa's Village 1957, Part 2

Since this is the sequel to yesterday's post, I will call it "Bride of Santa's Village".

Come back here, you! Little sis is hell-bent on petting that sheep, and he is making a half-hearted effort to escape. Here we get a nice look at some of the cottages and other buildings, surrounded by colorful giant mushrooms. Why mushrooms? According to one website, Norwegian legend tells us that Vindicans (little people) were craftsmen who "lived in the toadstools and mushroom. Pixies and Elves along with Gnomes are a direct relative to the Vindican", so the mushrooms gave them someplace to live. See, and you thought it didn't make sense!

I think that sheep was hoping there would be something besides snow in that trough. Santa is makin' the scene in the background, but nobody is paying him any attention.

There seems to have been two different train rides at Santa's Village. Here's one of them, with a large (and scary) rabbit standing on what I guess is supposed to be the train's tender. Sis is fascinated!

Here is the other train ride...they DO look like different trains, right? I wouldn't be surprised if both of these train rides live on in other amusement parks. Did I mention that it looks freakin' cold?

Tomorrow you will see the third and final part of our Santa's Village series.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa's Village 1957, Part 1

Today (and for the next two days) I will be posting some wonderful, early photos from Santa's Village, located near Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernadino Mountains. This little park opened on Memorial Day, 1955 (about six weeks before Disneyland opened), and for many years it was a very popular Southern California destination. You could experience the Christmas spirit all year long!

These photos (restored from magenta hell) are especially neat because they were all taken after a heavy snowfall. It could hardly feel more Christmasy! But man-oh-man, does it look cold.

First up, here are our two protagonists, looking adorable in front of the giant candy cane signpost. Good thing they are bundled up! If I could go back in time to visit S.V., I think I would want to see it like this.

These next two slides don't show too much of Santa's Village itself, but I just loved the feeling of being out in the woods, surrounded by the snow-covered trees. Isn't this next one pretty?

Some poor shnooks (or elves, more than likely) had to shovel out these paths over and over in the winter months! Maybe Santa got them a snow blower, since elves' hands get notoriously chapped. I wonder what mom has in that paper bag?

Wow, here he is, the star himself, SANTA. He looks like he stepped out of one of Haddon Sundblom's Coca Cola ads. Older brother is appears pretty excited to be in the presence of such a star. Remember him from one of my earliest posts, fishing at Knott's? What a contrast! The smaller human (making the goofy face) is his sister, believe it or not. Take a look at this other Knott's image, there she is looking appropriately girly in a nice dress and pinafore.

Stay tuned, tomorrow we'll see more of Santa's Village, with many more details to savor!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Autopia at Night, circa 1958

Here's an unusual photo of the Autopia at night. I based the 1958 date on the fact that in another photo from this lot (posted long ago, see below) you can see rather a lot of construction going on in the background, presumably for the Matterhorn/Submarines/Monorail. Perhaps this is actually from early 1959...anyway, not much to say about it except that I love it for its vintage quality. I guess the headlights didn't work? Or maybe they just weren't working this night.

Rather than link back to my original post of this slide, I decided to rescan it and futz around with it in Photoshop to bring the colors back to a more pleasing result (both of these slides have turned magenta). Check out the piles of lumber and other evidence of massive construction!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Knott's Shots

I don't know about you, but I am ready for a brief respite from Christmas! Come with me to Buena Park, won't you?

Here's a lovely shot of the Ghost Town. Does this street have a name? None of my old Knott's brochures with maps are handy at the moment. There's that broken down old locomotive, looking as if it has been dropped in front of the West Coast Machinery Company from a great height. As far as I know, it's still there. Experts?

It seems as if quite a few of my older Knott's slides were taken as the sun was setting, and I am guessing that the photographers were killing time as they waited to get into the famous restaurant for one of Cordelia Knott's chicken dinners. Depending on when you went, your wait could be hours! Which of course was the reason the Ghost Town came to be in the first give all of those paying customers something to do.

One of my fond memories of Knott's was panning for real gold! I vividly recall the coldness of the water, the heaviness of the pan full of dirt and water, and my eyes frantically searching the dirt looking for specks of gold. To speed things up, a prospector would often grab the pan from you and basically do all the work for you. This irked me as a kid. "What the hell!?" Yes, I was a particularly foul mouthed child (I blame my Navy dad!). But I probably would have taken 20 minutes and dumped out all of my gold. Business looks slow at this late hour. Note the coffee cans, which I assume were used to dump the gold-bearing dirt into your pan.

