Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Frontierland Depot, August 1956

Disneyland Frontierland Depot vintage August 1956 photo

This image from August 1956 shows a fairly barren Frontierland Depot at Disneyland. Guests are riding in the Cattle Car, standing up (please don't tell the attorneys!). On the left-hand side of the photo is a wooden post support, also visible in this 1955 shot:

And here's what that post belongs to: The Chicken Plantation. The backside of this restaurant had more of a Mexican adobe style to it:

While the front was pure southern plantation:

Zooming in, you can see the ticket seller in the window of the Frontierland Depot:

This July 1959 shot shows the Depot in living color:

For all you signage geeks out there, here's a closeup of the sign in front:

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K. Martinez said...

The "Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad" looks to have had the feel of an authentic working railroad back then, when compared to the "theme park" railroad we have today. It would've been so cool to experience the Retlaw 1 and 2 bypass each other at the Main Street and Frontierland stations.

I would've loved to ride those original Cattle Cars standing up. If only I was born a little earlier to experience Disneyland of the 1950s. Fantastic post today. Thanks, Dave.

Fifthrider said...

As always Dave, thanks for posting things like this in such detail. I love the pics you host on the site but only your blog adds the detail that makes me notice what I'm looking at. I'm on google maps right now trying to figure out if the train station moved or the tracks moved. I seem to recall around the building of the Haunted Mansion they moved the tracks? I'm not sure. One thing's for sure, that sure looks like the same train station used back then, across the platform from the current New Orleans train station. Also, for what it's worth, zooming in on the NOS station I see a large train of cars including... boxcars?! In today's day and age? I've never seen those on the track during my lifetime.

beachgal said...

Riding standing up in the open cars was great - the air would cool and whip though my hair which felt wonderful on a warm, sunny day at the Magic Kingdom. If it was a real hot day, mom would have let us dump ice water on our heads before boarding the train. We had then our own version of basic swamp coolers atop our heads! We used to hope for a sudden lurch in the train so we could show off how steady our legs were while riding standing in those open cars. Mom and dad always sat up close in the seated cars to keep an eyeball on us! Fun photos!

Chuck said...

Fifthrider - They actually moved both the tracks and the station; the station you see across the tracks at NOS today is the same one that was in Frontierland when the Park opened.

The string of cars you're seeing on Google Maps is actually either the 400 or 500-series of open-air "holiday" passenger cars with tiered benches that face the inside of the park, which debuted in 1965 and 66. They consist of identical, rectangular cars which could easily be mistaken for boxcars from the air in a relatively low-resolution image like you get when you zoom in on Google Maps. A higher resolution image would reveal their striped awnings.

The other holiday trainset is visible at the Tomorrowland Station in the same Google Maps image. At the end of that train is car #106, the "Lilly Belle." Built as the "Grand Canyon" observation coach to bring up the rear of the original passenger train set, it was refurbished into a private parlor car and normally rides at the end of one of the holiday sets.

The original freight train is still running, although it's not visible in the north-oriented Google Maps shot. It was converted to the same seating arrangement as the holiday cars, complete with striped awnings, although a careful observer can pick out the cattle car and gondola heritage of the 200-series cars. It also is normally the only train that sports a caboose.

There is also a fourth car set in use with forward-facing, "excursion car" seating and clerestory roofs, similar to the passenger cars on the WDW Railroad.

The original passenger set was retired in 1974, stored for decades, then traded for a locomotive in the 1990's. Coaches 102-105 car be seen and ridden today at the Pacific Coast Railroad in Santa Margarita, CA. Combine #101 is on display in next to Walt's Barn at the LA Live Steamers' property in Griffith Park.

K. Martinez said...

@beachgal - That's such a cool recollection about your memories of the original cattle cars. I always wondered what it would be like to ride those. Thanks for sharing it.

Dave DeCaro said...

Chuck - Thanks for the info; I always know if I wait long enough to respond, an expert will step in!

Beachgal - As always, thanks for sharing your memories of the park. Fantastic to read a first-hand experience!