Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beautiful Mark Twain, 1957

There are a number of iconic Disneyland sights; Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street Station, the Monorail, and of course, the Mark Twain. 

This first shot is a neat closeup as guests disembarked after their journey on the Rivers of America. I love the gingerbread detail. The "Twain" looks so authentic, I wonder how much it differs from the steam boats from 100 years earlier (other than the fact that it is guided by a track)?

Notice the bales of cotton in the foreground, and the patriotic bunting (including tiny flags up top)!

Here's another nice photo showing a busy river; the dock is piled with goods (including corn whiskey!), a Keel Boat follows close behind the Twain, and lots of guests can be seen on Tom Sawyer Island (and on the fishing dock). I don't remember noticing the paper lanterns strung in front of the Chicken Plantation before!


Chuck said...

I love the angle of that second photo. The waiting "freight" in the foreground really conveys the sense of a busy, crowded, commercial river vs. today's look of busy, crowded, commercial theme park.

I read recently that the mansion facade that graces one wall of the Blue Bayou was a scaled-down clone of the Chicken Plantation Restaurant. While a close comparison of the two (, shows that to be incorrect, there's definitely a family resemblance in this photo.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I really like that first shot; somehow it’s unique to all the other shots we’ve seen over the years. You can see a lot of detail that you don’t normally get to see.

I had a friend whose father was one of the captains of the Mark Twain. If I recall he had to have a steam certificate, or a license, or something in order to captain the Twain. The family had all his captain’s badges custom framed with a deep mat that followed the contour of the badges silhouettes. It was really nicely done. His last name was Merrick if anyone knows of him.

Melissa said...

If the big riverboat has Cotton Blossoms, the small one must be a Howard Keel Boat.

Chuck said...

There you go, Melissa - Showboating again!

K. Martinez said...

The Mark Twain and the Rivers of America really define the west side of the park; historical transportation on America's waterways and its ports with life along the river. Love the shot of the cargo/freight sitting on the dock with the Mark Twain in the background.

I hear Disney will be selling a new series of collectible "Remember When" Disney pins featuring the Rivers of America, Indian Village, Chief Storyteller and the Settler's Cabin when the new Star Wars Land opens.

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

Having 'helmed' the Mark in the 70s, the only employee on the boat that needed certification was the boiler master on the main deck. It was this fellow who was entrusted the operation of the paddlewheel and the oversight of the boiler. We on top were the 'eyes' of the ship signaling when to move forward or, in some rare cases, making an emergency stop which the Mark could do rather quickly.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Thanks Anonymous, I was hoping someone would know about this. So as a helmsman did you receive a badge of some sort? The ones he had were big and very high quality, looked like each one would’ve cost quite a pretty penny. I think the 70s was when my friend’s dad was working there; did “Merrick” ring a bell at all?

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I agree, the stack of freight adds a subtle realistic detail that (I presume) is long gone. And yes, it would be too much of a coincidence for the Plantation House and the “house” inside the Blue Bayou to look that much alike.

Monkey Cage Kurt, even a slightly different angle is a good thing, since even those are hard to come by! Wow, I would love to see that framed collection of badges!

Melissa, please make a Howard Stern joke too!

Chuck, now that you say that, I remember seeing Show Boat in Chicago, with Eddie Bracken as Cap’n Andy. I had totally forgotten about it!

K. Martinez, riding the Mark Twain and viewing the sights along the river are two of my most favorite things to do at Disneyland; it’s peaceful and beautiful. I am hoping that rumors of big changes to the river (due to Star Wars Land) are false, but am expected to be disappointed.

KS, how cool is it to have a “boiler master” certification in the 21st century?!

Melissa said...

...did “Merrick” ring a bell at all?

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Clarabelle,
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Down to New Orleans Square,
Livin' on straights and pairs,
Merrick is a legend of the West.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Melissa, where the heck did you get that? Did you write that yourself, or is it some Disney song or something that you slightly changed the words? You’re so awesome! I love your contributions here.

Nanook said...

@ Monkey Cage Kurt-

That spectacular lyric adaptation to which your refer, penned by our "very own" Melissa, is to the theme from the TV show Maverick. Here is a link for your listening pleasure.

