Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Frontierland Views, August 1969

For some reason, our photographer felt so inspired by this rough-hewn log stockade that he had to take a picture of it. Logs! Well, I'll be! Antlers were apparently a popular decoration on the frontier. They really do warm up the place! Note the large stone counterweight that operated a secret escape door (or something). I'm not sure exactly how this worked, to be honest.

Just on the other side of the stockade you would find the Plaza Gardens, and, I believe, some baños!

Over on Tom Sawyer Island, a small graveyard with a few humble headstones reminds us that life on the frontier was tough. I've always wondered if the names on the stones were taken from history: "Thaddeus Walker", "Eliza Hodgkins", "Rufus Finley", "W. Pierre Feignoux", and "Wing Lee" (not the one from Knott's Berry Farm?!?) are among the dearly departed.

The graveyard still exists, though it is all dirt, and lacks any sense that it has been there for many decades.


Patrick Devlin said...

You know, Major, this is what I was trying to get across some months back when I spoke of hostile Indian country. Maybe you was joking me but the Northern part of Tom Sawyer's Island was hostile Indian land. They burned down that poor settler's cabin and they had those eerie elevated burial shrouds. And they never waved, like friendly Indians do.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Don’t seem to recall ever seeing this graveyard before. Kind of hard to believe that after all these years there are still prominent vignettes like this that I’ve never laid eyes on before.

Thanks Major!

Matthew said...

Major! I love the fact that you point out the counter weight on the side entrance to Frontierland. This small detail was greatly appreciated for so many years... I believe it is gone now. As a kid, I always wondered if the rock was real... since you could buy a smaller version of it at the Main Street or Merlin's Magic Shop.

This part of the stockade that the photographer is pointing at is actually where we stored the Guest Control equipment for Parade Route 4 (and on busy days Parade Route 44). Parade Route 4 & 44 was the radio call sign for "Adventure/Frontierland Guest Control." We were responsible for Hub area (the busiest part of the park during a parade). Anyone exiting a land walked right smack into us. Day parades were changed out annually back during the 80's. The Electrical Parade still holds many a fond memory of warm So. Cal. evenings in summer. The Stockade brings back plenty of wonderful memories too... including climbing to the top of the blockhouse and moving those rifles. Thank Major for today's post.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick, I've forgotten what you said a few months ago (I barely remember what I did yesterday!), but I agree with you that the wilderness grew more dangerous as you went further north - at least in the old days. Now they have the "Storyteller" vignette, which changes things.

Monkey Cage Kurt, the graveyard is easy to miss! It is still there, but it has been redone and looks kind of terrible now, like an afterthought.

Major Pepperidge said...

Amazon Belle, wait, what? You could buy a smaller version of that counterweight/rock in the magic shops? I have to believe you are pulling my leg! "Guest Control Equipment", in other words, attack dogs and cattle prods?! The truth must be known! When you said that you moved the rifles, was that so that they weren't always in the same position? Talk about attention to detail. Thank you for the great insider info!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the counterweight is gone now, but I believe it was still there up into the nineties or later. I could never figure out how that was supposed to work either. The rock wasn't secured, so it appeared that it would just fall down on the other side of the wall as soon as you would close the gate. Maybe it was supposed to be some sort of catapult? Matthew, I remember the small foam rocks that they sold at the magic shops in the park!

That is strange that they had a Wing Lee in the Tom Sawyer Island graveyard. Coincidence? A deliberate nod to Knott's Ghost Town launderer?

- TokyoMagic

Chuck said...

That would explain his presence in, ahem, GHOST Town. [rim shot]

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, Chuck!!!

- TokyoMagic!

outsidetheberm said...

That's a great shot of the graveyard. Sure don't remember old Wing Lee being in there!

A few years back, on a previous post, we discussed how antlers on frontier roofs indicated supplies could be had inside. That's why you'll see those old antlers on stage stops and frontier stores. Think that was here at GDB... or in a dream.

Matthew said...

- Tokyo Magic!

I agree with you, I was never sure how it was supposed to work either. I do recall a heavy black chain being connected to the lever or rock. As best as I can figure if you pulled the rock off from inside the fort, the door would shut, and the rock would be on your side. If you pulled the door down from inside the fort it would then place the rock just outside the door placing an additional barrier from say, "Indian attack!" It would be heck to move that boulder to open the entrance back up after the attack was over... being they all survived.

"Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America."

OH MY GOSH Chuck... that was wonderful! Well done sir!

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Chuck said...

Amazon Belle, here's a really good photo of the Rock (not Dwayne Johnson) from a 2010 episode of GDB:

My theory of how the door was supposed to operate is in the comments.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I swear, I can’t tell how the thing really worked! Somehow I don’t think it was a catapult, but I’ll be damned if I have a better idea. Maybe there was a famous Chinese immigrant named “Wing Lee”?

Chuck, oh, that hurt.

TokyoMagic!, don’t encourage him!

outsidetheberm, I honestly don’t remember that fact about the antlers meaning that the place had supplies. So interesting!

Amazon Belle, I have looked and looked and it does appear that there was a large rock on both sides of the wall. So perhaps the emergency gate was ini balance, unless one of the sides was pulled on? I wish I knew for sure; it would be interesting if we could find a historical example of this in use.

Chuck, ha ha, I remember that comment!

Anonymous said...

I remember the counterbalance rock, and that my Dad made a comment about it, but can't recall what it was. Wish we could figure it out.

First I've heard of antlers on the roof signifying supplies, but OK.

In my experience, down to this day, people in mountain areas still put antlers on the roofs of their outbuildings. I used to send my kids to a camp in the Scott Valley, west of Yreka, in the mountains of extreme Northern CA. A number of the ranch buildings were log structures, maybe as much as a hundred years old then (so 1880-90's). Many of them had deer antlers on the roof. Never understood why then and I wish I had asked.