Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On The Columbia, June 1958

Until around five years ago, every one of my trips around the Rivers of America was aboard the Mark Twain. I just love that boat! But I finally enjoyed a ride on the venerable Columbia; to be honest I can't recall if I just made an executive decision, or if the Mark Twain was being refurbished. Either way, it was fun to see the sights under slightly different circumstances, and with different narration.

Both of  today's photos are from June, 1958. I especially like this first one, looking through the shrouds and rigging toward the Chicken Plantation. Let's all take a moment to appreciate those people from nearly 60 years ago, with their comfortable summer clothing and occasional souvenir hats!

Zooming in, we can see the seldom-photographed bridge that went over a small tributary that directly connected to the Jungle Cruise's "Rivers of the World". At this time it was where guests could catch a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island and back. I'm pretty sure that if you stood on the bridge and looked upriver, three crocodiles glared back with beady eyes (and a song in their hearts).

This one is a bit less interesting, unless you are a fan of magnificently combed and oiled hair! Vitalis? Wildroot Cream-oil? Crisco?  Please DO NOT lend me your comb.


K. Martinez said...

Major, I'm amazed when you comment about the Disneyland attractions you haven't experienced until much later. I'm not sure if you ever rode the Explorer Canoes, but that's another unique view that I always make sure to do every visit to Disneyland.

Again, when I see pics of "pre-Matterhorn" Disneyland it makes we wish I was born a wee bit earlier to experience the feel of Walt's park in the 1950's. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, clearly today's photos have really captured the imaginations of the readers! There have definitely been gaps in my Disneyland experiences - the canoes, the Keel Boats (RIP), and until recently, the Casey Jr. Circus Train and the Columbia. There might be others too, though they don't come to mind immediately. I agree, it would have been amazing to have been able to really experience "Walt's park" in that first decade.

Melissa said...

Lots of great people, clothes, and hats in the first picture, but lookee that guy in the middle, with the dark shades on. He's got his little red camera POINTED STRAIGHT AT US - he's traveled back in time to steal our souls!

Major, are these part of a set that you've posted other pictures from before? The lady in the foreground with her face half-hidden by Johnny Pomade looks strikingly familiar.

Lend you my comb? I'd never do anything so Kookie!

Anonymous said...

I'm a Dapper Dan myself. None of that 'Fop' stuff for me.

I rode the Columbia in 2015 for the first time in at least 40 years. It was great.

The Thurl soundtrack was mostly as I recalled it, and the below-deck displays still there. I do love it, but the MT is great too.

Really looking forward to the new river, hoping it won't be too disappointing.


Melissa said...

Oh, and I have so much regret for the attractions I never visited when I had the opportunity. (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, anyone?)

I guess the lesson is, do as much as you can while you've got the chance, even if you're not completely sure you'll like it, because there's no guarantee it'll be there next time.

Nanook said...


It's not just "... magnificently combed and oiled hair-!" - but also a fan of buttoned-down collars-!

@ Melissa-

I have only vague memories of traipsing-through 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and riding on the Rocket to the Moon, to name but two. (I have better memories of walking through Mineral Hall). But I also know I experienced the Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches, The Conestoga Wagons, The Midget Autopia and The House of the Future, etc., but have no real memories of doing so.

I have to wonder if I was 'lucky enough' to also waltz through The Hall of Aluminum Fame, The World Beneath Us, or - GULP - even The Dairy Bar. I guess those memories are swirling-around somewhere in my brain.

Thanks, Major.

steve2wdw said...

Here's a bit of trivia, regarding DL's Columbia. When WDW's MK was being developed, a second Columbia was destined for the east coast DL. To be docked in Liberty Square, it would have been a perfect fit for the Florida park, as the original Columbia was built in Plymouth, MA. The paddlewheel ship, Admiral Joe Fowler, made it's debut with the MK in '71, and it was realized that when a second ship was being planned for debut in '73, due to Florida's hot and rainy summers, a second paddlewheeler would be a better choice, as a Columbia features most of it's capacity on the open deck. Hence the Richard F Irvine was constructed (now rechristened Liberty Belle). There is artwork of the MK featuring the Columbia, docked appropriately next to the Columbia Harbour House restaurant (the Liberty Square Landing), although I can't seem to find it at the moment. It certainly would have looked beautiful plying the MK RoA, especially with the Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents and the rest of Liberty Square in the background.

