Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Original Animation Building at Walt Disney Studios Circa 1939

The building from whence came many classic films, the animation building at the Burbank Walt Disney Studios. I do like the well landscaped grounds with wide paths. I believe Walt achieved the campus like setting he was looking for.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Souvenir Friday- Pillow Cases

Back in the 1950s, fancy pillow cases were all the rage. Many were sent home by service men and women from their basic training camps, ships, military bases and even from overseas. Other tourist locations would sell the pillow cases adorned with graphics and sometimes poems about mom, dad, sister or brother alongside pennants and other souvenirs. Here are two pillow cases from Disneyland, one featuring early artwork for Tomorrowland and the other for Frontierland. I have seen others for the other lands (and am looking to add them to my collection as well.) The pillow cases would then be slipped over pillows and displayed upon the sofa in the living room (the room used only when guests would come over.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Main Street Town Square Flag Pole

Not too many people took a picture of the large flag pole at Town Square on Main Street. Here are a couple of nice images, the first showing the setting of the flag pole. Dave- just keep a wary eye on that stroller as it may multiply years from now.

Here are the flags waving from that pole.

As an added bonus, here is a very early morning shot of the Coral Swim Club pool at the Disneyland Hotel.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Quick Post

A quick post featuring two images from The Jungle River Cruise of the sacred elephant bathing pool. It is okay to look as they all have their trunks on.

And from the same group of slides is this crowded entrance to Frontierland. Gotta love those fashions!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Disneyland Hotel Under Construction

A shot of some of the first framing for the Disneyland Hotel with Disneyland in the background. The image was probably taken in May 1955. The best source for information about the history of the Hotel is Don Ballard's Disneyland Hotel blog and his highly recommended book on the Disneyland Hotel history. If you have not purchased the book and have any interest in the history of the hotel, go to his website and buy it now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chicago Rail Fair 1948 Slides Set Number 5

The final day of slides from the Chicago Rail Fair. I will start with some of the fair buildings and scenes, and then to more Railroad equipment. The first image is of the adobe in the Santa Fe Railroad exhibit.

Here is another one of the structures in Santa Fe, the first building.

There was also stations constructed for the display. Here is a typical station along the C.& N.W.R.R. (The Chicago and Northwester Railroad) with a diesel engine display sitting on the siding.

The Pullman company was also represented at the fair. The company sponsored and built a large tower. Pullman was one of the premier railroad coach builders along with running the sleepers on many railroads.

Finally a nice over view of the fair. I still like the looks of flags flapping in the breeze.

Now on to some more equipment. This is once again dedicated to Richard from Viewliner, Ltd. Also please correct me if I make any mistakes on the equipment. The first is the observation car from the Golden Rocket. The train was to be a high speed train jointly operated by SP and Rock Island. The route would be from Chicago to Los Angeles.

A gorgeous shot of an EMD (Electromotive diesel) engine from Southern Pacific in its bright yellow livery.

And to show it was not just passenger cars, here is a nice freight car from the Burlington Route.

Also a historic combination car from the Cumberland Valley Railroad, circa 1890.

One of my favorite images is the back end of this observation car from the Milwaukee Road of their Hiawatha train set.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indianapolis 500 Race 1948

Jumping completely out of the realm of Disneyland, theme parks and Disney history to the race that was run 60 years ago...the Indianapolis 500. From the same photographer of the Chicago Rail Fair come these images of the race track and race. I have several friends who will not only watch the Indy 500 race but then also watch the Nascar race as well. As my friend said- 1100 miles of racing! Best of luck to the team you are rooting for....and Gentlemen and Ladies start your engines!




Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Walt Disney Studio Burbank California View

A nice overhead view of the Burbank Walt Disney Studio right around the time of its opening. The hills and surrounding area are quite barren and still country like. The buildings shown are Orchestra Stage and Theater. (At least that is what is written on the back.)