EXTRA, EXTRA! I recently found one of my little plastic vials of REAL GOLD from Knott's! This probably dates from around 1971-ish. The vial is about an inch and a quarter tall. I think I have another vial that contained gold dust from three or four other vials, which I combined for a more spectacular effect. But naturally I can't find that one!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Tree in Town Square, 1965

I recently found a CD on which I had stored some old scans from slides that I no longer own, and among those were a few Disneyland slides. This image of the magnificent Christmas tree in Town Square was one that I thought was worth sharing. It looks like it was a gray and chilly day when this photo was taken, weather that I personally enjoy! It's about the most we can hope for to help us get into that Christmas spirit (as opposed to sunny, 80 degree Decembers that I can recall).

The huge fir trees that are used each year at the park are something of an illusion themselves, having been painted (yes, painted) to maintain the green color, flocked, fireproofed, and additional branches are inserted to fill in any gaps. Then the decorating begins! What a job that must be.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Disneyland Christmas Parade, 1961 - Part 3

It's the final day in our Christmas Parade marathon, I hope you are not too tired of it all.

To our extreme left we can see Jiminy Cricket, followed by a huge, mangey looking French poodle. Ooo la la! Behind that is one of Main Street's horseless carriages hauling a bunch of toys.

There go the seven dwarfs....

...with Snow White bringing up the rear. Dopey, as usual, marches to his own drummer.

Pandemonium ensues as these anthropomorphic trees from "Babes in Toyland" (which was released the very month of this parade) make their way down Main Street. Just look at all of the dads running recklessly into the street to get a good photo. Or maybe they really wanted a picture of...

....these guys! The classic Toy Soldiers from B.I.T. It is hard to imagine a Disneyland Christmas parade without them, and yet this must have been the first year they appeared. Pretty cool!

And last, but certainly not least, it's Mickey Mouse himself, banging on "The Big Bass Drum". He's wearing a top hat for the occasion! I guess that Santa did not need to excuse himself from his toy-making duties, Mickey had more than enough star power.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip back to Christmas, 1961!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Disneyland Christmas Parade, 1961 - Part 2

Can't make it to your local Christmas parade? Well, pour yourself a glass of eggnog and enjoy round two from my 1961 Disneyland holiday photos!

Here come some mock-jousters, brandishing their lances. I sort of like the parade elements that had no movie tie-ins, no characters...

This float is being pulled by a train (Casey Jr?), and it bears a large golden horseshoe. So I can only assume that the ladies prentending to be marionettes are from the Golden Horseshoe Revue! What kept them from falling off? Meanwhile, more giant bunnies follow closely.

There must be an easier way to keep your pants from falling down.

Pretty majorettes lead the way for a marching band, probably from some neighboring school...

And of course you have to have your baton twirlers.

More giant bunnies, followed by some oversized toys. A Prussian toy soldier rides his wooden horsey, accompanied by an enormous doll. Did her eyes open and close? Spooky! She bears a resemblance to the figures in the Bicentennial parade 15 years later.

Tomorrow, the third and final installment in this series.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Disneyland Christmas Parade, 1961 - Part 1

Ready or not, Christmas is a-comin'! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a bit Grinchy this year. Certain things always help though, like watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street", or listening to my dad's old scratchy albums of beautiful Christmas music (which I"ve heard for as long as I can remember). So it's nostalgia for the ghosts of Christmas past that get me in a cheerful mood!

Ordinarily, if I find a bunch of slides showing a parade at Disneyland, I am disappointed. But this batch of images from the 1961 Christmas parade make me smile as I can almost feel the slight chill in the December air, hear faint echoes of marching-band versions of "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and "Up On The Rooftop", and see the smiling faces of kids who probably have grandkids of their own by now.

SO, take a look at these "you are there" photos, and try to transport yourself back to those more carefree days! With the exception of the first image, they will be presented in the order in which they were taken. In this first picture, we're standing beneath the marquee of the Main Street Cinema, with a glimpse of the parade through the crowd. The hats and clothing show us that this is a Kennedy-era parade.

Well, Happy Holiday to you too, marching alphabet blocks! I wonder if you are related to the famous dancing packs of Old Gold cigarettes?

One of the Three Little Pigs pauses to have his photo taken, just look at all the paparazzi! It's like the red carpet at some surreal awards show.

Arrr! Cap'n Hook should be pulling that canon with his built-in trailer hitch!

Giant bunnies in Easter egg hues terrorize children with their large-bore canons. To the right, a mutant Scotty dog (in full tartan regalia) gives me the willies.

This group of Dickensian carolers bring a dash of old England to Main Street, and I am glad to see them. Note how the crowd, usually so orderly back in those days, is starting to spill out into the streets. It's like a Who concert!

I hope you are enjoying this series, because you're going to get two more days of it!