K. Martinez said...

@steve2wdw, we discussed the Columbia Sailing Ship being at WDW's MK before here on GDB as it seemed to be a good fit for Liberty Square so it's interesting to hear from you that it was actually planned for the Magic Kingdom. Thanks for that bit of info.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, yes, I definitely noticed that dude with the camera pointed straight at us! I do believe that I have posted photos from this batch before - sometimes I scan so much or look at old scans that I forget what I have actually shared.

JG, ha ha, I love “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”. I loved riding the Columbia, and was a bit surprised when they fired the cannon - lots of other people were REALLY surprised and jumped about a foot into the air. I can’t recall if the soundtrack had Thurl’s voice, much to my shame.

Melissa, do you mean the “20,000 Leagues” attraction in Florida? Your advice is definitely good - the problem is, I was often with other people who did not want to do the same things I wanted to do. This is why I no longer have friends.

Nanook, you definitely experienced a bunch of Disneyland stuff that I never did. My brother claims that we did the 20K walk-thru when we were really little, but I was a toddler when it closed, so I definitely don’t remember it, if he’s right. And I would absolutely LOVE to somehow experience those sponsored exhibits in Tomorrowland, even the Dairy Bar!

steve2wdw, I am almost certain I have seen the artwork you referred to, though I am not sure where. However, until reading your comment, I’d forgotten that they intended for there to be a Columbia at the Magic Kingdom. It really would have been cool! The weather would have certainly been an issue in Florida, so I suppose they made the right choice, although they wound up destroying one of the steamships anyway.

K. Martinez, there is a part of me that wishes that everything was completely different at the Magic Kingdom so that a visitor from the west could see all new stuff. So instead of a Matterhorn, maybe they could have had a volcano ride. Or something!

K. Martinez said...

Major, I read somewhere that the original three Fantasyland dark rides for the Magic Kingdom were going to be based on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Sleeping Beauty" and "Mary Poppins"? I think that would've been awesome!

TokyoMagic! said...

The girl on the far right of the last pic, looks like a young Elvira Mistress of the Dark, before her "hair bump" matured.

Chuck said...

Ken, those would have been awesome dark rides indeed. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow would have made a good transition ride between Liberty Square and Fantasyland. Mary Poppins would have pleased Nanook, and the Fantasyland expansion could have included a Happiest Millionaire attraction for TM!.

JG said...

@Major, the original soundtrack featured a traditional whaling song "The Boston Come All Ye". The tag line was "Then blow ye winds westerly, westerly blow; we’re bound to the southward, so steady she goes."

Thurl Ravenscroft was part of the singing group Norman Luboff Choir which featured this song on their album "Songs of the Sea".

I think the Disney version might be slightly different lyrics, or maybe just shorter due to the need for the narration in the soundtrack.

I always loved the song as a boy, and as technology improved search abilities, I finally figured it all out and got a copy of the album.

Here is a link to another blog (regrettably now silent) with the lyrics and more of the story >>



TokyoMagic! said...

I also didn't know about the different dark rides originally planned for WDW's Fantasyland. Instead of a Sleeping Beauty dark ride, it seems like they should have been planning a ride themed around Cinderella to coordinate with the park's castle. I guess that would have made just too much sense. I do like the idea of a Legend of Sleepy Hollow attraction and agree with Chuck about it being a good transition between Fantasyland and Liberty Square.

Chuck, a Happiest Millionaire ride? From your lips (finger tips) to Mickey's ears!!! Although Main St. might be a better location for such a ride. They could always just gut all of the shops on one side of Main St. and put it in there. You just know they've probably already considered doing that for a Guardians of the Galaxy or Iron Man ride..