Oh, Melissa, you slay me-!

Nanook said...


Actually, there a number of shots available on-line showing the pretty party lanterns surrounding the Plantation House.

Dean Finder said...

I could really go for some "Pure" corn whiskey

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa - this song is about the Elephant Man.

Monkey Cage Kurt, Melissa has got so much creativity it isn’t even funny.

Nanook, ah, “Maverick”… this is a show that I never watched when I grew up, though I understand that many of the scripts were reused (and changed of course) for “The Rockford Files”. “Rockford” was so great, I can only imagine how good “Maverick” must have seemed.

Nanook again, oh, I don’t doubt that there are plenty of photos showing the lanterns… I just didn’t remember it when I wrote the post!

Dean Finder, I’ll bet that corn whisky would be potent!

Anonymous said...

M C Kurt...No special badges, we just had the normal nametags by then. And I recall the foreman had the "Captain" label on his hat. Merrick doesn't ring a bell but Mike O'Brian was the 'captain' of the river but in our day.

Matthew said...

Anonymous KS and group... I guess I will jump in here too for a view of the Mark Twain during the late 80's.

Regarding the "Captain" badge on hats. The Working Lead/Foreman would have a "Captain" badge given to him (there were only men working the the river back then) by Wardrobe. And I want to agree that only our Steam Engineer had to have a license; however, I thought there was some strange law back that stretched from who knows when into the 90's that said, "Orange County" didn't require a steam engineer to be licensed. Don't quote me on that one...

Merrick doesn't ring a bell nor Mike O'Brian. I knew a Patrick O'Brian who had high seniority and would sometimes come from Tomorrowland to work the West Side.

The 'A' Working Leads/Foremen on the Mark Twain during my days were Marv Torres and Steve Tubner. Both interesting guys with Marv having worked at the Park the longest. He drove the Fire Engine on Main Street for many years and actually drove it down to the castle Walt had his photograph taken in it for a souvenir guide (it's the one where Walt is leaning over the steering wheel).

I agree with Chuck about how the river looks today... but back when I was Working Lead I would actually have guys hall the cotton bails on board with the hand truck on the dock. We would load crates and barrels before the Guests would board to make it look like an authentic river boat. Plus it gave our Guests more to see, touch and sit on during their trip around the "Romantic Rivers of America."

Finally, the Standard Operating Procedure had three positions on board the ship. 1.) The "Pilot" who would "steer", spiel (live & taped), and give the Engineer signals (forward, stop the wheel, reverse and yes... Emergency Stop!). 2.) The "Deckhand" had the responsibility to be an extra set of eyes and communicate with the Engineer quickly in the even of an emergency. They would remain near the bow of the boat on the main deck until we would pass the canoe dock. Then they would do a safety walk and talk with guests up to the Promenade and Texas decks and ultimately to the "Wheel House" where they would bump the Pilot to assist with docking the ship and go to break. 3.) The "Engineer" had full control over the movement of the ship. Well I hope that provides a little more insight for anyone who is interested.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Matthew said...

Really??? My spelling and grammar are terrible. Let's work on that in the future shall we.

Anonymous said...


Some changes definitely occurred between the mid 70s and late 80s. One thing didn't. I too worked with Marv and also his twin Marty, mostly at the Big Game Shooting Gallery. Mr. O'Brian had likely left the Park by your time. He's memorialized in a special FB page for former cast members and beloved by those of who worked with him. Cheers,


Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I hope that you still have your badges. Or did they take them away when you were done working for Disney? That would be bad.

Matthew, thanks for all of that great info! I am very surprised that the bales of cotton were actually moved around (presumably they weren’t actually that heavy?). If that ever happened when I rode the Mark Twain, I unfortunately didn’t notice it. I honestly don’t even know if there is cargo on the loading dock anymore. It sounds like you have lots of Twain experience!

Matthew again, oh I make misspellings and grammatical errors all the time. No biggie.

KS, wow, Mr. O’Brian must have really been admired if a Facebook page was made for him.

Anonymous said...


Badges? We didn't need no stinkin' badges :). Just had name tags excluding the 'Captain' hat. Yes, Mr. O'Brian was a memorable character who was born to play the role.