Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Petrified Tree & Lafitte's Anchor, 1978 (Tues Jan 5)

Here are three more photos from the Mysterious Benefactor! What, only three? I feel like I've been kind of tearing through the scans that he so graciously shared, and am about to hit a stretch that involves about 150 photos of the Mark Twain, and many more of the Columbia; I'll probably cherry-pick the best of those, but there are a lot of repeat views, and a bunch that are super dark, so I realized that it wasn't going to be long before I was through the third and fourth folders of scans. I need to make them last. You understand, don't you?! (grabs your lapels) I'm not crazy!

Some husbands will give their wives a riding lawnmower, or perhaps a bowling ball, or a nice vacuum cleaner. I have two words for those men: cubic zirconia. But Walt Disney was no ordinary man; he presented this petrified tree trunk (50 to 70 million years old, 10 feet tall, weighing in at five tons) to his wife Lillian on their anniversary. Or so the story goes; turns out that is all just a good yarn, and the fossil tree trunk was always intended to go to Disneyland. Lillian did enjoy her riding lawnmower though!

The next two photos feature another oddball landmark - "Lafitte's Anchor", which has been on display in Frontierland since 1955. I don't know if this was another one of Walt's impulse buys - the company openly admits that it might not really be an anchor from pirate Jean Lafitte's ship from the Battle of New Orleans. Those two kids don't care, the only reason they wanted to go to Disneyland was to see that hunk of iron.

The anchor is now in New Orleans Square. Looking at photos, I can't help wondering if the durn thing has been "restored"... in these photos the longest bar of the anchor appears to be made of round stock, but recent photos looks like it is from hexagonal stock. If this ever gets out, there will be riots in the streets!

See for yourself.

MANY THANKS to the Mysterious Benefactor!


Nanook said...

That shot of the petrified tree trunk is quite superb. Also, the Golden Horseshoe is looking lovely - as it hadn't yet been subjected to all the 'color plussing' it suffers from these times.

And let the shouting match begin over the current authenticity of "Lafitte's Anchor". It certainly looks like the old switcheroo has taken place...

Thanks to the MB, and you too, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I wonder if the anchor (in it's former location) was deemed too dangerous, by the Disney lawyers? I also wonder if anyone ever fell onto the sharp ends of it? It looks like today, those parts of it have been buried in the dirt.

Here's a current look at it, from a little bit further back, to give an idea of exactly where it is located. I just bet you that some people try to sit or stand on it, while Fantasmic is going on.


Chuck said...

I always feel sad for that petrified tree, fenced in and shackled like it is. A tree should be free as it was meant to be. Ironic that it's anchored to the spot while the anchor is free-range.

A bit surprised to see the Mera Shop next to the Golden Horseshoe. I wouldn't think there would be much demand for merchandise based on such an obscure character as Aquaman's wife, particularly in Frontierland.

I believe that's the same anchor that's always been on display, but an odd shape and camera angles are confusing our eyes and brains into assuming that the vertical shank is round in the older photo (here's a primer on the anatomy of an achor - and no, I didn't know these terms when I woke up this morning).

If we look at some other photos from other angles, it appears that the sides of the shank that are immediately underneath the stock are flat, while the surface of the shank that connects the two flat sides is rounded along most of its length. The middle section appears to be flat on all sides; I'm going to guess that's where the balancing band (or "gravity band," according to another website) was located.

Here are a few more pictures over time that illustrate what I am talking about. I found all of these pictures at Long Forgotten (and if you haven't, everyone really should read this post for more information on the anchor and NOS meta-theming)(actually, if you haven't, you really should read the entire blog from the beginning. Go ahead - we'll wait for you):

Circa 2010. You can see the flat sides as well as the rounded surface more clearly due to the light.

1989. You can see the flat sides, the rounded sides, and the flat-faceted center section.

1964. You can see the flat-faceted center section as well as the portion that returns to the rounded sides before it hits the crown (or throat, take your pick)(who knew there were varying schools of thought on the names of parts of an anchor?).

1950s. You can clearly see the flat sides shown in today's photo.

Thanks, MB & Major!

Andrew said...

Chuck, I'm sure that you remember seeing the Mera Shop in these pictures from the MB a few months ago. And that's some awesome research!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, you might want to consider switching to decaf.

DrGoat said...

