Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Frontierland in Black and White

I have two very nice black and white photos for you today, scanned from a few strips of negatives. They are undated, but are probably pre-1959, I think. 

We'll start with this neat shot taken from Tom's Treehouse (on Tom Sawyer Island, naturally), looking north along the Rivers of America. There's the Mark Twain chugging away, heading straight toward some elk on the riverbank. To our left is the landing for the Indian War Canoes, the Indian Village, and... not much else.

For you fans of telephone poles... you're welcome! 

Why not zoom in for a better look? This photo is very nice, in spite of the lack of color. 

Next is another view from a different vantage point on Tom Sawyer Island (probably from Fort Wilderness), looking toward the Indian Village. A raft full of passengers heads back to the mainland, and a canoe returns to the dock, having survived their perilous journey. 

Those teepees are pretty impressive, probably at least 15 feet tall. How many buffalo hides were needed for a single structure? We're so used to seeing them in endless movies and TV shows that it's easy to not notice how cool they are. Notice the birch bark-sheathed "Wigwasagamig" in the distance to our left.

How about another zoom, at no additional cost? As you know, I like to do some vintage people-watching. Can you see the little girl who seems to be looking right at us?! It's like "Where's Waldo", only less annoying.


Nanook said...


"... in spite of the lack of color." Exactly. Who needs color, when monochrome will do just fine. Heck - I'm watching a B&W movie right now. (On the other hand, give me some good-looking Kodachrome, or a Technicolor IB print...)

Thanks Major, for these fine aerial views of all the action on the Rivers of America.

Anonymous said...

It’s easy to forget how close the train tracks were to the Indian Village. Looks like anyone nearby could just hop right on in that second photo!

Pegleg Pete said...

I love that you can see just how close the train passed to the Indian Village in that second shot. And you can see the posted map of Tom Sawyer's Island also. Great photos today, Major – thanks!

K. Martinez said...

I love B&W! I love utility poles too! Amazing that Tom and Huck's Treehouse gave such wonderful views. I wonder if as the trees and foliage filled in, the views were diminished. Nice set today. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

Yes, these views - even in monochrome - are much better than anything guests can see from Tom and Huck's Treehouse today.

That second view really shows just how integrated the canoe landing and the Indian Village were. For those of us with no memory of it, it's very easy to forget just why the canoe landing is where it is or what inspired it.

Thanks for sharing this set, Major! Looking forward to the rest of the batch.

Stefano said...

I was thinking, how did an island raft get so far north on the river, are they going all the way 'round, where in heck (Huck?) is the landing, until I saw the Indians piloting the Becky Thatcher. Also noticed the young raft sharpie in a fedora, giving us "a look".

Disneyland is also wonderful in black and white, especially Frontierland; I've seen two theatrical screenings of the 1939 "Jesse James", the first time in gorgeous 3-strip Technicolor, the second in a 35mm monochrome print, and I didn't miss the colors, it still looked great and more authentic to the period.

zach said...

Yeah, black and white is the way I first saw the park in the 50's before we invented color. It looks great, don't you think?

The angle in the first shot accentuates the court jester look of the smoke stack tops.

And that looks like a vintage American flag on the aft of the Mark Twain. I never noticed that before.


Anonymous said...

Excellent views today, Major. Thank you.

Now that the treehouse is closed, these views will never be duplicated.

All the elevated vantages are being eliminated across the Park, sad.

@David Zacher, Disney has always had excellent "flag hygiene". Flags appropriate to the era or application, displayed in the correct manner, have been hallmarks from the beginning. One of the little details that endures, even in today's degradation.


Melissa said...

The Indian village always makes me think of this absolutely terrible old joke:

“Doctor, doctor, you gotta help me! Sometimes I think I'm a teepee, and sometimes I think I'm a wigwam!”

“Well, you've just got to relax; you're too tense!” (two tents)

That shot of the raft is indeed prime people-watching. If the little girl is looking at us, does that mean that we’re Waldo? I wish the ladies in matching plaid shirts leaning against the railing would turn around so that I could see if they’re twins. The one on the left seems slightly taller, but it's hard to tell with the way they're standing.

It's so weird; all of my family's snapshots from this era are in black-and-white, but I'm so used to seeing Disneyland pictures only in color

Melissa said...

Now that the treehouse is closed, these views will never be duplicated. That's why the good Lord gave us drones.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I only watch COLORIZED black and white movies. It’s the best way to see them! I remember watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”, colorized. Guess what color they made Violet’s dress? VIOLET! So clever!

Anon, people were encouraged to jump onto the train at any point!

Pegleg Pete, yeah, I love that map - I’ll bet it was thrown into a dumpster when they were finished with it. So sad.

K. Martinez, yeah, that treehouse didn’t look very tall from the shore, but once people were up in it, the views were impressive. I honestly don’t recall if I ever climbed the treehouse, though I loved Tom Sawyer Island.

Chuck, I suppose that the addition of so large rides near the river (Splash Mountain, Big Thunder) and restaurants (The Hungry Bear), along with the now-shortened river path would make for less interesting views. Who knows.

Stefano, while there were definitely two raft landings toward the southern end of the island, I am pretty sure there was another one - not used for as long - right near the entrance to Fort Wilderness. But that is a good observation, the raft does seem awfully far north. I’ve never seen (or even heard of) a 1939 “Jesse James” movie, now I have to read all about it on Wikipedia!

David Zacher, sometimes it almost does seem as if the world was black and white in the old days. That’s why it can be so amazing to see a Kodachrome view of, say, the 1939 World’s Fair, when it was usually seen in monochrome. As for the flag, the star pattern does look different from the familiar 48-star version.

JG, I suppose the treehouse was too dangerous? Or something? That being said, people do seem to be unable to use common sense these days, so maybe it’s a case of “better safe than sorry”.

Melissa, that joke must go back to the Cambrian era - trilobites would tell it to each other! I’m always amazed at how your eyes go instantly to twins, or twin-like pairs. It’s like a super power. “Family snapshots”, you say?? I don’t suppose you’d want to share any of them on GDB…?

Melissa II, now I want to take a time machine back to 1950’s Disneyland, AND bring a drone with me.


In the development of Bear County artwork and blueprints show the canoes being renamed The Davey Crockett Trapper Canoes and were themed with French Northwest beaver trappers elements - the actual landing was giving a french name . I guess these was too expensive and they re-opened as Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes.

I understsnd the Disneyland canoes are not long for this world.

Daveland said...

Best looking telephone poles! We should do a series on them!

Anonymous said...

@Major, the ladder "tube" inside the treehouse trunk was pretty tight and also convoluted. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the reason for the treehouse closure was worry about one of today's "jumbo-sized" guests getting stuck in it.