Thursday, May 21, 2020

View From The Mark Twain, 1950's

I have a lot of photos of the Mark Twain, and probably as many photos taken from the Mark Twain. But I somehow get a kick out of today's examples, with the silhouetted heads in the foreground. It gives it a "you are there" feeling! If only they were stereo slides. 

Looking at the busy steamboat landing, it almost feels like we're really arriving after a long trip. Kind of like the Queen Mary arriving in New York harbor back in the 30's. Notice the large bales of cotton;  I wonder if there was a pre-recorded spiel on the Mark Twain back in the 50's? In later years the narrator reminds us that in the South, "Cotton is king".

I realize that this photo should have been posted first if I wanted to share the pix in the order in which they were taken, but it's not quite as nice as the first one. Still fun though!

For Sue, here's a closeup of the Mark Twain ticket that the woman is holding!


Nanook said...

Nice. I'm looking for the Gonzalez Trio in the background...

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

All those people waiting for the boat, and the cotton, make me think of ”Waiting for the Robert E. Lee.”

(For some reason blogspot isn’t accepting my html for a link to a fun video of the song, but the URL is

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, in the 2nd picture, just curious if you can identify the brochure(?) the lady on the right is holding (without you going to a lot of trouble). It always amazes me how you can usually identify most of the brochures, etc.

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, I love that song! It was used in DL's and WDW's "America On Parade" back in 1975/'76 Also, did you see the possible set of twins in the double stroller? (Left hand side of the second pic.)


To my understanding , the Mark Twain featured recorded “on board” music but used live narration until about 1968. The Frontier Landing featured a actual mechanical orchestrium to entertain passengers. When disney began selling off its massive collection or mechanical music boxes and band organs Jack Wagner had the Mark Twain orchestrium recorded and is still used at the park today. ( it also was used for a time in the 90’s inside the Golden Horseshoe.

The original Mark Twain “ on board “ music was somewhat slow and sad sounding and was replaced in the mid 70’s with new music first recorded for the Richard F Irvine Riverboat that began service in 1973. Disneyland used only 3 tracks from the WDW riverboat recorded music , but Jack Wagoner bookended the three with 2 recordings by Ward Kimball’s Fire House 5 Dixieland Jazz Band. This music was used into the early 2000’s.

Today Disneyland’s original 1960’s onboard music can be heard on the Mark Twain at Disneyland Paris ..... intentionally selected to carry on some original Walt’s Disneyland into Europe!

stu29573 said...

I can hear the guests talking now: "Someday they'll chop off a huge chunk of this beautiful river to make room for a new land inspired by an IP that Disney didn't even create, but just bought! Ah, the "Magic of Disney!'"

JC Shannon said...

Disneyland has it's own charm, even sans rides. Along with Main Street and New Orleans Square, the dock is just plain cool. Hey Stu, maybe they will put it all back. The last two franchise movies sort of keeled over and went straight to the bottom. Thanks major.

Anonymous said...

Since we were cotton farmers in the San Joaquin Valley at this time, Dad always enjoyed seeing the cotton bales on the dock. These replicas looked remarkably similar to the ones made by the industry in the modern day.

I read recently that the South financed the Civil War by pre-selling the cotton crop to European buyers, who then lost out when the North won. Apparently the cotton was tremendously valuable then.

Our domestic cotton industry has mostly been discontinued, undercut by cheaper production in China and India. Prices are now lower than when we were growing cotton in California in the 60's and 70's. Impossible to make a living as we used to do.

Great pictures of the MT, Major, and big thanks to Mike Cozart, as always, with the fascinating insider perspective.


Anonymous said...

I meant to add this, about the boarding pavilion, it is such an interesting design. I don't recall anything like it anywhere but Disneyland. Is it based on a historic model like so many other Disney buildings, or is it a one-off?


stu29573 said...

Hey JG! My wife's uncle was a cotton broker. To this day, she won't wear anything but 100% cotton. Of course, you'rr right a out it all coming from overseas now. When I was growing up in Texas, you'd see huge fields of cotton. Now...nothing.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the Gonzalez Trio is there, only in civilian clothing!

Melissa, I always assumed that “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee” was a Steven Foster song. Now I know that I was mistaken! I enjoy Michigan J. Frog’s version.

Lou and Sue, I can see that the woman is holding two items stacked on top of each other. One is a pink Mark Twain ticket. The other might be a ticket book, though it’s just a silhouette, so it’s hard to say for sure.

TokyoMagic!, didn’t they use “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee” in “America Sings”, too?

