Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pack Mules, July 1959

Today I am featuring three photos (plus a detail) of the Pack Mules and that Living Desert (this was pre-Nature's Wonderland, dontcha know).

Ah, the heady aroma of fresh mule, sagebrush, leather, and Hai Karate (because that's what that one guy on the end is wearing)... it can only mean one thing. A ride on the Pack Mules! Here's a team of seven mules (not including the "scout") about to embark on a trip through the scenic desert. If we get lost, we may have to eat our mules... it happened at least six or seven times over the years.


You never know what you might see in those strange deserts, and I doubt that many people expected to see these bubbling pots of mud. Ever wonder what that mud really was? Well, as it turns out, it was basically... mud! A kind of slurry of water and clay. If you are hooked on phonics like me, you can read about it at the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog here!


You can see the tracks of the Conestoga Wagons and the Stagecoach (was there more than one Stagecoach?)... though I believe that both of them would permanently close in September, as the area was expanded and improved for Nature's Wonderland in 1960. There is also a dry watering hole, surrounded by lots of bones. Apparently the water was poison, probably full of alkalai! There is a crude wooden sign...


.... placed here as a warning to fellow pioneers. Unfortunately, an extreme blowup still doesn't render it very legible. I can make a guess as to what it says, more or less: "Look at this! The water here is poison and we lost all of our cattle. Do not let your cattle drink in this (illegible)". If anyone knows what it actually says, don't be shy.

11 comments:

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Great post, I've never seen the poison water hole before! I think I want to build one of those bubbling pots of mud in my back yard, anyone want to help!

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

having never been to a desert, painted or otherwise, i really appreciate the realistic portrayal here at Disneyland....

this is another place that i never got to see in person


nice pictures today :)

outsidetheberm said...

That's probably the best guess made yet on what that sign says - That's quite an eye you have there.

... and our warehouse still has an ancient bottle of Hai Karate resting in the medicine cabinet! It really can't be thrown out now, you know.

210Frwy said...

I would love to know how the mud pots were maintained. Come on out there! It must have been someone’s job to keep ‘em bubblin’ with the correct colors!

Anonymous said...

Alas, in the early years of the park when Walt was shorthanded, Alice would be shifted from starting and stopping the giant caterpillar cars (see three posts ago) and moved over to the mud pots, leading to the famous opening line, "Alice was getting very tired of sitting in the painted desert and tending the mud pots..." Well, given her history, you can imagine the rest.

Katella Gate said...

Major, I think you did as much as anybody could do with the sign. I fussed with it in Photoshop and got nothing better.

I do think that the last line is a signature like "signed Black Bart" or some other silly western name. I can't read it, which makes me think it's script, not print. Also notice it is dropped down from the body of the text, again, as a signature line would be. Plus, it's a very cartoony thing to do.

Katella Gate said...

I think I want to build one of those bubbling pots of mud in my back yard, anyone want to help!

Sorry VDT, beat you by 40 years on that one. When I was a kid (abt 12 years old) I would "build" different Disneyland rides in my back yard (and charge admission BTW). It would last about a week, I'd pull it down, and build something else.

Well, one week it was Nature's Wonderland... for the wildlife, I got stuffed animals and put them in the trees, and for the lakes, I'd just flood the low spots in the garden. Then pull friends around in a wagon and "narrate" as we went.

The "Mudpots" were improvised by berrying a fish tank in the dirt, and tinting the water with food coloring. The bubbles were supplied by the tank's air pump.

The "Geyser" was a modified lawn sprinkler under a pile of dirt. A kink the the hose kept it from erupting until I was ready.

Not everybody was pleased... I used all of my mom's red food coloring for the mud pot (and most of it honestly got on me) while the Swedish immigrant family across the road disapproved of the fact I was charging an admission, and not giving it away for free...Ah Socialism.

Chris Merritt said...

Oh man - I have been trying for the last 15 years to figure out what that sign said - it's not on the blueprints! Thanks for clearing it up...

Chiana said...

Neat post Maj!

Cool seeing that sign - "LOOK AT THIS!" hehe!

Think I'd like to have that job keeping those colorful mud pots goin. It's a dirty job but, y'know.

Chiana said...

Come to think of it, too bad those painted desert mudpots aren't there anymore - they could call in Mike Rowe from 'Dirty Jobs' hehe