Monday, September 28, 2009

William Kruse and The Mine Train & Mini-Trip Report

I was recently contacted by Betty B., who had an interesting story to relate to me about her father. She was also gracious enough to send some way cool photos, too. Hope you enjoy!

My dad, William Kruse, designed the locomotive that pulled the train through Rainbow Caverns, the desert, and Nature's Wonderland. He worked at a company in Chicago called Goodman Manufacturing. Goodman’s designed and manufactured mining machinery. My dad was asked to design the mancha locomotive that was to be used on the Mine Train attraction which opened in 1956. It was later used in Nature’s Wonderland and then Thunder Mountain. I know the locomotive was repaired and modified a couple of times. Williams Company bought out Goodman's but I do not know what year. The building that housed Goodman's no longer exists. Herbert Goodman who founded the company was inducted into the National Mining Museum Hall of Fame in 2004.

My father went to Disneyland just before they opened the little mine train attraction. His mancha locomotive is under the coal tender. In the picture above you can see the gentleman running it was not in the engine; he sat out on the coal tender. I must admit that I was pretty unhappy when my dad went because no other family member got to go. He did meet Walt Disney; I have a photo he took outside the Walt Disney studio which looks like a small building you would find on a corner anywhere.

He also got to walk through the desert and got to take a few pictures from the ground when the train went by. Sadly, my father passed away in 1959 when I was eleven.

Many years later, two of my sons and I went to Disneyland and they rode on Big Thunder Mountain. We feel that was the closest they or I would ever get to what their grandfather did. It was quite an experience for all of us.

I have attached some of the photos my dad took when he was at Disneyland when it opened. They are of his locomotive under the coal tender. His was on the original train when Disneyland opened.

I also sent one picture of my dad on one of his mine locomotives:

Many thanks to Betty for sharing her fantastic memories! See more Nature's Wonderland photos at my website.

Went to the park on Friday; had a fantastic time, despite some very large-sized crowds. For the first time, I got to meet Oscar Martinez, chief chef at the Carnation Cafe.

Oscar told us he’d been working at Disneyland for 53 years (started back in December 1956); he is the longest serving Disneyland cast member. However, he plans on retiring soon, but will most likely return after a short hiatus to part-time status. Oscar’s welcoming and friendly personality is typical of what you expect (and usually find) with a Disneyland cast member.

The other cool things from that day included seeing the elusive dragon from Fantasmic...and yes, he was DEFINITELY worth the wait! What a cool addition to the show.

Of course, Mickey is still the star:

And even though my vantage point was not the best, I could tell that the new Halloween Fireworks show is WAY cool—especially Jack Skellington’s dog Zero floating around the castle.

That’s it for now...more later on from my recent trip.

See more vintage and current Daveland Disneyland photos on my main website.

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PTA Transit Authority said...

Dave, We can always depend on you for great pictures and even better stories of Disneyland. And these are no exceptions. Thanks for them all.

Chris Merritt said...

What a great post! Those early mine train shots are amazing....

Major Pepperidge said...

Interesting, they used real mining locomotives, dressed up in fine Disneyland style. I always just assumed that the Imagineers had cooked them up themselves.

Anonymous said...

If anyone could get me a link to Oscar to wish him a happy retirement, I'd be most appreciative. I worked in the small kitchen with him at Hill's Brothers Coffee House in '69-70. What a wonderful person. He looks as good now as he did then.

outsidetheberm said...

Incredible shots! Thank you, Betty - and thank you, Dave.

Chiana_Chat said...

Thanks to Betty for sharing this story. It's so sad he passed on in '59... nice thing though, that he was able to have a special tour and see the train he worked on that would be enjoyed by thousands - even millions? - of riders. It think that train was/is adorable and really think they ought to have them restored and looking good, if not in use for a new Nature's Wonderland.

Oscar - we're proud of you!

Thanks to you as always Dave. :)