Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Mark Twain, 1955

I have a Twainaganza for you today! Not that you have been clamoring for such a thing, but don't you worry, old Major P. knows best.

Let's start with this photo, taken from the bandstand that used to adorn the bank of the Rivers of America. It's from August 13, 1955, when the park was less than a month old. It's almost shocking to see how little is along the shore; those hills are bare and weedy, with only the dock to the right (and the mostly-hidden "ice house") to compete with the ornate steamboat. 

Right above the nose of the Twain is a cleft in the hills, I believe that the Stagecoaches and Conestoga Wagons used to load near shore and head back into the "wilderness". Could that white shape be the top of a Conestoga Wagon? Maybe it's just a rock!

I chose a few previously-shared photos so that we can compare the first photo to how the same shore looked later. This one is from December of 1960. With the addition of Nature's Wonderland and the improved Rainbow Ridge, it feels a lot more like a prosperous little town.

This Twainless view from 1963 gives a better look at what was going on by the shore. 

And... here's a colorful and lovely shot from July, 1966. So much going on, it's hard to beieve that it's the same area as photo #1!

From the same photographer (as the first photo) comes this shot of the Friendly Indian Village as seen from the bow of the Mark Twain. This one is dated "August 14, 1956".


Nanook said...


“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” This series of images merely proves Walt's thinking. And as for the 5th image - it not only has a sighting of a Ken-approved℗ utility pole - this one appears to have a family of transformers sitting on its cross-members-!

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

The first and last pics are my favorites. The wrought iron framing the Mark Twain in the first image is perfect.

Another nice framing in the last image with the bunting overhanging with an early open view of the Indian Village.

If only I was born ten years earlier so I could see Disneyland when it was born. Thanks, Major

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, Good eye spotting the utility pole. Disneyland and utility poles! There's just something special about it.

Upon closer inspection, it does indeed appear to have a family of transformers.

More than meets the eye...
Robots in disguise.

TokyoMagic! said...

That first pic is pretty special. It's nice to see even just a sliver of the island, before it was "Tom Sawyer Island."

My first visit to DL was in July of 1966....the same month and year as that second to last photo. I think I see myself in a stroller, parked next to the popcorn wagon, in front of the Golden Horseshoe Revue! ;-)


I love the MARK TWAIN .... but it’s cool to see the Frontierlanding clear so you get a great view of all the activity beyond.

My first Disneyland “visit” was in 1967 .... while my mom was pregnant with me. I appear - in womb - in front of the Haunted Mansion entry gate with the famous coming soon sign and one in profile in front of the Small World facade. My mom wearing a wild pattered blue maternity dress straight from LAUGH-IN. I was born in 1968 and my first terrestrial visit was in 1970.

Live the cavalcade of Twain images.

Chuck said...

If that first photo is correctly dated, I'm afraid the likelihood of that being a Conestoga wagon is pretty slim since the wagons didn't debut until three days later. Of course, that could be a shakedown cruise with a test pilot. I think it's more likely to be a crashed flying saucer, though. We'll need to chalk this one up as a UFO - an Unidentified Frontierland Object.

Mike, my younger sister's first trip to Disneyland was like yours, as a steerage passenger in 1971. For some odd reason, I remember that trip better than she does.

Anonymous said...

Although the 1955 views are interesting, the July 1966 view is the one that brings me the most joy. I like to see the park when it was hitting it's golden years. Before, things were a bit sparse. After, things were a bit crowded (and Fantasmic-y) The late 60's were just about perfect, in my opinion. I went in 1973, and it was still very nice then. Good memories!

Andrew said...

Like Ken pointed out, the photographer of the first and last shots knew what he was doing. That wrought iron framing is a classic Disneyland shot that's stuck with me for a long time.

The third picture is my favorite because it's something different. You can even see a Skyway bucket in the background. Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

I never thought about how the building up of Frontierland mirrored the building up of the real frontier.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I agree with Ken the framing on pic one couldn't have been better planned.

