Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Columbia, January 1961

Here are two photos of the Columbia from January, 1961. It's winter, California style, so the trees on Tom Sawyer Island look a little bare in places, and that milky sky casts a diffused, cool light over the scene. We can just see the end of a yellow Mine Train car 'rounding Cascade Peak as the Columbia comes toward us.

Perhaps ten seconds later, our photographer grabbed another shot, and who can blame him. The Columbia is a thing of beauty. I guess I never noticed the strings of nautical flags on the Columbia - we know that similar flags in Tomorrowland don't seem to be sending any secret messages to savvy guests, but I wonder if the flags on the sailing ship are telling us to buy more Ovaltine?

I always love to see the bighorn sheep frolicking atop Cascade Peak - they were only there about two years. And while photos of them are not common, consecutive photos showing their movement are even less common. I've created an animated gif so you can see them wiggle back and forth!


K. Martinez said...

These are really great pics of The Columbia and Frontierland landscape. Cascade Peak looks more majestic without a bunch of tall trees dwarfing it. Also love the lighting and winter look.

Love the animated gifs of bighorn sheep atop Cascade Peak. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Too, too, cool! Thanks for making that animated gif, Major. Before scrolling all the way down, I was wondering if that was one of the animated bighorn sheep up there. Apparently, there are two of them showing in one of the pics, because we can see the head of one poking out from the other side of Cascade Peak. I'm assuming that particular sheep was more visible, to the people riding on the Pack Mules.

Melissa said...

I love how the mast blends in with the bare trees in the first picture. And the reflections on the water in #2 are beautiful.

Chuck said...

Never having seen them in person, I guess I had always assumed the bighorn sheep moved on a track that took them all the way around the mountain, but this series shows that wasn't true. The sheep on "our" side of the mountain doesn't move very far between shots and changes directions. Did they just sort of meander around in one area?

The nautical flags bring to mind a question - did you drink a lot of Ovaltine growing up, TM!? That might explain why your face doesn't photograph very well.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, ha, ha! It' took me a second, but not I get it. OVAL-tine! Seriously though, we were more of a Carnation Instant Breakfast family.

I think the flags on the Columbia have the same message as the Tomorrowland flags...."Buy Canoe Cologne For Men!"

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, that should read, "but NOW I get it."

Andrew said...

That animated gif is very cool! I'm wondering how many sheep there were now - three? four?

I want to say the movements of the sheep were similar to the bear that was also once along the river.

Anonymous said...

The sheep are very cool! I'm not sure that I really knew they were ever there, much less that they moved! I love the look of the Columbia as well. However, I can't help but think the Mark Twain was a bit more realistic on the river than a huge sailing ship. That river would have to be DEEP! Plus they would have to be the greatest sailors ever born to navigate that skinny slip of water... using only wind power at that! Still, it looks great! I think it's interesting how The Magic Kingdom was going to have its own Columbia, but they opted for a second riverboat instead. (And how a Columbia would have actually made more sense there) Foxxy has a great section about that in his new book, "Boundless Realm." Highly recommended reading, by the way.

Nanook said...


These winter shots are lovely for this time of year, and remind us of the year-round beauty to be had at Disneyland.

Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Cool shots, literally. The sparse vegetation looks winter-like and kind of inviting. I see that man off to the left checking things out from the cover of the trees. Hands on hips for the proper stance when you're checking things out.
I agree with Melissa. That second pic is quite nice. The reflections in the water and the Columbia, listing slightly (not really) to port making that turn.
Have you guys ever tasted Ovaltine? I always hated it as a kid. Thankfully my parents didn't insist. Just chocolate milk please. Mom used to make us take a teaspoon of this orangey tasting goop for vitamins. She used to call it Arizona sunshine in a bottle. I can still taste that stuff.
Thanks for the animated GIF. Pretty darn cool.
Mellow post Major, thanks.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if not for Carnation Instant Breakfast, I would have starved at breakfast on school days... My mom was a firm believer in it!

DrGoat said...

Stu, thanks for reminding me of Carnation Instant Breakfast. They were good for during the day too. They still sell that stuff. Might have to try it. It was kind of like Nestles Quick . A little bit of grit left after it didn't get 100% assimilated into the milk.

JC Shannon said...

I love these photos. Major knows that it is more blessed to gif than to receive. Ovaltine is not the same today as it was when I was a boy. You know back in the Neolithic Period. It was grittier and you had to add your own sugar, cause it was supposed to be healthy. And add a lot of sugar I did. After a few tablespoons, it was pretty darn good. My semaphore is a little rusty, but I think the flags are saying "I want a Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle." Thanks Major.

MRaymond said...

I can't remember how many times I've ridden the Mine Train and I don't remember the sheep at all. You learn something new every day. My dad was a Navy man and he said the flags say "We wants the redhead"

JG said...

Wow, this is the first time I have seen the sheep in motion, Major. I think you had a post sometime back showing them as apparently static figures, but the gif is too cool for words. Thank you!

I envy those folks in the train, they are going to be hearing the Seven Sisters shortly. For that matter, I envy everyone in that picture because they are in 1960's Disneyland and will soon be having a hot cup of Ovaltine, or maybe Hills Brothers. I think I had Nestle's Quik every day of my life until I went to college. It's funny, I gave Quik to my kids, but now I prefer Swiss Miss and never cared for Ovaltine.

Andrew, thanks for the link to that video and reminding me that there is so much Disney content on YouTube. I need to explore that further.

The flags spell out the lyrics of the Boston Come All Ye, in Thurl Ravenscroft's voice.

Thanks everyone for the trip back.


Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I agree… I love big trees, but they do have a tendency to ruin the scale (or the view) in some parts of Disneyland. Like the trees that line Main Street. Glad you liked the animated GIF, it was fun to make.

