Friday, March 28, 2008

Evolution of a Train Station

In 1948, Disney released a movie titled, “So Dear To My Heart,” which features a small Victorian-styled Train Station called the Fulton Corners Station. Once the film was finished, Walt offered the Train Station set to Ward Kimball for his backyard railroad setup, The Grizzly Flats. Since the building was a set, it was somewhat flimsy, and Ward & Team spent much time making it sturdy (including adding a backside to it, since the set had none). Picture 1 from today shows the station in Ward’s Backyard, circa October 1962. This photo also features engine #1, Chloe (named after Ward’s daughter). Two more shots from this set show Engine #3, Olomana; both engines came from Oahu.

Flash forward to 1955; Walt is busy with Disneyland, and of course, being the railroad enthusiast that he is, he wants a train to circle the park. For the Frontierland Train Station, he remembers the Fulton Corners set and asks Ward if he can have it back; after the amount of time and labor that Ward put into it, his response is a firm “no” (can’t blame him!). So instead, Walt just recreates the whole darn thing, using a different paint scheme. This black and white shot shows the original location of the Frontierland Depot, which was much closer to the New Orleans Street area. Eventually, it was moved back when the New Orleans Square area was built. The slob on the left definitely has a modern sensibility about him.

Here are two color views from 1958. You can see the corner of Adventureland/Frontierland in the background, which gives you an idea of how close it was.

And here is how the Station looks today, in its present location. Sadly, it is on the other side of the tracks and we do not get to sit inside or look around this quaint looking turn of the century building. Note the removal of Western Union from the Telegram signage; and who says Disney is all about crass commercialism!

If you love this station and want one of your own, you can always dig up one of the model kits made years ago by a company called PIKO, and hunt down one of the Chloe models; Ebay is probably your best source.

To see more vintage & current Disneyland Railroad photos, visit my website.


Major Pepperidge said...

Love the photos of Ward Kimball's backyard railroad! I only wish I had been able to ride it.

At first I thought that you meant the guy on the bench was the slob. "He looks OK to me!". Then I saw the real deal, ha ha!

Are you going to show your Golden Horseshoe painting on this blog?

Unknown said...


Awesome post Dave.

I was so disappointed that I couldn't get closer to the station when I was there a few weeks ago.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Knowing a story, and seeing it unfold in photographs are two entirely seperate things. Thanks for leaving me speechless!

The Viewliner Limited said...

Absolutely stunning photographs Dave. Ward Kimball was a railroad GOD to me. This man was every kid who ever liked trains, all rolled into one "Big Kid". Awesome!!!

Brian said...

Great pics - thanks!!