I hate to say it but the absence of Twain in pic 3 does give us a pretty nifty view of Rainbow Ridge.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Twain IS in picture three. They were trying out their Romulan cloaking device they stole from Desi-Lu...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the only problem with that quote is that the Imagineers now use it as an excuse to do anything, even removing an old ride and replacing it with… nothing. Walt couldn’t have known!

K. Martinez, sure, the oldies are always the best! There is an early Viewmaster image that very much resembles the first photo, and the 3D effect is pretty striking. I would have loved to see that “baby Disneyland” too!

K. Martinez, I have never seen a Transformers cartoon, and couldn’t make it through the first Michael Bay movie (even though that one is generally considered “the best one”).

TokyoMagic!, yes, I was just looking through my last full box of slides, and there is one great shot of the Mark Twain… there is nothing on the shore but weeds and plants, even on the shore of Tom Sawyer Island. And that is definitely you in the stroller, I’d recognize that white oval anywhere!

Mike Cozart, “Frontierlanding”, that’s a new one on me. I have no idea when my first visit to Disneyland would have been, but it was probably about the same time as you. Let’s see those photos! BTW, “Laugh-In” is on Amazon Prime now, I am curious to watch an episode or two. Hopefully it has been restored and isn’t grainy and faded.

Chuck, looking more closely, I think the white shape is just the chalky soil of the hill… or a UFO! Since this slide was hand-dated, I’m pretty comfortable with its accuracy. Gosh, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a pregnant woman at Disneyland. Uncomfortable?!

Stu29573, I know what you mean, as fun as it is to see Disneyland when it was relatively crude and unfinished, it was the most fun when they’d added more attractions, when the landscaping had filled in, and the whole place just looked amazing.

Andrew, I only wish the photographer of those two shots had used Kodachrome instead of whatever awful film he/she used… both of those had faded to red rather badly. I see the Skyway bucket!

Melissa, it smelled better than the real Old West!

Alonzo, it’s OK, you can like a photo without the Mark Twain in it! Heaven knows I have plenty of other photos with the steamboat. Too many?

Stu29573, I can hear that Star Trek music as the Mark Twain de-cloaked, much to the shock of Captain Picard!

JC Shannon said...

I think Stu is on to something. They may have been conducting a Philadelphia Experiment of their own. When this photo was taken, it was in New York harbor sitting next to the Eldridge. When it returned, the entire Disneyland Band was fused to the hull and had to sawed out by a bunch of tourists from Massapequa. The whole thing was covered up by Walt and the Imagineers wearing black suits. Thanks Major.

JG said...

Major, this post is a great idea, watching the growth of Frontierland as if it were the real frontier.

The first picture is excellent, and could well be a real scene from that era, even though the trees are not grown up.

I spotted Tokyo Magic in the stroller first thing. That white oval is a dead giveaway. Imagine taking a baby into a saloon?

Like many others here, my first trip to DL was also in utero, and the details are sparse. Mom said they went every year, which means wheeling me around in diapers. Parents were made of sterner stuff back then.

Sure is a lot of dynamite on Tom Sawyer's raft. An ample supply of explosives is necessary to build a nation from the wilderness, and to rest one's weary kiester on the long ride back to shore.

I wonder how long it took for Shiny Boy to take his place on the fallen log in the Friendly Village? My screen saver recently put up the image of the River taken by the MB from the village over Shiny Boy's shoulder, such a great image.

Thanks Major for searching the archives for these companion pictures. Most enjoyable.


"Lou and Sue" said...

There’s a pattern here, I think...
My first Disneyland trip was also before my birthdate. Don’t the experts say to expose your unborn to things like music, so they develop a liking for it—or something like that? Hmmm...we all love Disneyland, right?

Thanks, Major! I never tire of the Mark Twain.

Nanook said...