Well, thanks Chuck. I did get half-way through the article before I decided to go back to it later. That's one heck of a story, and certainly welcome info for my already crowded cranial database.
The photos are superb. Pics like these encourage some on the best comments, stuffed with insight, info and welcome distraction.
Lou & Sue, that was funny. Thanks for the laugh.
Thanks Major, and Mysterious B. Great Tuesday post.

"Lou and Sue" said...

DrGoat, I hope Chuck knows I tease him because I love him.

Am enjoying the photos and info - and especially love how they added the purple petunias to the base area of the anchor. Definitely a "Disney touch."

Thank you MB & MP!

JC Shannon said...

I knew nothing about anchors, except the ones the CVN Nimitz are really big. After all that info provided by Capt Chuck, I am now well read on the subject. Major, I know what you mean about gifts. This Christmas, I got my wife an impact driver and a set of ratcheting wrenches. I am from the Tim Allen school of gift giving, as you have probably surmised. Lou and Sue, the Chuckster did switch to decaf, he used to do Powerpoint presentations, and yes, he knows we all love him. Thanks Major, RRR.

Melissa said...


Anonymous said...

Threads like this are why we love Chuck, The Major, and the Mysterious Benefactor. Of course, I hold all the Junior Gorillas in high regard.

For some weird reason, I remember both of these oddball artifacts from my visits in youth, and barely remember them from my visits as a parent.

My guess is that anchor came from a San Pedro fishing boat, not a pirate ship, but hey, the story is everything.

@Tokyo, thanks for the map link, I am sure you are right, the new location in the planter is undoubtedly harder to sit on. I do recall sitting on one of those brick walls on the next level up, holding my sleeping son on my lap.

Memories like that are why I never get tired of Disneyland pictures.

Thanks Major, MB, and everyone.


Stu29573 said...


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, don’t you like the Golden Horseshoe in its “pumpkin delight” colors? Don’t you like BOLD COLORS?? If I had to bet money, I’d wager that Lafitte’s Anchor belonged to someone named Smitty.

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure that the old stone/concrete platform that the anchor was on was considered a “tripping hazard”, and you’re right, those sharp(ish) ends could injure somebody if they were stupid enough (and there is plenty of that to go around). People can try to sit on it, but the cast members will yell at them pretty quickly!

Chuck, Walt wasn’t a good gift giver for anniversaries. There was the 20 foot-tall teddy bear, and the bed that looked like a racecar, and the year’s supply of pork rinds. He meant well. I haven’t seen “Aquaman” (the trailers made it look so incredibly dumb), is it worth two hours of a person’s life? I feel bad that I wound up inadvertently causing you to do half an hour (or more?) of research! But I appreciate all of the effort to find the photographic proof and include all of the links, going back to the 1950s! Not to mention researching the anatomy of an anchor. I guess I can tear up my angry letter to “Parade” magazine now (it was a good one too). Also, last year I went back and read every article on the “Long Forgotten” blog, it was fun. Thanks, Chuck!

Andrew, Chuck has a photographic memory, so of course he remembers a camera shop!

Lou and Sue, or how about a nice glass of buttermilk?

DrGoat, ha ha, it sounds like your interest in Lafitte’s Anchor might not go as deep as some people’s! But hey, on this blog we like babushkas and telephone poles and shadows shaped like Fudgie the Whale, so it’s all good.

Lou and Sue, I’m sure Chuck is hip to the jive, as the kids say. I guess there are no truly blue flowers, maybe the purple was supposed to represent the ocean?

Jonathan, maybe you could take a night course at the local community college; “Anchors 101”. That way you won’t feel so left out? Trust me, the final exam is pretty tough. I hope your wife gave you a gift box of bubble bath soap and lotions, ha ha! I do remember my dad giving my mom a vacuum one year, but it was a shop vac that my mom actually asked for, so it wasn’t a “lame guy” thing.

Melissa, gesundheit!

JG, I know I would walk past the anchor and think, “Oh, there’s that thing I’ve read about online”, but I never stopped to regard it for any appreciable time. I like the carefully-applied barnacles, for that touch of veracity. Maybe the anchor has a “made in Taiwan” stamp on it somewhere. Aw, memories of your sleeping son sound very sweet.

Stu29573, great minds think alike!

DrGoat said...

Major, I did go back and finish the article. I didn't know about the ill fated crypt and catacomb scenario and the Haunted Mansion attic stuff.
I did fail to get my merit badge for anchors, but I did get one for petrified stumps. I've loved that stump for 60 years. Every time the giant gem show came to town, you could find me wandering around the petrified stumps, some 10 feet tall, wondering how I could get one to fit in the living room. Apart from the fact that they were very expensive, the idea was nixed by my better half.
Thanks again
PS Alas, no gem show this year.