For those interested in the answers to yesterday's trivia- here you go:

The original investors were Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Spike Jones, Art Linkletter, John Payne and Walt Disney. Walt was approached to invest by the family lawyer Lloyd Wright, Sr.

The bowling alley consisted of 80 bowling lanes. The lanes were specifically built and installed to be the best in the world. Another interesting note is the swimming pool was built measuring 164 feet, 1 inch in length and 75 feet, 1 inch in width. The extra inch was added to allow for shrinkage and still maintain the correct length and width for international swimming competitions.

The petrified tree stump is from the Florissant Fossil Beds in Southern Colorado.

The center was sold in 1979 (March 29, 1979 to be exact.)

Currently ther site is a shopping center with the main tenant being a Home Depot. The building and signs were razed. Nothing remains of the Celcbrity Sports Center.

I hope you all enjoyed the contest and learning a little obscure part of the Disney Company.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Souvenir Friday- Celebrity Sports Center

Since moving to Denver, I have pestered friends, co-workers and even strangers who grew up in the area about the Celebrity Sports Center. In addition, I have looked hard for souvenir items, brochures and anything else. Up to now, the search had been fruitless. However, I found a nice patch for the Celebrity Sports Raceway. The raceway was one of the largest slot car tracks in the United States. The track was located in the basement below the bowling alley and featured several different scales and tracks.

Of course you may be asking why would I want Celebrity Sports center items? The center was owned and operated by the Walt Disney company and served as a testing ground and training site for many of the managers for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. For many years pictures of the building and information about the operations were included in the Walt Disney Productions annual reports. The concept was also going to be the model for part of the development of Mineral King.

While doing research on the patch, I came across a recently published magazine with a historical article on the Celebrity Sports Center. The magazine is Heritage the Magazine of the Colorado Historical Society for Autumn 2007. I have a couple extra copies of the magazine, so I have a few trivia questions to give away copies of the magazine. The first two people who send me the correct answers will receive a copy of the magazine. (Send your answers to Matterhorn1959 at I will post the answers when the contest is over.)

The first question is name three of the original investors, not including Walt Disney.
The second question is how many bowling lanes were built?
The third question is what piece of Colorado is now at Disneyland?
The fourth question is when did Walt Disney Productions sell the center?
And the final question is what is standing at the location now?

Here is a quick scan of the first page of the magazine.

For those who want to purchase the magazine, here is the link: Colorado Historical Society

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chicago Rail Fair 1948 Slides Set Number 4

More images from the Chicago Rail Fair. The first is a nice image of the Old Faithful Geyser.

Here is the land of the southwest, the Santa Fe Railroad Exhibit. I love the large Kachina statues. Once again the land marker looks familiar.

Here is an image of one of the employees attired to the theme of the display. In this case, she is working at the New Orleans section of the fair.

There were also themed restaurants located at the fair. This is from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. Eating in a railroad car is a fun way of dining. (For those in LA, I recommend a visit to Carney's on Sunset Boulevard.)

Of course the reason for the fair was railroads and the rolling stock. Here are some pictures of the engines and the equipment on display at the fairground. I dedicate this section to Viewliner and to my nephew who loves trains. The first image is of the Wabash Rogers engine which may have been the inspiration for the song "The Wabash Cannonball."

Here is a train that would figure into Disney Studio history in 7 short years, the original General. Walt used his new star Fess Parker in a classic Civil War railroad story The Great Locomotive Chase featuring this train.

The next is one of the streamline steam engines for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. I believe at this time this was part of the Cincinattan train.

A nice large Pennsylvania Central railroad electric motive engine. This engine was completed in 1942.

Finally a nice shot of a New York Central streamline passenger car. I love the hand lettered sign.

Tomorrow- souvenir Friday with a trivia contest.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chicago Rail Fair 1948 Slides Set Number 3

Continuing with my exploration of the Chicago Rail Fair I showcase more images. The first features a familiar sounding name and a familiar way of introducing a themed environment. Vacationland featured elements of the Western National Parks serviced by the Great Northern Railway, Burlington Route and Northern Pacific Route. The land recreated the scenic wonders of Yellowstone, the Pendleton Round Up and a Log Cabin. Recreations of geysers, cowboy life and log cabins re-appear in Frontierland.