TokyoMagic!, there are definitely two bighorn sheep, and I think you’re right, the other one was there for the benefit of the Pack Mule riders.

Melissa, the reflections remind me of some paintings by Anders Zorn, that guy could paint anything, but his water really looked like water.

Chuck, yeah, it looks like the sheep really did just move a little way, turn, and move back. I think their movements were triggered by a switch or electric eye or some sensor, I don’t believe that they constantly moved all day long.

TokyoMagic!, I always wondered why Ovaltine was called “Ovaltine”. What’s oval about it?

Andrew, as far as I am aware, there were only two mechanical bighorn sheep up there. If you look at the left side of the mountain, I used to think that those curved things silhouetted against the sky were horns of other sheep, but I believe that they are just some kind of plant. I’m sure the mechanism for the sheep was essentially the same as the one for the bear, and also possibly for the rhinos in the old Jungle Cruise.

Stu29573, the story goes that the bighorn sheep would startle the Pack Mules, and I assume that some of them would either go running, or maybe would try to buck their passengers off. No good at Disneyland. I don’t know if that is really true, or just a cute story. Maybe they just had a tendency to break down and they got tired of fixing them. The Columbia does not make sense, sharing a river with an old west steamboat, but it looks great anyway. I just started reading “Boundless Realm” last night!

Nanook, the SoCal climate is so mild that it is rare to see Disneyland looking so wintery!

DrGoat, I think (but am not sure) that the people on Tom Sawyer Island might be about to cross the suspension bridge. Always a fun thing to do. I’m not sure if it’s possible for the Columbia to list! It literally runs on wheels, as you have probably read. I used to like Ovaltine! I haven’t had it in forever. Maybe anything chocolatey was OK in my book. I liked Nestle’s QUIK too (especially the strawberry flavor). My mom also used to give us some gross orange stuff, it was SO incredibly sweet that I could barely get it down.

Stu29573, oh yeah, I liked Instant Breakfast too. I liked it when my mom got those boxes with several different flavors.

DrGoat, on rare occasions my mom would buy this stuff, it was basically like ice cream for making milkshakes, but wasn’t ice cream. I forget what it was called, but it was sure good to have after school! And yes, the gritty stuff in a glass of QUIK was part of the deal.

Jonathan, my brother has purchased Ovaltine from The Vermont Store catalog, and he swears it is less sweet and more like what you used to get. I have no idea, since I never buy it. I forgot that you were supposed to add your own sugar at one point. Somebody was just emailing me about some of the messages from those old decoder badges, and I was gratified to see that they weren’t just advertisements for their own products! They said things like, “EXPLORE MYSTERY ISLAND”, “RESCUE ATTEMPT FAILS”, or “FIND HIDDEN HANGAR”.

MRaymond, those sheep were not there very long, so unless you rode it between maybe 1960 and 1962, they would have been long-gone. Your dad sounds like a wise man.

JG, yeah, I did have a series of two photos showing the sheep moving, but this is the first animated GIF that I’ve made of those animals. With two photos taken from the same spot, it seemed criminal to NOT do it. I never had Ovaltine or Nestle’s QUIK hot, though they certainly advertised it plenty. Give me a frosty glass any day. If flags are supposed to sound like Thurl Ravenscroft, they need to be bigger!

Andrew said...

Major, you can compare this picture to today's shot, and here's a view from the other side of Cascade Peak.

DrGoat said...

Major, they did have a thing called Ice Milk. It was next to the ice cream. We had it once or twice when I was a kid. It was thinner than ice cream.
I miss ice cream when it came in a rectangle or square carton. You could open it up and cut a slice of that beautiful ice cream. Chocolate has always been my favorite....sometimes fudge ripple.
Nice links and pics Andrew. Keep them coming. I go to this site occasionally.
Very die-hard Disneyland fan, younger and totally obsessed. Some great videos though with a few good new construction stuff.

Major Pepperidge said...

Andrew, thank you for those links! You’d think I’d remember, but after more than 10,000 slides, some of them start to fade, memory-wise.

DrGoat, oh I sure remember ice milk. And while I never got a slice of ice cream from a square or rectangular carton, my aunt in Illinois had some brand that came in a cylindrical carton. It blew my mind when she cut off a slab with a serrated knife! But of course the lid fit right on like always and the thing took up less room in the freezer. I remembered the product that I was talking about, it was “Thick and Frosty” from Birdseye. Not sure how it was different from ice cream - maybe it was more “concentrated”. It’s been 40+ years, so I don’t know!

JG said...

Andrew, that video is amazing. I have never seen such great footage of the (very) old Park. SO many things that we have speculated about here, clear in living color!


"Lou and Sue" said...

Andrew, thanks for always doing your homework (attaching fun links)! Looks like those critters really got around.

DrGoat, thanks for that site! I'll definitely be spending more time on it later.

In Junior High and High School, quick breakfasts were for me - Carnation Instant Breakfast (chocolate); Pillsbury Space Food Sticks (chocolate, chocolate mint, caramel, peanut butter); General Mills Breakfast Squares (chocolate); and another one that I can't remember the name of - and can't find on the was like a big wafer cookie - but was supposedly nutritious. (Does anyone remember what they were called??)

Major, I have two things to say, today: Thank you! and MORE ANIMATED GIFs!!


"Lou and Sue" said...

"Pillsbury Figurines!" - that's what those wafer things were called. I just found them on the internet.

"Lou and Sue" said...

hahahaha! While searching for the breakfast food names, I stumbled on this tasty 1970s delight:

Chuck said...

Going to have to try that, Sue. Thanks for the link.