Friday, December 02, 2016

A Tale of Two Indian Villages

Here are two beautiful views taken on a lovely May day in 1958, featuring two contrasting Indian villages in Frontierland. 

Let's start with this shot of one Indian Village - one that guests could access and explore by walking through a tunnel that ran parallel to the train tracks. Teepees are clustered near the shore, where the canoes appear to be out of commission on this day. Just a smidgen of the Dance Circle can be seen to our left. A lone human being (a cast member?) is to the extreme right. Hard to believe that the park was so empty on this spectacular day.

As the Mark Twain continued on its journey, it encountered a second village; the "Friendly Indian Village". Was this a new feature in 1958? Clearly those teepees were made of raw canvas, and had not yet been painted and aged to resemble tanned buffalo hides like the ones in the previous photo. Most of the inhabitants are still there, though more were added over the years. 


Nanook said...


These are certainly a couple of yummy shots. That cloud-filled sky is so perfect, it could easily be mistaken for a beautifully-done matte painting.

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

Are we sure Ross Yost didn't paint these?

The teepees in the second photo remind me of the plastic teepee that came with my Marx Fort Apache playset. The off-white color and even the line of wooden fasteners above the entrance. About the only thing missing is the seam where the two halves of the teepee snapped together. Sadly, I seem to have lost the right half of my teepee; if anyone's seen it, please let me know.

The second photo also seems to predate the birth of Shiny Boy and his dog, Waggles.

These are truly a beautiful set today, Major.

Unknown said...

Sure the village looks quiet now, but just wait until the cavalry troop from Fort Wilderness shows up to do some "trading".

Chuck, I thought the dog's name was "Dinner"...

Funny you should mention matte paintings, Nanook: it's just what I thought of as well. All the way back in the 30s and 40s, long before the days of digital compositing, filmmakers would prettify cloudless Southern California skies shot on location with color slides of real skies optically printed together to provide atmosphere.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, matte paintings!! OK, stop what you’re doing and go check out Matte Shot - A Tribute to Golden Era Special FX You’ll thank me and probably want to give me all your money.

Chuck, they were painted by Earl Scheib, for just $29.99. I loved those old Marx playsets, though I think I had one with a moon colony - no cowboys, cavalry, or Indians. “Waggles” sounds like a Hanna Barbera character. He probably befriended a baby duck.

Patrick Devlin, mmmm, that dog is a fricasseein’ dog if I ever saw one! Please see my comment to Nanook. You’ll be looking at that blog for days.

K. Martinez said...

I assume the "live" Indian Village was empty as far as guests go because it was closed off that day. Note the covered canoes. But I could be wrong.

The inhabitants of the "Friendly Indian Village" have been evicted from their Teepee homes due to the Galactic Empire's westward expansion. The inhabitants are currently in a relocation program awaiting relocation to a new site a wee bit closer to the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge.

I'm normally not a huge fan of the Indian Village pics, but these are really special. Makes me appreciate it a lot more. Thanks, Major.

Chuck, I never heard the name "Shiny Boy and his dog, Waggles". I like it!

Anonymous said...

These are really nice pics. Agree with the matte painting take. Talk about a lost art now. I remember watching a Star Wars special where LucasFilm bragged about spending 8000 labor hours on a matte painting that was eventually never used, as a sign of their meticulous devotion to their art. I guess you can do that when people spend billions on cheap plastic cr*p based on your films.

I have only the vaguest memories of the Indian village, I guess we never went there. Not sure why, but maybe because once you have seen the dancers, there's not much else to do. I know my Mom hated the canoes and would never ride them. Was anything else in this location before Bear Country came in the late '70's? That's all I remember up there.


Unknown said...

Oh great, Major, there goes my week. I've been a vintage (pre-1990) VFX fan forever. Earlier this I got Special Effects Cinematography by Raymond Fielding. Along with The Invisible Art I was in geek heaven. The books are a little pricey, but well worth it.

Nanook said...


I was initially holding-back 'giving you all my money', as a brief perusal of the referenced site apparently failed to mention the name of Linwood Dunn - a travesty to be sure. Upon closer inspection I can see he's received his proper due. This created a huge conundrum for me. Hmmmm.

My advice, Major, would be to never leave your house, as I believe those 'fine folks' from the Publishers Clearing House will be arriving at any moment to present you with "your winnings". What - had you really thought my wealth matched that of Scrooge McDuck-?? Not hardly. PCH is a much-safer bet, believe me-!

Chuck said...

JG, the construction of Bear Country started within days of the Indian Village's closure in 1971. Although pretty much everything else was razed, the Indian Trading Post survived both the 1972 opening of Bear Country and the 1989 opening of Critter Country, although it was rethemed as "The Briar Patch." It's still open today.