Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mark Twain, June 1963

You know how it goes, homies; Sundays are very skippable days here on GDB! Proceed at your own risk. 

If I had a 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle gold piece (see below) for every Mark Twain photo in my collection, I would be a happy camper. It's probably not an exaggeration to say that I must have at LEAST 400 pictures of the plucky li'l steamboat. 

Here's that gold piece I was talking about. You know what? Why be greedy. A dozen of them would be fine. They can sell in the neighborhood of $3,000,000 each.

There she goes! Yes, the Mark Twain is a "she", for your information.


Patrick Devlin said...

Skippable?! Why I oughta...

Do the rafts ever hoist sails like the one in the background of pic #2 is anymore. Well There's a little detail for me to keep an eye out for on my next visit, or maybe do some online research for coffee drinking company.

Thank you Major, Sir!

Nanook said...


'Plucky' she be-! You just know that's the word on the tip of every tongue of each passenger as they step aboard.

And you can just spot through the leaves along the River a guest paddling-along in one of the Indian War Canoes.

Thanks, Major, Sir! (as long as we're being formal).

K. Martinez said...

The plant life along the riverbank frames the Mark Twain nicely in the first pic. Thanks, Major.

Patrick Devlin said...

And I'll second KM's affection for the riverbank vegetation; I miss it looking a little more wild like that.

Anonymous said...

Guessing from the flags and bunting that these pics were taken in late June or early July.

@Patrick Devlin. I remember the rafts having masts, but never recall seeing sails unfurled. I think in Huckleberry Finn there is a bit about the boys putting up a sail on the raft when running away from the Duke and the Dauphin.

After Steve DeGaetano's nice information dump on the drive mechanism of the Columbia, I will ask the obvious: Was the stern wheel the only power for the MT, or were there propeller thrusters also? Is the MT really steam powered or diesel-electric with the boilers only for show?


Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, I’m just sayin’… there are oddles of Mark Twain pix on this blog! Missing today’s wouldn’t hurt. I don’t believe that I have ever seen the sails unfurled - I assume that they were never meant to actually catch any breeze.

Nanook, yep, there’s a canoe - I wonder how many canoes could theoretically be on the river at the same time?

K. Martinez, I agree, those reeds and rushes help with the illusion that the river is “real”.

Patrick Devlin, what? You don’t like the cement-lined banks?

JG, the title confirms that these are from June! Huck Finn, one of my favorite books. My teacher (grade school) read some chapters out loud to the class, and let me tell you, it was pretty shocking to hear her say a certain word out loud! JG, my understanding is that the boilers are for real, the Mark Twain really is steam powered, though it uses bio-diesel for the boilers rather than coal or wood, of course.

Nanook said...

@ JG-
Yes, the stern wheel is the only form of locomotion for the Mark Twain. I don't know how the boiler is configured today, AND I know it was replaced in 1995, BUT - to extensively quote from a portion of an "E" Ticket article on The Mark Twain from the Spring, 1993 issue:

"The mechanical workings of the Mark Twain, an authentic steam powered riverboat with a diesel fired boiler, were described to us by Dave White, one of the Steam Engineers who operates the Disneyland Railroad steam locomotives and the Mark Twain on a regular basis. There are two, single cylinder "long stroke" steam engines which drive the stern wheel by means of a rod extending back from the cylinders. Each engine has a set of dual intake and exhaust valves which operate corner to corner with a "walking beam" rocker arm. Cylinder cocks vent moisture and steam out the sides, along the hull, when the Mark Twain first gets under way. Each engine is fitted with brass lubricators on the drive shaft motion, which inject oil directly into the cylinders.

Forward and reverse are controlled by a "Johnson Bar" floor lever within the "cage" or Engineer's area. The Engineer must wait for the motion of the engines to assist his throw of the lever, because changing direction against the engine's motion would require tremendous strength. Above the "Johnson Bar", within the reach of the Engineer, is a large steam valve that is opened and closed with an iron wheel the size of a plate. This is the throttle valve for the Mark Twain… with this the Engineer regulates the actual speed of the riverboat. The Mark Twain follows its guide rail beneath the water and will travel this route correctly without assistance, but the speed, especially during docking, must be controlled by the Engineer in the "cage". Also located here are fuel and steam pressure gauges.

The Mark Twain is fitted with a number of automatic devices which control such things as water levels (from a matched pair of steam-operated feedwater pumps), a "fire eye" which fires the boiler when necessary, and a periodic "blow down" of the boiler to remove any sediment which may have accumulated. Unlike locomotives, which "blow down" dramatically shooting steam sideways a great distance, the Mark Twain vents this steam quietly downward into the river. The "Queen of the River" once required four crew members… the Captain (who is responsible to watch the river ahead), the Engineer (who controls the operation of the steam engines), the deckhand (for hauling to the dock and assisting passengers in boarding) and the Fireman (who saw to the firebox and fired it when necessary). The Fireman was eliminated years ago, when the automatic devices were installed. The Mark Twain has two sets of stacks. The main stacks, forward of the boiler, vent only fumes (if any) from the firebox. Steam from the engines is exhausted from two "vent stacks" to the rear. If you see the Mark Twain puffing billows of white smoke from its "crown stacks" (as in the artwork provided over the years…) you can be certain that something is wrong on board".

It would be interesting to know how many additional changes [if any] have been incorporated into its operation since the writing of this article.

Melissa said...

I got rhythm,
I got music,
I got 400 pictures of the Mark Twain,
Who could ask for anything more?
I got canoes,
I got log rafts,
I got maybe 401 pictures of the riverboat Mark Twain,
Who could ask for anything more?
Old Man Clemens,
I don't count him.
I ain't found him
'Round my fort.
I got rivers
Full of rushes,
I got 400 pictures of the Mark Twain, more or less,
Who could ask for anything more?

Chuck said...

Coincidentally, I just finished watching an episode of The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (my wife bought me the whole series for Valentine's Day). And now this. I'll call this a Sunday evening well spent.

Nanook said...


Somewhere George & Ira are smiling-!

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, thanks for the information. Fascinating as always to see the effort involved in the design of Disneyland. No detail too small to overlook.

We can only hope that the hyperdrive controls and laser artillery are similarly reproduced in the forthcoming wookie invasion.

Major, you can tell it was a Sunday post for me, too lazy to read the headline. I was just irked about having to work on Sunday and rushed right past it.

I always appreciate what's on offer at GDB.


Melissa said...

And wearing matching babushkas.

walterworld said...

Wow, nobody said a word about the 20 Dollar, Double Eagle Gold Piece?

That's as fine a collectible as any I'd say. And they hold their value similar to Colt revolvers...from any time.

Both made passage on a Mississippi steamboat back in the old times, and that's one little part of what Frontierland was all about.

Thank you Major