Mike Cozart, thank you (as always!) for the info. It kills me that Disneyland got rid of so many of their amazing mechanical wonders, such as the games in the Penny Arcade. And the orchestrium! I never knew that there was one in the queue for the Mark Twain. Strange that they would use sad music on board the steamboat, though maybe they were trying to evoke “relaxed Southern life”. And it’s interesting that they use the original music in Tokyo!!

stu29573, you sound like me! I always think it’s odd that some fans give as much “weight” to properties that Bob Iger purchased as they do to films and characters that were actually made by the Disney Studios. “Princess Leia should be made an official Disney princess!”. Not in my opinion, but on the other hand, who cares, ha ha.

Jonathan, I used to think it was weird that a friend of mine would go to the park with his girlfriend on a random Sunday, for a few hours, and they wouldn’t even ride any attractions. Now it doesn’t seem so crazy, though the big crowds that were materializing might have taken some of the fun out of it.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I always wondered if those cotton bales on the docks were just wooden boxes with 2 or 3 inches of cotton wrapped around them? I doubt they were actual heavy bales of the stuff. It’s amazing to learn about just how important cotton was for the South - as you said, not just for our country, but as an export to Europe. What about Pixie Stix? Those were vital!

JG, I have always assumed that the “boarding pavilion” (I like that much better than my dumb term, “queue building”!) was based on some historical design, since we know that some of the train stations were based on designs found in books.

stu29573, I like that your wife is still so loyal to cotton! “I like that dress, but it is a cotton/poly blend, so forget it!

stu29573 said...

Major, I have heard her say that many times, lol!

Melissa said...

I completely missed those doubletots! Good catch!

Nanook said...

"Passengers taking this favorite river steamer will embark on a romantic story-book cruise of our American Rivers, enjoying elegant scenery and interesting views of many historical places". Who knew that "historical places" would someday come to mean 'the edge of a galaxy'-??!!

Nanook said...

Is it possible that rather large, light brown 'object' sitting just inside the boarding pavilion - above, and just to the right of the fella with the orange shirt, is the backside of the orchestrion Mike was referring-?

Steve DeGaetano said...

I have a green version of that ticket. And a "Captain" hat badge. That's pretty much the extent of my Mark Twain collection.

I too wonder about the pavilion. I'm the opposite, Major. because of its open-air design, I tend to think it was purpose-built just for the Park, like the two *other* train stations that were far more utilitarian, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Anonymous said...

@Stu, that was true in our family too. Cotton was the fabric of choice. I used to have a cowboy-style belt buckle with a cotton logo. Just google "cotton incorporated" logo image to see it.

It was a beautiful crop to grow. The blossoms opened white in the morning, and turned pink the second day, and dropped off on the third. The plant would grow about waist-high with lovely green foliage. The field was a sea of green with pink and white dots. It smelled vaguely like okra, I know it's weird to think that, but it's what I remember. Some of my earliest memories. I don't miss farming, but I kind of miss cotton. I would grow it as an ornamental, it is that pretty.

Major, I am sure those bales are props, with a hollow core. Real ones would weigh a standard five hundred pounds (+/-) and require a forklift to move. The Disney burlap in the picture was a little more open weave than the real thing used at that time. I don't know if that was a historic look or not, nor do I have any idea what is done today.

Thanks everyone for the great posts.


Melissa said...

"Who knew that "historical places" would someday come to mean 'the edge of a galaxy'-??!!"

Well, it is "A long time ago" in a galaxy far, far away. ;)

The riverboat queue area in the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite places in the park. It's a big open-air but covered pavilion that stays nicely cool, dry, and shady even on a Florida afternoon, and it's full of big benches wide enough for two rows of guests to sit back-to-back on.

More than once when there was no crowd waiting, I've asked the CM on duty if I could just hang out and rest in there for a while, and they've always said yes. I've even stretched out on an empty bench when I needed to lie down for a minute and First Aid was too far of a hike away.

Since the Florida steamboat is in Liberty Square rather than Frontierland, in place of the cotton bales they have these old-timey shipping crates addressed to "Gracey Manor" in the Hudson Valley, s reference to the Haunted Mansion next door.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

Well, I suppose if'n you're gonna get technical, and all that. Harrumph-!

Major Pepperidge said...

stu29573, hilarious!

Melissa, I thought for sure you would have picked up on their psychic powers.

Nanook, DUDE! You know that Star Wars took place “A Long Time Ago”. If that ain’t historical, what is?