The second view is a different angle for the Vitarama show. I like the "weenie" of the large tower and also the cartoon looking clocks. Both were to show up later at Disneyland in similar guises.

The third image shows the New Orleans section of the fair. It does look familiar, especially when compared to the early restaurant row in Frontierland that housed Aunt Jemima's and the Silver Banjo.

The next image is of the display exhibit building for the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. The theming of the building is nice evoking Florida in Chicago. The famous Bok Singing tower was recreated for this section.

The next set of images are from the "Wheels-A-Rolling" show. Set on a large stage on the shore of Lake Michigan, the show highlighted various trains and included little vignettes to set the time. The first image is a recreation of the driving of the Golden Spike at the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point in Utah.

The next image is the Harvey Girls section. This vignette featured the famous Harvey Girls serving food to patrons of the Fred Harvey House restaurants. When Walt and Ward visited the fair, Walt was recruited to be one of the guests served by a Harvey Girl.

The next two images show Ward's favorite parts of the pageant, the 1890s featuring bicycles and high wheelers.

And the Roaring Twenties featuring a Keystone Cop like chase.

To see a great scan of the program and for some more images, check out Chicago Railroad Fair 1949.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Close Up of Vitarama Slide for Chris

For Chris- a close up of the big head railroad engineer in front of the Vitarama show.

Chicago Rail Fair 1948 Slides Set Number 2

Continuing the exploration of the Chicago Rail Fair with more images from the exhibits and shows. The first is for the Vitarama show. A predecessor to the Cinerama movies, the Vitarama used 11 synchronized projectors to show a film in the semi round. First used at the New York World's Fair in 1939, later adopted in World War 2 for aerial gunnery training. The Vitarama show at the Rail Fair featured Eastern Railroads such as the Nickel Plate Route, B and O and Northwestern. Of course this idea would be refined and altered into a 360 degrees motion picture called Circarama for Disneyland in 1955.

The second shot is from an outdoor play. The set and setting look similar to the Golden Horseshoe Review. I like the railroad lantern as a light on the aisle.

Another nice image of Gold Gulch. This was one of the more scenic areas on the 50 acre fairground and I have more images from that area to share.

The final image is of the Union Pacific station and display. Modeled after the Los Angeles Union Station with displays about railroads in the Pacific.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicago Rail Fair 1948 Slides Set Number 1

Beginning today I am going to explore one of the sources of inspiration for Disneyland. In 1948, Walt Disney was undergoing a very stressful time in his life. The studio was running short on money, many animators were let go and complete animation films were too expensive, so the studio resorted to package films. Hazel George who was Walt's nurse had been reading about the Chicago Rail Fair to be held on the shores of Lake Michigan, sponsored by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The fair was to celebrate 100 years of the Railroads and to feature famous trains from the last century. Walt jumped at the idea, having been a life long fan of trains. Figuring his wife Lillian would not go with him, he invited Ward Kimball to go on the trip. Ward was already a famous train man, having purchased, restored and steamed up his own personal train in his back yard. Ward also jumped at the chance as he too had been reading about the fair. Most of the stories in the Walt biographies detail the trains seen by the two travelers and their experiences operating the trains, but I feel the themed areas presented by the various railroads made a lasting impression on Walt. The first image is a Haunted House in the Gold Gulch area that appears somewhat similar to the first sketches of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion as a run down house.

The second image is of the Opera House also in the Gold Gulch section. Walt would have relived the memories of vaudeville, and this was the genesis of the Main Street Cinema.

The third image is from the Rio Grande sponsored section showing a tunnel through the Rockies. This image looks very similar to the first tunnel on the Nature's Wonderland Railroad.

The final image is of the Gold Gulch with the period architecture and wide streets. It also looks a lot like the Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town.