Monday, July 30, 2018

Stagecoach & Mules, 1950's

One of the things I love about old photos of Frontierland is when we see details that are long-gone -  especially when it is the wonderful Stagecoaches. In the 1950's many small western-themed amusement parks offered the chance to ride in a stagecoach. Western Union! Butterfield Overland! Or something more generic. How many people had watched 1000 hours of TV westerns, and dreamed of the chance to experience the bumpy, dusty joys of a stagecoach? The man to the left is leaning on a shovel, I guess he was going to dig a hole or something.

In this first photo we see one of the "mud wagons", which are more square and boxy, with larger openings on the side.

Here's what the other kind of stagecoach looks like (this image was scrounged from the 'net. If it is yours, I will be happy to give you credit!). Compare and contrast the two coaches. Write a three page (single spaced) report, and be sure to use footnotes and include your references. Don't forget to incorporate the word of the day ("discotheque")!

Next is this not-great shot of the nearby pack mules. Pack Mules are ALWAYS nearby! This photographer seemed to be generally unaware of heads eclipsing large portions of his photos - a rare condition known as "head blindness". Please give generously so that we can wipe out head blindness forever! Send cash directly to me.


Nanook said...


When Frontierland really was just that. And now it's being seriously-encroached by space 'creatures'. (It's a different kind of Frontierland, I suppose).

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I think the man with the shovel was on "scooper" duty....or "dooty" duty.

Budblade said...

The early Disneyland coaches were always a little “discotheque“ to me.

Love the pictures,except for the one with the head in the way. I’ve just got to know what behind the head!

stu29573 said...

"After the stagecoach craze had died down, in the late 1800's, many were converted into discotheques for elves. They failed due to the fact that elves hate pretentious people and over priced drinks."
Of course pack mules were everywhere. They were the ninjas of the wild west. Silent, wise, slightly smelly...

Melissa said...

"while the open coaches were as roomy as the dance floor of a discotheque, the closed coaches had the more claustrophobic atmosphere of a dive bar."

All winners today, Maj!

JC Shannon said...

If I had a way to go back in time, Rainbow Ridge in the early 60s would be in my destination computer. I get all warm, fuzzy and nostalgic just looking at these scans. At seven, I was glued to our black and white tv watching anything western. In Frontierland, you could actually live it for a few hours. It's gonna be a great day for Jonathan today thanks to Major P.

Stefano said...

I bet there were folks just like we GDBers who had some initial disappointment in 1960 at the removed sights in these photos: the stagecoaches, the rockwork, the overhead trestle, the mine shaft headframe, and the waterfall just beyond. When they got a gander at the new Nature's Wonderland, all must have been forgiven. The moral is, if something is removed, be sure the replacement is even better.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it definitely seems as if today’s Imagineers feel constrained by the themes of the lands. I wonder what they’ll be like in 20 years??

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure you are right; I was trying to be funny, but as usual it went over like a lead balloon.

Budblade, it’s probably the men’s outfits with all of that leather fringe. Very disco! Behind that head is the most incredible thing, you would not believe it if I told you.

stu29573, it is true, elves are very pretentious. Always trying to be the one with the pointiest shoes; so shallow!

Melissa, that is an excellent start; only three pages (single spaced, remember) to go!

Jonathan, you could get in line at Rainbow Ridge for four attractions back in those days. The Mine Train, Stagecoaches, Conestoga Wagons, and Pack Mules. So much to do!

Stefano, I suppose you might be right, though the park was only five years old - not much time to get super attached to “classic” features. But I’ll bet there were a few die hard locals who went all the time (compared to the many thousands who do so regularly today). You aren’t kidding, The Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland was a considerable upgrade.

Anonymous said...

Judging from the last photo, the "fake rock" game has been seriously upped by the Imagineers in recent years.

Fun fact about burros. There are packs of wild burros still in the deserts. They spend their nights in a circle pattern, each burro like a spoke in a wheel, facing out toward potential predators.

The converse of this is that the other end of the burro is pointing to the center of the wheel, which results in enormous mounds of road apples in the rocky desert.

We encountered a number of these mounds while hiking in the Death Valley back country, a real puzzle until we got back and read up on the habits of burros.

Great post, Major.


JC Shannon said...

If you look to the right in photo #1, you will see a man with his hands up. He is being arrested by the new Sherrif in town. You can't see him, ('cause he'so small), but it is non other than Pint Size Pepperidge. Still only a Captain in those days, Pepperidge wasted no time in cleaning up Rainbow Ridge and earning the admiration of the good citizens of the pictuesque little town. I know this 'cause I was his deputy, Big Bad Jonathan, crime fighter and all around sweet guy.

Nanook said...


I think it more-likely that fella with the shovel was merely scouting the best locations to plant a fresh flat or two of Hollyhocks. Nothing brightens-up a stagecoach launch more than a bit of flora-!

K. Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zach said...

I have ridden both the Stage Coach and the Pack Mules and I can say, at the time, they were the Wildest ride in the Wilderness!


Steve DeGaetano said...

"By George, the thoroughbrace is broke!"

JC Shannon said...

Oops, I misspelled Sheriff. My best Roy Rodgers cap pistol for an editor!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I guess it’s a real art when it comes to creating convincing fake rocks. I’d like to hear an expert talk about how he does it! I like that there are wild burros in the desert, even if they poop a lot. It’s kind of amazing that they can find enough to subsist on in that harsh environment.

Jonathan, my motto has always been, “Shoot first, ask questions later”. It has kept me going! I didn’t like the way that guy was always walking around looking so snooty. He was up to something.

Nanook, luckily, there was plenty of fertilizer handy for those hollyhocks.

David Zacher, I am not sure I’ve ever been on a mule of any kind. I’m not so crazy about riding horses though; that being said, a trip through Nature’s Wonderland on the back of a mule sounds pretty great.

Steve DeGaetano, is that a quote from something I should recognize? Maybe Neil Armstrong said it on the moon?

Jonathan, if you hadn’t pointed it out, I would have never noticed!

Steve DeGaetano said...

It's from "Roughing It," by Mark Twain.