Thursday, August 08, 2019

Frontierland 1977

It's time for another selection of photos, courtesy of our Mysterious Benefactor. We are still exploring the park circa 1977.

First up is this nice shot of the Fort Wilderness cemetery, where unfortunate pioneers died of things like cholera, or the pox, or ennui. If you look to the extreme right, in the shadows, you can see an open grave where an UNKNOWN GUEST could pose for a fun photo. (See GDB pal Steve Stuart in that grave HERE!).

In the original photo you can zoom in and read most of the names on the headstones, but it doesn't work so well with a reduced jpeg. Oh well.

The hundreds of scans that the Mysterious Benefactor shared with me (and you) were taken for possible publicity uses, so it's probably no surprise that there are a LOT of pictures of the Mark Twain and the Columbia. I sometimes experience a feeling of burnout when writing about photos of those classic attractions, but I just have to deal with it!

Howdy, Cap'n! The pilot (who has flown steamboats for years) waves to us, either as a greeting, or as a warning that we are about to be "moosed". Look at all those genuine 1977 people. I think I see Alex Trebek.

Moments later, a second picture was taken. I'm noticing a spotlight up above, and assume that when the Twain took nighttime trips around the river, a CM was up there pointing the light at various features? Or could it be aimed from within the pilot house?

You'll be seeing a lot more of our friendly pilot in future installments - he loved posing for pictures, the big ham.

Thanks as always  to the Mysterious Benefactor.


Nanook said...


Gee - in 1977 Alex Trebek would be hosting Double Dare - seven years before hosting the revival of Jeopardy!. And I was still recovering from my many years of 'relaxation' "below ground". Ahhh... it was lovely.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I see Alex Trebek up there on the top deck! And Nanook, I was watching Double Dare on the Buzzr Channel for a while, but they removed it from their line up about a year ago.

Major, I believe that is Captain Mike O'Brien in both of the Mark Twain photos. He had already been working at the park for 17 years at the time these photos were taken.

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh, and let us not forget, that Alex Trebek co-hosted the "Disneyland's Light Magic" television special, back in 1997, along with Tawny Little Schneider. It's my all-time my favorite Disneyland TV special. Yeah, right!


TOKYO MAGIC is correct! That is definitely Captain Mike O’brien!! I got to meet him back in the mid 1990’s ....he was with his wife and I had to ask if it was him. At that time he had had a stroke several years before and it was very difficult for him to speak but he lit up with such a smile and became very animated . I guess he was a very big character full of personality! After our meeting his wife came back and told me how I had really made his day recognizing him and hearing my fascination with Disneyland etc. I think during the late 70’s and early 80’s you could find Captain Mike in brochures, guides , Disney News and even tv commercials like “Disneyland is Your Land” what a great period of time it was.

Chuck said...

I don't remember seeing the Unknown Guest grave in person, although I know I must have...unless we never went out back and always took the escape tunnel from the fort. It seems odd that they would put it behind a railing, but by the lack of vegetation around it I see that folks got the general idea that it was OK to cross that one - and only that one - handrail. Note that there is another thin barrier between the guest grave and the rest of them.

I love your story about meeting Mike O'Brien, Mike!

Andrew said...

When I finally see the Mark Twain in person, it's going to be weird after seeing so many pictures of it for years!

Stu29573 said...

I thought you said people were killed by emu. This confused me, since, generally speaking, the most dangerous birds I knew of on TSI were the Evil Penguins. Ah how I remember the stories of how they would surround people and beat them with their tiny canes. Many an ankle was bruised in those attacks! Fun Fact #675.3: The Evil Penguin gangs were made up of cast off penguins from Mary Poppins. Now you know!

Stefano said...

Oh Major, and MB, I like the timing of today's post. This first Disneyland cemetery with its gallows humor prefigured the Haunted Mansion; fifty years ago today, park employees were test riding the Mansion, with the public allowed in at last on August 9th. The TSI Unknown Guest is a descendant (decedent?) of the 1,000th Mansion volunteer.

Stefano said...

Just realized it's the other way around: the 1,000th descends from the Unknown Guest.

JG said...

Great photo of the TSI graveyard! I remember the shallow grave, but don't think I laid down in it.

Stefano, thanks for the HM reminder. I think you are right about the source of the 1000th ghost.

