Friday, May 19, 2017

Frontierland Construction, May 1962

Today's scans feature two slides that, at first, seem to be some rather "blah" images of Frontierland. But upon closer inspection, they reveal a few neat details!

Here is the first scan... see what I mean? "Nothing too special!". However, as we've seen in a few other photos, notice that the Columbia is moored at Tom Sawyer Island.

Zooming in, we can see a whole lot of major construction going on, with acres of dirt, and many boxed trees. This work included the removal of the Plantation House, and additions to the Indian Village. I believe that this is also when the large underground area that was to become the never-actualized "Thieves Market" (the early wax museum version of what would become "Pirates of the Caribbean") was excavated. To our left is the skeleton of the Swiss Family Treehouse, which will debut in November of '62! 

Here's a second shot, with a raft from Tom Sawyer Island heading back to the mainland. Not quite as neat as the first photo, but still pretty nice.


Scott Lane said...

Has anybody ever figured out why the Columbia was moored at TSI? Was the dry dock undergoing construction or rehab?

Gnometrek said...

I wonder if the large underground area is still there. Is is occupied? If not I call dibs!

Stuart Powley said...

I thought they converted the underground area into Pirates of the Caribbean...but I could be confused.

Patrick Devlin said...

Boy, those are some kind of cool shots today, Major! St least for the geek that I am. I've seen one other shot where the Columbia is apparently off the rails, but I wonder if there is some kind of branch in the rail system. Inquiring minds want to know...

Major Pepperidge said...

Scott Lane, it’s safe to assume that the Columbia was not in service at this period, though I don’t know if it was undergoing any sort of rehab as well. And Fowler’s Harbor would have presumably been affected by the major construction on the western shore.

Gnometrek, I have read that the early construction was eventually ripped out (after the World’s Fair was done) and that space was incorporated into the new New Orleans Square work, which included “Pirates”, as well as (I believe) an employee dining area and kitchens for food prep.

Stuart Powley, yeah, that is basically my understanding as well.

Patrick Devlin, I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think that there was a rail in place to put the Columbia on the shore of the island; perhaps it was towed there?

K. Martinez said...

Disneyland was going through constant change from opening on through the 1960's. It's like a child who rapidly grows and changes before settling into itself and matures.

Thanks, Major.

Check out this 1962 aerial construction photo. Even Adventureland looks heavily effected by the construction. Half of the Jungle Cruise appears to be scrapped. I'd assume that's for the Cambodian Ruins and Elephant Bathing Pool.

Chuck said...

That is a wild photo, Ken!

The RoA is drained, leaving both ships high and dry, and half of the JC and southern Frontierland are nothing but graded dirt. You can also see the HM's embryo beginning to take shape, with portions of what I think (JG, help me out here) are a couple of foundation walls. Was that parking lot back there by the HM for the former Holidayland?

DrGoat said...

Amazing images. We had already been there 4 times before '62 and I don't remember any construction work. My mind didn't seem to retain those sights at all.

Tom said...

Awesome pics today! Love the angle and everything it reveals.

The shift of the railroad course is subtle but just enough to really open things up over there behind NOS and give plenty of room for all the little shops and things. Originally it would have run right in front of the haunted mansion, according to aerial shots. Too bad the Plantation House didn't survive...

K. Martinez said...

DrGoat, I was around during the construction of New Orleans Square and I don't remember any of it either.

JG said...

@Major, these are very interesting photos, thanks for posting them. I'm agreeing with the analysis so far.

@Ken, how did you find this amazing aerial? This is fascinating! There are a number of things here I can't identify at all.

@Chuck, I rhink we are seeing the beginning excavation of the HM foundation area, there is a structure at the back of the pit that looks like the wall that will ultimately support the DLRR track as it passes through the HM and allows the HM passageway (now the Portrait Gallery) to go under the RR. At this time, the HM was envisioned as a walk-through ride, much like the original POC concept, with two parallel identical routes so groups wouldn't follow each other too closely. With the invention of the Omnimover mechanism for ATIS, this concept was scrapped and a single ride was developed. The only remnants of this concept in the final design are the dual identical elevators, again to keep the groups spaced apart and provide the pre-show lecture by the Ghost Host.

There's an oblong structure to the left that looks like a cut-and-cover tunnel, but I am not aware of anything like that in that area today. Maybe this is a service tunnel for vehicles to pass under the RR that is now superseded?

To the right, opposite Fowler's Harbor, about where Splash Mountain begins today is a long reddish structure that looks like a bridge girder with an intermediate column, whose ends appear to bear on walls. This might be part of the DLRR route as it appears to be in that ROW. I don't remember the RR route before Critter Country very well, was there a trestle in that area when it was the Indian Village? There is a similar structure to the upper right of the Main Street Station, again with a vehicle route under it, so I'm pretty sure that both are for the DLRR.

