Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Frontierland, May 1966

It's time for two photos from May of 1966! This first one is kind of weird, with Cascade Peak looking gloomy and abandoned because the waterfalls have been shut off. Was the pump not working? Were they doing maintenance work on the peak itself? Was this somehow related to construction going on in nearby New Orleans Square? As usual I have no answers for you. But I do have a bowl of hard candy, and each one of you gets a piece.

In spite of the lack of water, it's kind of neat to see Cascade Peak like this. Notice the tunnel in which the Mine Train tracks passed beneath the falls.

It sure does seem like the Columbia needs to be placed into dry dock a LOT. Maybe if they'd built it out of vinyl like I suggested, they wouldn't have to deal with things like wood rot. You can see an arching bridge leading from the ground to the deck, though it's pretty clear that this is for Disney CMs and not mere mortals. 

Say hello to Bertha Mae!


K. Martinez said...

The pic of a dry Cascade Peak is pretty cool. I don't think I've ever seen a pic of it in that condition. I also like how unnatural the rock work looks when the water is turned off. Disneyland is certainly a place of illusion. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...


I think the use of vinyl would've solved both problems as seen in today's post. It may not be the 'miracle mineral' - as that belongs to asbestos - but we know from watching The Graduate that "plastics" solves almost all of man's ills. The "frontier" was just a bit behind the times.

Thanks, Major.


In the Sailing Ship Coumbia’s defense; it’s not that she is drydocked for repairs - she always only operated on holidays and busy seasons as needed. But at the same same time she was still an attraction a good percentage of her drydock duty and became “Sailingship Columbia Below Decks” and she was available for guests to explore when she wasn’t “underway”

Melissa said...

Mmm, candy - root beer barrel for me!

Both of these pictures have just beautiful composition.

Chuck said...

That first photo documents the Army Corps of Engineers' dress rehearsal for their shutdown of the American Falls at Niagara three years later.

Minor point of order, but Columbia isn't dry-docked in this photo - she's just docked. Dry-docking would entail closing (or maybe raising, not sure of the specifics at Fowler's Harbor) a gate across the mouth of the inlet and pumping out all of the water. Note that she's not sporting a flag astern while she's not underway.

Melissa, it may just be me, but I've always preferred the flavor of root beer to root beer barrel. Too much tannin for my taste, and I hate picking splinters out of my teeth.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Not fair, yuck, I got butterscotch.

It's safe to say Walt had the coolest, boat docks, car barns, roundhouses, etc. It really started out as a way for him to have the most extreme full size toys any rich adult could dream of. It just so happened to also make a boatload of money in return so win win.

Stefano said...

Speaking of candy, Cascade Peak has a big chocolate M&M affixed, to the lower left of the top falls. What with cooler September here, it reminds me of the bells regulating kids in Jr. High.

Thanks Major, dry or wet this is a favorite mountain range.

JC Shannon said...

Great pics today, but Stefano makes a good point. What is that round thing to the left of the falls? I love any photo of the Columbia. I will take a Ludens Wild Cherry cough drop please. They were my grandma's favorite. Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I’m not sure I have another photo of Cascade Peak in its prime (so to speak) with the falls turned off; sadly later on they were turned off all the time.

Nanook, I beg to differ, I have invested millions of dollars in vinyl mines in South America. There has been no return on my investment yet, but… any day now!

Mike Cozart, I didn’t know that they ran the Columbia on only the busiest days way back then… I thought that was a more recent development. Meanwhile, I’ve still never been “below decks”!

Melissa, I would go for a red piece of candy in the hopes that it is cherry flavored - that artificial cherry is my favorite!

Chuck, what about when the Army Corps of Engineers replaced the water in Niagara Falls with Yoo-Hoo brand chocolate drink? And yes, I mistakenly said “dry docked” when I meant “wet docked”. ;-)

Alonzo, just be grateful you didn’t get one of the banana-flavored candies. Those things double as emetics. I’m sure Walt liked having money just like anyone (for the sense of security, if nothing else), but I really do think that he liked being able to put profits back into Disneyland to make it better than ever.

Stefano, ha ha, I see the M&M! Why they would put a giant chocolate M&M on the mountain is anyone’s guess. It’s funny how an unnatural shape sticks out like a sore thumb.

Jonathan, I honestly have no clue what that thing is. I was going to suggest that it was a speaker (broadcasting bird calls or other sounds), but why would they place a speaker so close to water? Luden’s Wild Cherry cough drops were great (as were Smith Bros.). I still sometimes buy packs of cherry Lifesavers when I need my artificial cherry fix.

Anonymous said...

"...reaches in the candy jar, pulls out Jolly Rancher Watermelon"... SCORE!

Most of my best visits to the Columbia were at the dock. I didn't feel torn between the below-deck exhibits and the tour of the river, and you could stay on as long as you wanted.

The only thing I can think of that resembles that round item on the peak is a fire-sprinkler water gong. This is a fire bell that is triggered by water flow in a fire-sprinkler line. I seem to recall that Cascade Peak was wood-framed (which led to it's eventual demise), and maybe fire-sprinklering was required for that reason? I'm not really up on the fire code requirements for artificial mountains, whether steel- or wood-framed, but I have seen similar items used on large wood-framed buildings.

Otherwise, I got nothing.

Thanks for the pics, and the sweets, Major.

Matthew said...

@JG You are correct that it had a wood-frame on the inside and according to one Imagineer, it was nothing but wood rot on the inside and were told it was so unsafe inside that they should no longer enter it and it could not be salvaged. According to him, The only thing that was holding it together was the concrete that connected it. Also, you are correct that it was a fire bell. The tree next to it would eventually grow to "nearly" cover it.

