Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Views From the Mark Twain, October 1963

We've all seen 145,203 views of Disneyland's big river, but today's are a little different, and that makes them more fun.

Here's an interesting angle from the Mark Twain's top (or texas) deck. A few grown men eagerly lean from the rail like boys, trying to take in all of the wonders to behold. The Indian Village is nearby, with the canoes appearing to be covered up for the season (it's October, after all). The sails of the Columbia look amazingly high above the treetops. And in the distance, the shore of Frontierland, with the red foliage of the Swiss Family Treehouse clearly visible, along with a blue construction wall.

Tom Sawyer Island has a forest that one could get lost in by 1963. I think it's a little odd that they allowed some of the trees in the foreground to grow so large, partially blocking the key scene of the burning settler's cabin. The Gullywhumper has stopped in the tiny island portage, her crew probably wanted to make sure the settler was OK (he wasn't!). 

I like seeing some details on the Keelboat... the octagonal speaker on the mast, the red naugahyde cushions inside, and the controls for the motor on that pillar near the aft steps.


Nanook said...


"... Disneyland's big river". Seeing these glorious images from 'way back when', and thinking of the way things are today, only makes one long for such times even more-!

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

I'm amazed at the fact that there weren't more accidents involving the keelboats considering the visibility the skippers had. Would any of our regulars (KS? Amazon Belle? Anonymous?) who may have piloted these craft be willing to comment about their experiences?

K. Martinez said...

I miss the Mike Fink Keelboats. It was a fun ride and it added immeasurably to the bustling activity of Disneyland's Rivers of America. It reminded me a lot of the Jungle Cruise with its humorous spiel and smaller, more intimate boat size. Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

I want to be having as much fun as the guy looking into the camera! I hope he's still out there somewhere having a good time with friends.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the first one is especially nice; even though it doesn’t show anything new, it is an angle that I don’t think I’ve seen before, looking back all the way to the treehouse. After 12+ years I’ll take anything novel!

Chuck, it’s true, you’d think that “fender benders” between Keel Boats and Canoes might have happened now and then. Canoes have fenders, right? It’s as if Paul Pressler was looking for a reason to remove the ride. Hmmmm!

K. Martinez, of course now I wish I could go to the park and see the Rivers of America from the vantage point of a Keelboat, but I thought they’d always be there. Phooey.

Melissa, the guy probably had a middle-management position, and now here he was on a steamboat on a big river! Who woulda thunk it? Even though it is now 55 years later, I also hope he is out there having fun.

JC Shannon said...

Nanook, I was just thinking the same thing. I absolutely think that the ROA was perfect the way it was. My parents had as much fun as we did, plying the river on the Mark Twain and checking out all the cool scenes along the way. I have been told, more than once, that change is the only constant. But, I DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT! Thanks again to all the shutterbugs of Disneyland past, and Major P. for sharing them.

Now, let's hork one of those canoes and do a once around the island.

Anonymous said...

That is a fun view in the rear view mirror.

How wild would it be to hijack a keelboat and drive the wrong way around the river, dodging the Mark Twain head-on? Let's try it! D@mn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!!

I remember the octagonal speaker. Was it trying to mimic a drum or musical instrument?

Interesting to see the keelboat moored here, I don't recall seeing this in the "classic" river era, although there was one placed here or nearby a few years back when the burning cabin was "restored" to be Mike Fink's hideout.

Red naugahyde is my favorite, but it pains me to think of all those innocent naugas who were skinned so we could use their hydes to make cushions. Does anyone remember the little "nauga" dolls the furniture people had in the stores demonstrating the new products?

Nice to have red cushions, but all of us seasoned Disney fans know that only the yellow cushions float.

Thanks Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, I am still a little baffled as to why they didn’t make Star Wars Land its own stand-alone park. If anything will bring in the rabid crowds, it’s Star Wars. But they chose to cut into that valuable Frontierland real estate. They give with one hand, and take with the other. It would be so much fun to be allowed to canoe along the river with no supervision, and to go wherever you wanted to go!

JG, yeah, go the wrong way, or pull the canoe on shore and explore areas no accessible to mere mortals. Etcetera! I swear those octagonal speakers were used in schools for announcements, but perhaps I am wrong. I totally remember the “Nauga” dolls - people still make them, and I think there are even companies that produce them. Old ones are cool though. Examples made with sparkly Naugahyde go for a lot.

Anonymous said...

I never worked the Keel Boat, though I know a number who did (and have very fond memories of it). Would be fun to hear their stories. It certainly was something to master since the forward visibility was limited...and you operated it solo. Sorry I haven't chimed in much...I've been traveling since Thanksgiving and finally am home for the remainder of the year! (Phew!!) KS