"Change for change's sake". I was thinking your very thought when I posted [perhaps] Walt's most-famous quote. It's amazing the number of excuses folks generate when they wish to impose change on something. Sadly, it often isn't the change itself that's the problem, but merely lack of real vision.

As it turns out, everyone has 'ideas'; they are a dime-a-dozen, and quite frankly - most of them stink. But few among us are innovators. Walt was a genius when it came to innovation. There's the difference.

K. Martinez said...

Major, I've never watched any of the Michael Bay Transformers movies, but I remember a friend of mine back in the day who had a son would watch it religiously on TV and the theme song was drummed into my head while hanging out with my friend while her son watched it at every opportunity and even sing out the theme song.


MAJOR: I should have typed Frontier Landing - that’s what Disneyland calls the dock where the Mark Twain and Columbia load and unload. It’s used still in some of the recent Mark Twain narration.

I don’t think my mom would allow those pictures to be posted .... but I’ll look into it. It ironically that “laugh in “ patterned maternity dress my moms is wearing almost matched the( vinyl??) seat padding to our kitchen/ breakfast table set probably bought around the same time. A new kitchen table replaced it in the early 80’s and the 60’s one became a art and game table for me add my sister - in the mid 80’s that was removed entirely.... but recently while visiting my mom, I found one of the chairs in a large storage space under the second floor of the house we call “the basement” even though that’s really not what it is. I guess someone out there got the table, leafs and only 3 chairs!

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen The Philadelphia Experiment. If I understand correctly, it has something to do with an aircraft carrier traveling through time, and cream cheese. Why didn’t they just leave the Disneyland Band fused to the ship? They could feed them, and the band could play. Win/win!

JG, Frontierland was so large compared to the rest of Disneyland, and it started out so scrawny and weedy that it really is amazing to watch it grow more lush and mature as the years pass. We can see that even five or seven years made a HUGE difference. Maybe they used Miracle Gro? I’m amazed how many moms from the GDB crowd went to Disneyland while “with child”. Maybe they wanted to enjoy at least one trip before actually having to deal with all of the many demands of a child (or two or three - or four in my mother’s case)? I’ve never bothered to figure out when Shiny Boy actually made his appearance on the upturned canoe, now I need to see if I can figure it out. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Lou and Sue, maybe I’m the only one who wasn’t exposed to Disneyland while in the womb! I know that experts claim that exposing a fetus to Mozart is supposed to be helpful, but I don’t know if the same applies to exposing them to Space Mountain!

Nanook, I think it really might be Walt’s most famous quote, now that I think about it. Maybe the “…it all started with a mouse” is up there too. The problem with the “Disneyland will never be completed” thing is that they can use it as an excuse to do anything they want. You are right, most people’s ideas stink. I’m glad all of MINE are brilliant!

K. Martinez, I was stunned when my nephew, a die-hard Star Wars nut, watched the Michael Bay “Transformers” movies. He said they were “Better than Star Wars!”. He was six years old, but still… blasphemy!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, doing a quick survey, I see slides dated "March 1958" with no Shiny Boy, and he's there on slides dated "May 1958". So... somewhere in that two months is when he stepped on to that canoe.

Chuck said...

Major, you are close on your plot synopsis of The Philadelphia Experiment, although it was actually a destroyer...and a Philly cheese steak sandwich.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be a pregnant woman, much less a pregnant woman at Disneyland. My hat is off to you ladies - particularly my wife and my mother (those are two separate people).

Also - although I've known about my mother being pregnant on The Trip That Changed My Life since I was a kid, I never noticed the "baby bump" in pictures until today (see here and here). I find it funny I spend so much time poring over minute details in vintage pictures and yet still can miss the obvious.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, you commented:
...but I don’t know if the same applies to exposing them to Space Mountain!
haha! I rode the Matterhorn on my "first trip" because my mom didn't know I was "also in attendance."

Chuck, those past-GDB pictures of you, as a little boy, are absolutely adorable. I love when you and the other Jr. Gorillas share your pictures from the past!