Friday, November 03, 2017

Frontierland, Sans River - October 1970

Today I have two more unlovely (but interesting!) scans from October, 1970, featuring an empty Rivers of America.

First up is this great shot of a very cool sign, explaining why the river is dry (this photo required 4 years of diligent Photoshop drudgery in order to make it presentable). Sorcerer Mickey has really bungled it this time, apparently; this is a particularly neat illustration, with the river's water hovering 50 feet above the land, while the Columbia and Mark Twain continue to cruise along as if nothing has happened. Have fun disembarking! (Notice that there are even tiny fish in the water). 

As TokyoMagic! pointed out in the comments a few weeks ago, you can see the back side of this sign along the far bank in this photo (to the left).

Here's a neat shot of the Columbia at rest on the riverbed, with its track plainly visible. As I understand it, when the river is full, the Columbia floats just a little, but still essentially "rolls" on wheels beneath the ship. Please correct me if I'm wrong! Notice the decorations on the vertical poles in the foreground, indicating that our photographer was standing near the Indian Dance Circle. Also note the stepladder leading 2/3 of the way up the side of the Columbia - close enough, I guess!


Nanook said...


I'm afraid that rather surreal signage for the maintenance of The Rivers of America conjures-up many versions of the "watch that first step" joke. (If only Sorcerer Mickey could really levitate the Rivers so easily...)

And as far as those 'wheels' on the Columbia are concerned, that's the very same method of locomotion I use beneath my shoes. It comes in very handy when evading the law-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, a color photo of that sign! That 1970 "Disney News Magazine" article ("Dry Me A River") only had a teeny tiny black and white photo of it. Forty seven years later, I finally get to see a larger and color version of this sign. Thanks, Major!

I believe that that area in the bottom right corner of the second pic is the slip for the Indian War Canoes. I still want to go traipsing around in that dirt river bed!!!

Chuck said...

Now that's an effect I'd be willing to sit through Fantasmic! again for (although not in the first 43 rows - that backsplash would be a doozy).

Steve DeGaetano said...

These are both amazing images!

Who would ever have though about wasting a precious frame of expensive film on what is essentially an "out of order" sign? What prescience!

The second one demonstrates the fallacy that is seen over and over again on the Internet that the Rivers of America is "20 feet deep" or some similar number.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Also, the pic of the Columbia features one of those boxy colonial lanterns that fascinate me so, hanging from the yard arm right above the figurehead. I just always thought it was such a neat detail.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that the "floor" of the river was dirt until recently.

The Disney Dudebro said...

Darn it, Mickey! First those brooms and now this? When are you going to learn not to mess with the sorcerer's hat?!?!

All kidding aside, this is very interesting and rare. Wonder why they drained the river. This is 1970, so that's 22 years before Fanatasmic, and thus too early for them to be setting up. LOL!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I have to admit that I sometimes get a bit jealous when I see kids gliding around the mall on their “wheelie” shoes. It looks like fun!

TokyoMagic! I didn’t know that you had only seen a black and white photo of this sign. Incidentally, in my photo, it looks like the sign might be in front of the Mark Twain/Columbia queue structure (I think) - perhaps they had more than one version of the sign, placed at different points around the river’s edge.

Chuck, ME TOO!

Steve DeGaetano, if only the photographer had used Kodak film instead of that awful GAF crap. I agree, it is very cool that this person took a nice picture of that wonderful sign. I did not know that websites were saying that the Rivers of America was so deep - it seems like as long as I can remember, I’d heard that it was mostly very shallow.

Steve DeGaetano, thanks for pointing out the lamp!

Anon, I think I’d heard that the riverbed was lined with clay, to help prevent drainage. I’m sure it’s concrete now.

The Disney Dudebro, they have drained the river a number of times over the years, though I am not sure why they did it in 1970. I believe that construction for “Bear Country” (later renamed “Critter Country”) began in 1971, perhaps this draining had something to do with that?

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I think you are right about there being more than one sign. In fact, if I'm remembering that article correctly (without getting it out), I think the sign they showed was at the southern most part of the river, across from the mill. That would make at least three signs that were posted around it.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Major, I've mostly seen the deeper ROA numbers on fan forums.

Dean Finder said...

I knew that the river was only a few feet deep, but I hadn't thought about how the Columbia would be a flat-bottom boat.

Now that I see it, I'm interested to see how the propulsion works on the Columbia. Does the rail only guide it, or do the drive wheels propel it on the rail? There must be wheels on the outside for balance when there's no water - are they drive wheels or just balance wheels?

Anonymous said...

A bit late but the Columbia uses a propeller for its motion. The guide only acts as the steering mechanism. Enjoyed many a day/night working/driving it. The River would go dry for routine maintenance, though not often. This was one of those times. KS