Saturday, June 09, 2007

Conestoga Wagon

The Conestoga Wagons was an attraction that debuted about a month after Disneyland opened. I wonder how many actual prarie schooners there were? No more than two, I would guess. For about four years, they offered guests a chance to experience a bumpy ride through the Living Desert.

"Westward Ho!" was a tie-in to the 1956 Disney movie, "Westward Ho! The Wagons". It has never been released on DVD, but from what I've read, it is a routine western starring Fess Parker, along with Jeff "Mike Fink" York, Iron Eyes Cody, and Sebastian Cabot. A wagon train is headed to Oregon (I've seen another Conestoga Wagon with "Oregon or Bust!" painted on the canvas), and along the way they pass through dangerous Pawnee country, with an attack on the wagon train choreographed by Yakima Canutt. Upon their arrival at Fort Laramie, Fess (a doctor) helps a Lakota medicine man to save a sick Indian boy. The Indians and the settlers learn that "Two medicines are better than one", a nice message of tolerance and acceptance.

The following image is a scan from a 1956 Viewmaster packet, it's a great view of one wagon splashing through a pool of alkaline water (the remains of one of the desert's unpredictable flash floods). Don't drink it or you'll go plum loco!


Anonymous said...

Westward Ho the Wagons also featured some Mouseketeers: Doreen, Cubby, Tommy and Karen. David Stollery (Marty in Spin and Marty) was also in it.

templerman said...

I sometimes wonder if many of us could weather the vicissitudes of a 2500-mile trip in a Conestoga wagon. Just think, with a rifle, powder and ball, and little more than a few basic tools, some flour, salt, lard, sugar, and what other miscellaneous items that the settlers took with them. In addition, setting out from your home, a home that has been all your family for five generations has known, and to head west into an uncertain future. I wonder how many of those of us living now could endure such a journey and survive it?