Nanook, aha! Yes, I’m sure you’re right. Good eye!

Steve DeGaetano, I’m so unorganized with my stuff that I can’t even say if I have any Mark Twain tickets, but I think that I do. And you have a “Captain” hat badge? Wow! I’d love to know what other cool stuff you have, but understand that you might not want to put that out into the world for all to read. I just like hearing about other people’s collections. You could be right about the pavilion being purpose-built; the design has that fanciful look that reminds me of the wonderful Märklin train stations from Ward Kimball’s toy collection (I have the auction catalogs). Could just be a coincidence of course.

JG, what about the charms of rayon or nylon or polyester? Nice, slippery fabrics that don’t breathe and feel funny! Granted they have made big improvements on those, today. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen a cotton field, or even one cotton plant. Did your family have to deal with pests such as the dreaded boll weevil? Yikes, 500 pounds; I think it’s safe to say that the bales were lightweight props. But they sure look good to my untrained eyes!

Melissa, you and I are on the same wavelength! I do like the two-level steamboat load/unload building in Florida - I have no idea if they still use both levels or not. I’m sure that any shady spot in Orlando is more than welcome, I hear so much about the fierce (and unpleasant?) sun bashing down on people. Nice that the CMs let you relax in the shade. I wonder when “Gracey Manor” was added to the crates you mentioned, since that seems to be a relatively recent reference?

Nanook, if we can’t be picky on this blog, where CAN we be?


Regarding the Disneyland Riverboat Landing pavilion design origin : I’ve never been able to find anything referencing and historical basis ..... it may be a Disney “original” design like most of the original 1955 frontierland structures that were really more Hollywood Western based than directly 19th Century historical base. However, the small louvered building on the dock IS based on structures used in the 1840’s and into the early 20th century its suppose to be an ICE HOUSE. Disneyland’s is naturally a smaller “ characture” Of much larger buildings. And I have a feeling the passenger shelter/pavilion’s roofline and footprint is also inspired by the same roof design of the ice house design - but left open for guests viewing and the saved cost of building a wall-less structure.

That Ice House structure I think is used as a supervisor and cast office but while it’s listed ICE HOUSE on early drawings , it was built as a structure to hide a battery transformer in 1955. I’m not sure what the battery was used for? To recharge the Mark Twain’s gimbal lights? Or as area back up power? In the 60’s it was rebuilt and doubled in size and used as office and storage.

The Riverboat Landing in Florida’s Liberty Square Is beautiful building and it is a design based on combined elements of three real structure in Colonial Williamsburg- none of which have anything to do with boats or transportation - but it works perfectly!

Another odd thing is that of course in Colonial times there were no steamboats and the first of those show up during the Federal Period ... a nice transition between Liberty Square and Frontierland. The design of Mark Twain , Admiral Joe Fowler and the are based on 1850’s style riverboats and the Richard F Irvine ( the Liberty Belle) is based on a 1860’s design of a prototype that operated out of St. Louis.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks for attaching that Mark Twain ticket.  Now that I see it, I do believe my dad has one or two rubber-cemented to one of his scrapbooks.  Seriously.

Major, you commented:  JG, what about the charms of rayon or nylon or polyester? Nice, slippery fabrics that don’t breathe and feel funny!
I do recall reading about all the benefits of the 1970's polyester leisure suits, but only recall the following:
1.  Food slips right off.
2.  Unfortunately, YOU slip right off chairs and couches.

In my search for the other "funny" things about polyester leisure suits, I found THIS.  Enjoy!

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
It's really hard to pick a "best" 'worst'; but the trophy may just have to go to #24. Wow-!

Melissa said...

Wow, Sue, that's quite the photo essay!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I think #30 'takes the cake' - and #7 wins 2nd place. Just my opinion.

Fun post today, thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

@Mike Cozart, thanks for the backstory on the pavilion. I always wondered about the little building, makes complete sense.

Sadly, the refreshment stands now in this area are more like cartoons than real buildings. Astonishingly off-kilter.

@Major, yes, we had plenty of cotton pests, although the weevil was more of a southern pest, Texas and the Deep South. We have the boll worm in California, and there were draconian laws regarding cultural practices to be followed, in order to prevent the worm from wintering over in the fields. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say, this is why organic cotton is so expensive. I'm glad this information was interesting. Very few people outside of Ag are interested in Ag topics, which is bad for the industry and for the public at large.


Connie Moreno said...

Second picture, center grassy area. GRASSY AREA. Oh my, it's not Frontier-ish looking at all. Wow, wonder when that changed?