Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Frontierland, January 1961

I have two nice photos of Frontierland for you, taken on an overcast January day in 1961. 

We'll start with this view from the deck of the Columbia; it looks like our photographer stood on the shoulders of his wife (it's OK, she worked at Ringling Bros. circus) to get this perspective, above the heads and hairdos of the other passengers. The frontier is vast and mysterious.

Zooming in, we can see details such as the cofferdam over at Fowler's Harbor, along with a pump to keep out the water. You don't want the repairmen to have soggy shoes, do you? Of course not. I'm a little puzzled about the fact that we can't see any of the little shacks that we typically can see in Joe's Ditch - is the Mark Twain just blocking them all? There's also a wooden shack that seems to be on the far side of the path that leads to the tunnel to the Indian Village, was that always there? 

Keelboat alert! If you were next to me I would legally be allowed to punch your shoulder, and no judge in the land would convict me.

And here's a pretty view of the Friendly Indian Village. The teepees somehow look especially colorful here. I've never been clear on what the various doo-dads are that hang from the teepee support poles, way up high. You can see the two babies in papooses leaning against one teepee, while the boy and his dog watch us pass from our sailing ship. Notice the wooden fish (crawfish?) trap dangling in the water.



Nanook said...

I certainly hope those folks on the Columbia checked-out Skull Rock, opened the previous December. (Those lucky devils-!)

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...


Just kidding, Major... you know I truly love the Mark Twain. Thank you for this relaxing Rivers of America excursion!

JC Shannon said...

You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many photos of the Rivers of America. I read that in a fortune cookie. No one on the Columbia is smiling, I guess maybe because the weather is gloomy? Let's all sneak in to the Indian Village and spend the night. Who's with me? Thanks Major.

Chuck said...

Always loves me a picture of the drydock with the gates closed and the water removified. Still kind of amazed that that's right out in the open, on stage where everyone can see it. Not complaining, though.

It appears that that shack in the background was originally right next to the harbor, then moved back to where you see it in today's photo by February 1958. The foliage grew pretty quickly and it disappears into the greenery fairly quickly in the early '60s, so I'm not sure when it was removed, but it was definitely gone by 1969.

Chuck said...

Better link to the 1969 photo referenced above:

Andrew said...

Thanks for doing that research, Chuck.

Sue, every picture of the Mark Twain has something interesting to look at. I like that we can see the wheel through the wheelhouse door in today's image.

Stu29573 said...

This was taken after the Twain was fitted with her aft torpedo tubes, but before the Polaris Missile launcher. The Columbia folks are bummed because they only have cannon...and 50 cal anti-aircraft guns.

Fun Fact! Shiny Boy dog's official name is "Bongo the Wonder Pup."

Anonymous said...

Major, as God is my witness, when the insanity of the last four years is well and truly behind us, I'm going to find a way to visit Disneyland in the 1960s. I'll send you a postcard if I make it.

DrGoat said...

Yes, thanks for those links Chuck and Chuck. Fowler's Harbor always intrigued me right from the start. Still does I guess.
You are correct Major. Those are genuine Native American doodads. Meant to be hung up and then sold to the gullible pale tourists that come around. A bargain at twice the price.
Mark Twain and Fowler's Harbor, can't go wrong. Thank you Major. A January day in 1961. Boy oh boy. I'm ready.
I'll join ya JC. Don't forget the pemmican, and a story or two.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, they probably walked right past it! Maybe they didn’t even know it was brand new. But I’m sure they thought it was neat.

Lou and Sue, yes, my gosh, there are SO many of them. I do love the Mark Twain, but could probably do with fewer slides of it.

Jonathan, whatever you read on a fortune cookie will come true, everyone knows that. Be sure to use the lottery numbers they give you at the bottom of each message! It might have been cold on that January day, and if there was any kind of a chilly breeze, it might put a damper on smiling.

Chuck, I hope Walt was grateful that Admiral Joe Fowler recommended the addition of a dry dock for the riverboats, because they sure did use it a lot. I wonder if that coffer dam was built new every time, or if they made some sort of modular pieces that could be quickly put together when they needed it? Thank you for doing the research that I was too lazy to do! I did do a *little* research, but not as much as you. Interesting that that one building was actually moved around.

Andrew, the Mark Twain doesn’t run on wheels, silly! (Har har, I know I’m pretty funny). I am glad you find something to enjoy every time, that’s a good mind set.

Stu29573, people forget how the Cold War affected Disneyland, but we were sure the Russkies were going to invade and take over the Happiest Place on Earth! “Bongo the Wonder Pup” needs his own TV show and dog food.

Anonymous, I hope you really do get to go to Disneyland… let’s say 1962 or 1963. You can take a photo of the Haunted Mansion under construction and send that to me!

DrGoat, are you saying that there is more than one Chuck? That would explain so much, like how he gets so much research done. What’s MY excuse? I have plenty of doodads, but no Native American examples. I like to imagine driving on Route 66 back in the late 1940s, and picking up all kinds of blankets and turquoise and other treasures! Sounds like so much fun. I used to buy pemmican years ago, I guess it had berries mixed in, but as far as I could tell it was just like beef jerky.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major ;)
I think I ALSO sent you a number of Mark Twain photos for don't worry, as I love the Mark Twain. I don't think there's anything that you post too much of...

JG said...

Major, I wrote a long post and Blogger ate it.

So, here we go again.

I loved Fowler's Harbor before because it was scaled down, not as small as Rainbow Ridge, but smaller than full scale, and it was inaccessible. Now that we can walk around in it and buy food there, the mystery is gone.