We should check the Long-Forgotten blog to see if he has a post today, and to catch up on the article he has about the graveyards of Disneyland, including this one on TSI.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, even Alex Trebek needs a vacation, and what better way to relax than a day at Disneyland, circa 1977?

TokyoMagic!, see? I wasn’t kidding. I remember years ago I joked with a friend about a cable channel that would just be games shows (new and old). I also joked about a channel that just showed old commercials! And we can see in a future installment that the Skipper is indeed named “Mike” (thanks to his badge), so it must be Mike O’Brien!

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure that TV special was as watchable and well-done as other Disney TV specials were back then.

Mike Cozart, very cool! I’ve already written two additional blog posts that feature Mike O’Brien heavily - maybe I’ll have to go in and update them. Let’s see, will I do it, or will I be lazy? Wait and see! He definitely looks like a character - by that I mean a big personality who loves to perform for people. Thanks for all the info about Mike O’Brien!

Chuck, yeah, I never went out to where that graveyard was, and only became aware of its existence through photos many years later. I didn’t really think about the railing issue, but you’re right, you’d think that the “Unknown Guest” grave would have been more readily accessible. I wonder how many people didn’t pose for their funny photo because they didn’t want to cross that railing and get in trouble??

Penna. Andrew, I think it will be more like seeing an old friend!

Stu29573, listen, I would never joke about being killed by an emu; those things have deadly claws! Now that you have brought it up, I wonder what the most dangerous bird is (to humans). Ostriches have pretty badass claws too. And there’s the evil cassowary. I NEED TO KNOW!

Stefano, gosh, imagine being among the first to ride through the Haunted Mansion! Especially since you would have seen the original Hatbox Ghost, as well as some other effects that were only there temporarily (I learned about those on the “Long-Forgotten” blog). Sorry, Disney, but I would have broken the rules and taken some flash photos.

Stefano, yes, I guess that makes more sense.

JG, there’s probably bugs and worms in that grave. No thank you. And yes, I should check out the aforementioned Long-Forgotten blog today!

Melissa said...

"...where unfortunate pioneers died of things like cholera, or the pox, or ennui."

Lots of pioneers named Neville?

I absolutely love that last picture of Captain Mike posing proudly with his big paddlewheel. You can really see how much he enjoyed his work, and why not?

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, that is Captain Mike O'Brien! I worked with him in the 70s. He was quite a character and WAS the true captain of the ship for many years. He also taught me how to properly ring the bell on the Columbia to announce time in the nautical sense which I proudly remember to this day.

In earlier times he was a member of the Canadian Olympic ski team...and in the 70s lived on his own sailboat. Thanks Mike for being so kind to him in your chance encounter. I wondered what had happened to him after my departure. I will post the paddlewheel picture on a FB site dedicated to those CMs whom we have lost over the years. There is a page currently dedicated to him. KS

TokyoMagic! said...

Captain Mike O'Brien also worked the Keel Boats, Jungle Cruise and the Submarine Voyage. While working the Jungle Cruise, he skippered a boat for Walt Disney and the Prime Minister of India. Prior to working for Disney, he gave tennis lessons to Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, June Haver, Robert Stack and Kirk Douglas and was also cast as a pirate in the movie, "Anne of the Indies."

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I am very familiar with the Gashlycrumb Tinies! One of the greatest books ever. Cap’n Mike was born to play his part.

KS, I love that Cap’n Mike wasn’t just pretending to be his character - he really WAS that character! I wonder if he was ever and actor? It seems like he should have been. I learned the ship’s bells from my Navy dad, and still remember them to this day (not that I hear them used for telling time much, since my dad’s ship’s clock stopped working). Wow, a Facebook page dedicated to Captain Mike, I’ll have to look for it!

TokyoMagic!, he worked the Columbia too, and I’ll be posting photos of him on that boat pretty soon. Tennis lessons to Harold Lloyd! Aha, I see that he was an actor - I have the feeling a lot of stars don’t suffer fools gladly, so Mike must have been a likable guy.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I enjoyed today's pictures (especially Nanook's from the older post!) and all the interesting information everyone shared today! Thank you!


Anonymous said...

As one coworker put it this afternoon, he was a softee. But he also was a tyrant at the helm and expected the crew to be faithful to the role. He would have a crowd of guests assemble at Fowler's Harbor when announcing the departure of the Mark Twain or Columbia into the River. KS