Monday, October 02, 2017

Scenes From Frontierland, 1956

Today's images are less than spectacular, but they have some good qualities! First of all, they have excellent Kodachrome color, looking fresh and bright over 60 years later. And they both show Frontierland's riverbank scenes as they appeared when Disneyland was only a year old. (FYI, I originally thought these were from 1957, but upon considering some of the other pix in the batch - one showing some distant Phantom Boats - I am fairly confident that they are actually from '56).

 Just north of the Indian Village (on the west shore of the river), guests could see this unusual scene; a  dead body, tightly wrapped, and on a raised platform. That's right, in the old Frontierland, death was mentioned in several instances! Behind the platform is a stretched buffalo hide - something about its shape makes it look as if the body is sitting up. Or is it just me??

I hope you don't hate meeses to pieces, because we have a trio of meeses. One is in the water (to our left), chomping on reeds or sedges. All three are looking intently to the left - perhaps the ice cream truck is coming?

I wonder if these animals were originally taxidermied specimens, somehow made weatherproof? Were they covered at night to protect them? I am certain that all of the scenic animals in Frontierland are fiberglass these days, but if they were sculptures in the early days, they did an amazing job.


Nanook said...


"Hard facts" a-plenty, in these scenes. And surprisingly, telephone pole/wire-free-! And count me in as far as the anthropomorphic-looking buffalo hide is concerned. (Could 'she' be sporting a babushka-??)

Thanks, Major.


Had the pictures been from '57 we would have seen plastic slip covers over the tepees , big ashtrays on the end-hides and green glass grapes out front.

TokyoMagic! said...


In the lower right corner of that first pic, we can see part of the circle of cattle skulls on posts, that was present along the river for many years. Does anyone know it's significance? I'm assuming it was more than just "decoration."

K. Martinez said...

No jackalopes-!?! I'm disappointed. The meeses are cool though. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

That bare ridge in the center of TSI looks a bit like distant desert hills, which, I'm sure, was the intent. Forced perspective doesn't have to be high-tech or expensive to be effective.

TM!, the ring of bison skulls is intended to represent Sioux ceremonial and ritual practice. This post at Long-Forgotten has more context on both the ceremonial circle as well as the raised burial platform.

HBG2 said... first I got all excited that the Lakota-type burial scene on TSI must have originated in the Indian Village tableau on the west bank, but after closely comparing that '56 photo with a '58 photo (find it at Daveland or at my blog), I'm convinced that the top photo is in fact a shot of TSI and not the west bank. Fort Wilderness would be immediately to the left, out of shot. If correct, this is the earliest good photo I've seen of it, and since TSI didn't open until '56 and was pretty bare before that, this is about as early a photo of it as anyone is likely to find. Nice find!

Anonymous said...

Great photos, brilliant commentary, sarcastic asides, mind-bogglingly minute details of obscure rituals, and meticulous documentation of Disneyland history and geography...

All included in the (extremely reasonable) cost of admission to the world of GDB.

Thanks Major and contributors for a fascinating start to the week.


Melissa said...

It's the Mickey Moose Club!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I think that when Walt Disney referred to “hard facts”, he was talking about meese!

Mike Cozart, my grandma kept bunches of glass grapes on her table forever! I always liked them. Wonder where they wound up?

TokyoMagic!, if you ask me, skulls brighten any decor, and are suitable for all occasions. Need a wedding gift in a hurry? Bring a skull!

K. Martinez, by the 1950’s, jackalopes had already been hunted to near-extinction. Fortunately, their numbers are on the rebound.

Chuck, thanks for the link to the Long-Forgotten post… I thought he had hung up his blogging hat!

HBG2, I thought you’d hung up your blogging hat! But I’m glad that you are still finding interesting things to write about. Like you, I was under the impression that the scene with the Indian burial was on the west shore of the river. I’m pretty surprised to find out that it was on Tom Sawyer Island. Glad you found something useful today!

JG, and here I thought today’s photos would be of only moderate interest. I am glad to be mistaken - a state that I am all too familar with!

Melissa, I still have my vintage moose ears - er, antlers.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Major,if your grandpa was anything like mine, those glass grapes might've ended up in his lower intestines. Now THOSE are some hard facts. (And count me glad, too, to see more posts on Long Forgotten!)