Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fowler's Harbor: Then & Now

In a little corner by the Rivers of America, you'll see this rickety-looking set of buildings that Walt originally dubbed, "Joe's Ditch." Retired Admiral Joe "Can Do" Fowler was one of those key people that made Disneyland possible. Without Fowler pushing construction crews, everyone's favorite theme park in Anaheim never would have opened on July 17, 1955. Today's first photo, from August 1955, shows the dry dock area and rickety buildings that Fowler had to cajole Walt into green lighting so that the Mark Twain (and eventually the Columbia) could have a place to be serviced. The key element for this area was that it could be drained of water while the boats were parked here, making it much easier to work on the ships, and thus the term "dry dock."

This next undated 1950's image shows that Fowler was being honored by having the buildings named after him: Fowler's Inn.

Flash forward to today, and the tribute still stands, still looking as if it could fall down at any minute.

In addition, you can find the nearby Harbour Galley stand with delicious seafood delights for sale.

Here are two vintage shots of the Columbia in dry dock at Fowler's during its construction phase:

And a recent one of the Twain being refurbished in 2010:

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more Fowler's Harbor at Disneyland photos on my Fowler's Harbor web page.


A Snow White Sanctum said...

Nice comparison photos Dave. I wonder if you've ever seen any pics of the Mark Twain or the Columbia actually in dry dock there with the water drained? I guess if such an image exists, it probably would have been taken by a cast member when guests weren't around.

Davelandweb said...

I just added two photos for you.

Connie Moreno said...

Wow this is excellent! Great photos! I never knew the Columbia was built on site!!!

JG said...

Dave, you have the best photo collection of construction shots. Very Interesting Indeed.

I have always loved Fowler's Harbor, no idea that it was the name of a real person. It has the similar feel to Rainbow Ridge, except that some of the doors were obviously usable and used. I always wanted to jump the little rope and walk right in.

How creative to put the maintenance area right out in sight, themed to suit.

The revised theming is a little heavy handed to suit me. Nothing is "that" ramshackle, it's too ToonTown. Oh well. I do think adding the food service there is a good idea, especially now with the little river walk below. Get a cold drink and slide down to admire the view by the water.

Was the old Keel Boat landing upstream of this location toward Bear Country/Indian Village or downstream back by the rafts? I have an old photo of Dad and I getting out of the Keel Boat and I can't quite make it out?


TokyoMagic! said...

Dave, I love your comparison shots and also the construction pics. When they put one of the boats in dry dock today, I believe they hang a tarp across the opening to limit the view into the harbor.

I agree with JG....I like the original buildings better than the replacements.

Wasn't the Keelboat dock located just before Fowler's Harbor? I believe it can be seen adjacent to the crane in that first construction pic.

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Those are some dynamic dry dock shots! Thanks for posting.

Thufer said...

Ditto JG's comment.

I think time has proven the Admiral correct. The harbor was needed. It's funny to me how unassuming and blatantly straight lined Walt made the 'ditch'.
Today, I feel that it adds to the charm and realism of 'HardFacts'land.

P.T. said...

Cool photos! Amazing to see how it used to look! I noticed a "Fowler's Cabin" in Splash Mountain. I wanted to take a picture of it, but had already tucked away my camera to keep it from getting wet. Have you seen it before?