Maybe the things on the tent poles are drying laundry, clean loincloths and the like?

Shiny Boy and Bongo are standing guard and watching over the papeese (plural of papoose).

Thanks Chuck for all those links, and Major, for the post.


DrGoat said...

Major, I think we all have a 2nd, maybe a 3rd. Chuck 2nd helps with the research. My 2nd is either playing with the cat or binge watching Deep Space Nine, Justified, or the Repair Shop on Netflix..

Chuck said...

I wish I could bring Chuck 2 to work. Then I wouldn't always feel so behind. Of course, if I did bring him in, they'd just double my workload.

Major, the "cofferdam" is actually a set of permanently-mounted gates that are normally open at the mouth of the drydock. Fowler's Harbor is essentially a one-sided lock. When they need to work on a boat, they pull it in, close the gates, put drayage or cribbing or whatever the term is for those wooden support blocks underneath the hull, and pump the water out.

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, you definitely sent some Mark Twain photos… I thought I’d already shared some of them. And the Mysterious Benefactor has a ton as well!!

JG, oh gosh, I’m sorry that Blogger ate your comment. Not much I can do about that, unfortunately. I didn’t know you could buy food at Fowler’s Harbor now! I wish I’d spent time there long ago, but I probably was unaware that guests were allowed to wander down near those little shacks. Whatever is hanging from those teepees is hard to discern… it looks like symbolic or religious items. No idea, though.

DrGoat, unfortunately my 2nd is always napping. No help at all!!

Chuck, wow, thanks for the info on the “cofferdam” (one word I guess). It never occurred to me that the gates would always be there, just normally “open”. Makes sense though; as I remarked, it is rare to see Fowler’s Harbor without some work being done on one of the boats. “Drayage” and “cribbing”… two words that are unfamiliar to me! Thanks again.

Melissa said...

There was a flood where my grandparents lived when my Dad was a teenager, and he took what seemed like a dozen rolls’ worth of pictures of it. Whenever we got to that part of the photo albums he’d say, “Oh, yes, it’s The Forty Poses of the Flood.” It became a running joke that whenever we took a lot of pictures of something, it would become “The Forty Poses of” whatever it was. So now we have The Forty Poses of the Mark Twain.

I’m not surprised it gets photographed a lot; it really is a magnificent sight. And it’s not like in the Magic Kingdom where you have to hike all day before you can even see it, and it’s hidden from most of the park a lot of the time. I remember getting to Disneyland and turning a corner and BOOM, there was the Mark Twain all larger than life.

Anonymous said...

Major, at some point, (not sure when, but after Splash Mountain) Fowler's Harbor buildings were remodeled and the walkways that used to be off limits were made part of the public routes.

The one walkway goes right under the bowprit of the Columbia when she is in port, it is awesome to get that close, you can almost touch it. The part along the River is sometimes pretty quiet and a good place to hide out from the crowd.

There is a pretty good snack shop (Harbor Galley) now in a building almost exactly where the moving shed is in today's pictures. The menu, oddly enough, is mostly seafood items, but the cheese soup in a bread bowl is pretty good if you can't eat lobster.


Chuck said...

After subsequent research, I am going to retract my previous statement about the gates always being there. On reflection, that was an assumption I've had for years based on how a normal drydock works (and you know what happens when you assume, only in this case I haven't affected you, just me).

The photos I am finding of the "gates" don't appear to show something that would easily close into the harbor. Since the harbor is also just a bit longer than the MT and Columbia, if the gates were always present, folded into the harbor's docksides, then they would have to move 180° or more before the boats were moved into the harbor, requiring a very visible hinge that just isn't there.

I think "cofferdam" is the right word, and it's probably only brought out on the infrequent occasions when it's needed.

Steve Degaetano, you out there tonight to give us the real scoop?

For some additional reference photos of how it looks when in place, check out the following:

1958 (Daveland)

1958 (Daveland)

Feb 2010 (Orange County Register)

Jan 2020 (dapsmagic)

Jan 2020 (dapsmagic)

Chuck said...

JG, as I was doing research earlier this evening, I stumbled on some links in a comment on a GDB post from waaaay back in 2006 to to photos of Fowler's Harbor just prior to and after the original buildings' removal as part of the Splash Mountain construction:

This is the old Harbor with trees cut just at the start of Splash Mountain construction:

And then a month later minus all buildings and hills:

Chuck said...

...aaand because why not, here's a series of pictures from last month of WDW's Rivers of America drained, with the Liberty Belle in "dry dock."

At WDW, the boat heavy-maintenance facility is offstage in the NW corner of Bay Lake. The LB was towed from the RoA past a rotating railroad bridge, through a canal on the west side of the MK, through a lock (see yellow arrow) to lower it to the level of Seven Seas Lagoon, then through SSL, across the water bridge by the Contemporary, and then up to the maintenance facility.

The LB isn't technically in a dry dock but on rails and up on land. It appears that there is a movable section of rail that allows the LB (or other boats) to be moved into a sort of "hangar" to provide protection from the elements while undergoing maintenance. It also keeps it hidden from Russian and Chinese reconnaissance satellites and maintaining security for classified payloads.

Dean Finder said...

Thanks for that info on WDW's drydock. I hadn't considered the need to lock boats from ROA to the lagoon but it makes perfect sense. I have to share the pictures with people in the canal society I'm a member of.

JG said...

Chuck, thanks for all these links. My Saturday is all planned out now.


JG said...

Chuck, thanks for the research. It looks like the “new” Fowler’s Harbor was part of the Splash Mountain development, which I surmised but didn’t know. There is an amazing photo set behind the one link showing a lot of that work.

Thank you!