Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday WOW & Ward Kimball



This shot of Casey shows you some of the testing that went on before the attraction opened. Not sure if this is the studio backlot or another location, but Casey sure does look like it’s having difficulty with that hill! It’s no wonder that it had to close down for a few weeks for some tinkering after mechanical problems on opening day. Trains are not really designed for steep inclines like this, so as you can see by this shot, a chain/pulley system had to be devised to help Casey make it up the hill. I guess you could say that Casey was a precursor to Big Thunder Mountain!

Author Gary Fillmore, who wrote the book about artist Marjorie Reed and gave me all the great info about her Disney connection, is now working on a book titled, “The Artists of Kayenta.” He sent me a photo and excerpt that he believed would be of interest to my readers:

From 1909 until the late 1930’s, the Wetherill Lodge in Kayenta, Arizona was the primary stopover for writers, geologists, archeologists, adventurers and tourists visiting Monument Valley and the ruins of Tsegi Canyon. Prominent visitors included Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Zane Grey.

Ironically, the final artist's entry in the Wetherill Lodge guest book was so small it was almost barely noticeable among the signatures. On August 23rd, 1938 a one inch by one inch sketch of a well known mouse's head was drawn by Ward Walraith Kimball, "of Walt Disney". Kimball, only twenty-six at the time, would later win an Academy Award, create the Pinnochio character Jiminy Cricket, and become known as one of "Disney's Nine Old Men". It may be for the creations by the fine artists that the lodge's guest book is so sought after by collectors, but the visual entries had started with sketches by James Swinnerton, the father of American newspaper cartooning and ended with a tiny figure that was arguably the most famous cartoon character of all time.




Many thanks to Gary for sending this along! You can read more about Gary’s project on his my website.

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more Casey Junior (both recent and vintage) photos at my website.

11 comments:

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

"WOW" Indeed! I wonder where that was taken? Neat seeing the inner workings!

The first thing that comes to mind when I saw this photo is "I think I can, I think I can..."

Awesome post, thanks Dave!

Thufer said...

Does WOW come in every language? One of the best pictures I have seen in some time of behind the scenes, pre- opening type. What a treasure. Thank you.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Ditto to Thufer. Absolutely awesome picture. Very cool Dave!

Major Pepperidge said...

I do like seeing the Casey Jr. with the tender's cover gone so that you can see what I believe are the batteries and the electric engine.

Anonymous said...

Major,

That looks like a gas engine. I see a fuel tank and a radiator.

Eric

Rob Fendler said...

*dies

What an amazing image! And the fact that they built this test track is something I've never heard of.

SamLand said...

Oh my where do you find this wonderful stuff. One of my favorite attractions. I love the fact that this was supposed to be the original "thrill" ride, the first Disney version of a rollercoaster. Was the photo from the studio backlot, Ward's backyard or on property (over by the two houses that we moved)? Incredible

Chris Merritt said...

Hiya Dave -

Most likely, this is the test track for Casey Jr. that was set up at Arrow up in Mountain View, CA. They manufactured the conveyance, along with several other early Fantasyland vehicles. What a rare shot! Does anyone else think that is Joe Fowler in the porkpie hat in the background? Seems likely to me...

Dad.. said...

Nice history and pic!! It amazes me.. the behind the scenes info you post here. Nice work

Major Pepperidge said...

I thought that Casey Jr. was run by an electric motor?? Maybe not...

Nicholas Tucker said...

I think I can, I think I can. Great photo!