Three quick items of note (and this time it will not be a call to Imagineers everywhere to build more waterfalls); first, is the tunnel called out near the tracks was one of several access points to getting into Cascade Peak in order to access the water pumps. Big machines and were quite interesting to see and hear work.

Second, you also needed to access the inside to install and repair the Big Horn sheep that once were on Cascade Peak. I never saw these; however, it was either here at Gorillas, Daveland, or Stuff From the Park, where I saw the first photographic evidence of the sheep! I was stunned as I always saw them on the Sam McKim's fun map but never in person. I almost thought they "narrative license" in the drawing.

Third, @Mike Cozart is correct that you could access below decks when the Columbia was at Fowler's Harbor. You can see a green and yellow gangway leading to the Columbia in the photo and what appears to be some people walking on board.

Finally, I have no idea what the two poles, ladders, are coming off the back of the S.S. Columbia are. Never seen those before.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

PS- I would like Horehound please.

Nanook said...

@ JG-
You are so correct - that is exactly what that round "M&M" is. If you zoom-in, you can see the horizontal line along with the vertical 'slats', in the casting. Lookie HERE.

@ Matthew-
Thanks for all the info-! Your DL knowledge seems to know no bounds.

Anonymous said...

@Matthew and Nanook, thanks for the confirmation.

I've designed several buildings where these were required components. Usually painted bright red, required to be in prominent visual locations and signed to denote their function and to call the FD when ringing. They are powered by little rotors in the water line, when flow occurs due to a released head, the rotor makes the hammer hit the bell, very low-tech in this day of heat and smoke detection, electronic notification and automated telephone/internet calls to Fire Departments. At my last visit to this corner of the building code, these gongs were required even though electronic notification (heat and ion (smoke) detection and electronic speakers) were also provided. The low-tech nature ensures that some warning is provided even in event of power outage and simultaneous battery failures in the electronic systems.

I have read that Disney had a good relationship with the local building department, and there have been some significant revisions and clarifications to codes based on studies done to support theme park ride designs. Codes are rigorous documents by nature and some flexible interpretation is needed to make buildings like Pirates and Haunted Mansion possible at all. We have seen some modifications to familiar features like the Matterhorn, Alice and Casey Jones to accommodate new interpretations of emergency exiting, etc.

Fascinating stuff. Thanks everyone.


Matthew said...

@Nanook. Thank you. What a wonderful compliment! But, I must confess that most of my detailed knowledge is confined to Adventureland and Frontierland where I was trained, was a trainer and working lead. I got to do many wonderful things while working with the Disney University too which took me to other Divisions within the company... but I know just a little about a lot.

Always your pal!

PS - Great photo of the fire bell! Great too how they painted it to look like rock.

PSS - I also got to crawl up into Cascade Peak one morning to see where those Big Horn Sheep were once located. Pretty great view of Frontierland, Tom Sawyers Island, and New Orleans Square. I only wish we had phones with cameras in them back then... of what pictures I would have took (sigh).

Nanook said...

@ Matthew-

And what's wrong with having "... knowledge confined to Adventureland and Frontierland"-? Listen - it's only the braggadocio's and those full of themselves who 'claim' to "know it all". Each one of us can only know so much, and we should never pooh-pooh that gift, such as it is.

Clearly, there is a small but devoted following, who can't get enough of the behind-the-scenes 'goings-on' at Disneyland in its formative years - and GDB is certainly one such place. I'm happy that you've chosen to share your knowledge here - no matter how "restricted" it may be. All of your contributions are most-welcome and quite fascinating. Carry on, sir-!

Matthew said...

@Nanook! :D Thank you.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, are you saying you’d rather have a watermelon Jolly Rancher over a cherry one? What kind of crazy mixed up world are we living in? ;-) I’m sure the below-decks displays are great (I’ve seen photos), but how could I pick them over a tour of the river? Then again, after the recent changes, the below-decks might be more appealing! A “water gong”, that’s a new one on me. It does look like one of those bells though.

Matthew, wow, amazing, what a strange place to put a fire bell! You’d think there would be 1000 places to put one that would be less conspicuous. I suppose the sound would carry far from up there, however. As for the waterfalls, I would imagine that they eat a ton of electricity - but the results are so pleasing, it’s worth the cost! I’ve always wondered if that cost is one of the reasons Schweitzer Falls is so anemic these days. I’m sure Daveland has had photos of the bighorn sheep, but I once had a pair of photos that actually showed one sheep moving from place to place, which was pretty fun.

Nanook, the one on Cascade Peak was probably not that different, even though the New York example was probably from 100 years ago.

JG, interesting that the low-tech system is still implemented all these years later. Thank goodness there were never any major fires in Disneyland (that I know of, anyway), but it is still good to know that they had a system in place; an amusement park fire could be a disaster on the level of one of those old sweatshop fires in New York City.

Matthew, my friend Mr. X has told me that when he was a cast member, he would take his lunch breaks by taking a trail up to a point in Nature’s Wonderland - at the moment I am unclear as to where he went exactly. He said he was very careful to not be seen by guests, and he enjoyed the spectacular views of Frontierland. What an experience that must have been!

Nanook and Matthew, I will take as much of that Disneyland minutiae as I can get!

Melissa said...

Wow, I've learned so much from today's comments!
And I love that artificial cherry, too - I keep a dish of sugar-free cherry cough drops on my night stand. I have to keep making sure the cat doesn't get at them.