To the upper left, beyond the monorail beam, there is a line of trees that swoops out into the parking lot, with a structure in the middle of the line. I think this was the separate entrance to the former Holidayland area, but not sure. The earthmovers are parked just inside the monorail track and there is a lumber lay-down area and a stockpile of crated mature trees (lighter green foliage). The darker green trees beyond appear to be in the ground and must have been part of the original property improvements. I don't know much about the Holidayland layout, or whether it overlapped in time with the monorail or not.

Another interesting detail visible from this angle is the service tunnel and access road to the back of Nature's Wonderland. The group has commented before on the side visible from the little train, disguised as a mine tunnel. There are probably tracks in the road to take the trains out to the North 40 for repair and maintenance.

Almost as amazing is the rest of the photo, old Tomorrowland, the Flying Saucers, farmland (!!), the Disneyland Hotel, the tiny (by today's standards) parking lot, and only one or two motels on Harbor.

Thanks everyone for a wonderful Friday Morning!


Anonymous said...

Will add a comment...that construction picture is truly amazing. Looks like nearly a third of the Park is closed off. The trestle was built at the time of the Bear Country expansion. KS

Chuck said...

JG, wow! Grand slam!

Noticing a few more details as I run through your observations...

The third and final location of the Disneyland Heliport is visible in the upper center of Ken's photo.

Is that the Circle D Ranch at the extreme center right?

Note that there are no railroad tracks leading to the monorail shed on the right side of the photo. Today, the trains and Monorail share the same "roundhouse" facility on that site, but in 1962, they were separate facilities. Note the tunnel portal in the extreme NW corner of the park and the original train shed beyond. By 1962, the front end of the shed had been widened to accommodate additional locomotives, although the back end still seems to be only wide enough to store two car sets as it did on opening day.

Compare this 1960 photo from Yesterland with Ken's photo and you can see that that curved line of trees or hedges was indeed the southern perimeter of Holidayland. You can also see that those darker green trees weren't there in 1960. Were these perhaps moved temporarily from elsewhere in Frontierland or Adventureland during construction?

Funny how we're suddenly all commenting on a photo that isn't even on this blog. :-)

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

Let me add my kudos for providing that most-interesting of aerial views of Disneyland. That, along with commentary from JG & Chuck has made for a very interesting post.

Add my name to the list of those who visited the Park in its early years (multiple, multiple times) only to have those specific memories vanish with time. Short of a great Photoshop project - Major-??... I've provided proof-positive images on these very 'pages' of my being there in the formative years, (and there are even home movies of my "making an appearance" there in 1956). Thankfully, my memories from the late 1970's onward are much more vivid, although they do tend to run together.

Thanks to ALL (and of course The Major) for a great GDB day.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that photos is amazing for all the little details that it captures.

Ken, that aerial is also amazing. Who knew that they demolished so much of the western side of the park back then. Fortunately, Walt was someone with incredible vision and had insanely talented people working for him.

Chuck said...

A random thought - in our comments, we tend to bemoan the current construction project that is massively changing the Frontierland we know. The construction we see in these photos was every bit as much of a change (and maybe more) for early Disneyland guests as Star Wars Land is for us today, yet these changes were (and are) seen as positive rather than the negative way we view the current project.

I understand why we believe that the current project is different (and wrong-headed) in so many ways, but it is interesting to note the superficial similarities between then and now.

JG said...

@Chuck, Re: the dark green trees. I think you are right, the "orchard" is probably the existing mature trees from the JC and the River relocated, while the lighter ones are new ones in containers. Wow, what a job of "tree-location".

The aerial with the Holidayland tent is very nice, I didn't have a good memory of where this was located, but the aerials are bringing it back. Notice there was an underpass below the DLRR about in the middle of the JC. Was this "backstage" access only? Or could guests pass back and forth from Holidayland to Disneyland?

It's fun to see the JC boats in the rivers too.

This picture >

from Daveland blog's indispensable archive, dated '62 or '63 shows the monorail route through HL as seen in today's photo, along with a re-vegetated JC, with shadow lines etc. Clearly visible in the center is the big truss supporting the DLRR over the HM walkway (dark rectangles under the truss), whose beginning I think we are seeing in today's pic, from the opposite side. If today's pic is 1962, then I think Dave's pic must be more like mid to late '63. This shot also has the hotel tower, which is not evident in Ken's pic. That should be datable construction, if anyone wants to follow up.

Also, put me down in agreement with your last post. I have cautious hopes for SWL, recent developments having been better than those of the previous decade or so.

This has been a lot of fun. Thank you everyone very much. Really improved my Friday.


Nanook said...

I share Chuck's sentiment. Even though many recent changes and "refreshes" have fallen flat, a wait-and-see attitude may still yield positive results. We can only hope...

Dean Finder said...

In any case, Disney is announcing the return of the DLRR and RoA:
The big news is that waterfalls are back.