JC Shannon said...

Major, my wife once told me, never give your wife anything she has to plug in.

Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the “Long-Forgotten” blog, it’s that the trivia and arcane knowledge relevant to the Haunted Mansion goes on forever. It’s part of what makes it such a fascinating ride, and it drives me crazy when the Imagineers think that they are doing us a favor by answering some of the mysteries. When there’s no mystery, there’s nothing interesting! It’s just laziness, if you ask me. My mom has a few chunks of petrified wood that she’s purchased at mineral shows, and some of them are really beautiful with reds, ochres, and even slate blues. I love a good gem show, hopefully they will be able to do them again next year.

Jonathan, that seems like a good rule of thumb… unless it’s a thing that is specifically requested. One year my mom wanted a new blender because she and my dad liked to make daiqueris. They'd drink them out of these cool globe-shaped black glasses that my mom still has.

Anonymous said...

After reading the Long Forgotten article again, I notice that there is no consensus for spelling Lafitte, Laffite, etc.

I'm going to spell it Laffitte from now on, in order to not take sides.


Chuck said...

The sad thing is that I got up at 4:15 this morning so I could get to work early to prep for a presentation to a senior executive. You can see how well that worked out for me.

Andrew, I wish I could take credit for tracking down all of those pictures of the anchor, but they all came from the same Long Forgotten blog post. I just happened to remember HBG2 had done an article that included the anchor and looked there after Daveland's photos were inconclusive. And I do remember the interior of the Mera Shop. Talk about deceptive naming - nothing aquatic for sale at all!

Sue, :-) The funny thing is that I haven't had a caffeinated beverage since the end of December 2017. Didn't set out to do that on purpose; I realized I hadn't had one in a week in early 2018 and decided to see how long I could go. I'm less jumpy and I sleep better now, but I don't really notice any change in my alertnezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

{yawn, stretch] Sorry about that. No idea what could have [yawn] caused me to nod off like that.

And I know you're kidding, Sue. ;-)

DrGoat, you get full credit for completing the article. I've entered a gold star in the gradebook next to your name.

Major, there's an Aquaman movie?

JG, I'm going to start spelling it "Le Feet." That's how I roll.

Suddenly reminded that I got a Mego Jean Le Feet action figure in about 1975 (I was 6 or 7). I remember it because:

1. My mom gave it to me out of the blue, which wasn't something she normally did and

2. Who the heck issues an action figure of a relatively obscure pirate in 1975? Mego had the license for Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, DC and Marvel, and they went with the "World's Greatest Super Pirates???!!"

And now that I've said that...my mom and I sat down and did some research on Jean Le Feet in my encyclopedia so I had some context. And then I knew who he was when his character guest-starred on the Martin Milner Swiss Family Robinson. And I understood the significance of the "Le Feet's Landing" sign in the POTC load area the next time I rode it. And his name came up again later when I did research on the Battle of New Orleans for a grade school report. And he's now my favorite pirate. Darn that woman for sneakily making me love history!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, the odd thing is that I didn’t even really think about how to spell “Lafitte”, I just typed it and there it was. Maybe it’s wrong. Oh well, he’s in Davey Jones’ Locker and won’t haunt me. I hope.

Chuck, holy moly, 4:15 in the morning! I once got up super early (for reasons to convoluted to go into) to get to Disney Studio early, and it turned out I couldn’t even get in yet. So I had to park on the street and wait until the gate guards showed up. I kept thinking, “I could have had another 45 minutes in bed!”. I don’t drink coffee or tea (well, I’ll have tea if I have a cold), but I will drink caffeinated sodas on occasion. I no longer buy them to drink at home though. Yes, there’s an Aquaman movie, smart aleck! ;-) Every clip I saw was so full of CGI stupidity that I had to avoid it. The only Mego figures I’ve ever owned are “Planet of the Apes” figures. We even had a couple still on their cardboard hangers, until my little brother found them and opened them so that he could shoot at the figures with a BB gun. The little jerk. I’m more of a fan of Cap’n Crunch’s nemesis, Jean Lafoote. Did you know that the Cap’n’s full name is Horatio Magellen Crunch? Fake history is way better than real history!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, do you remember when Jean LaFoote had his very own breakfast cereal?