Friday, December 13, 2013

Building a Mountain from Scratch

Because of a recent addition to my collection, I am revisiting the construction of the mighty Matterhorn. When looking at the finished attraction, it's hard to believe that instead of rocks and boulders, the interior is actually a maze of steel girders. It all had to start somewhere, as you can see from this shot of the miniature scale model of the attraction. Walt almost looks a little puzzled as his hand gently glides towards the top of the model. In the background of the photo you'll see reference art as well as concept art for what the finished version will look like. Interesting to note that although the Skyway is shown, the Monorail and Submarine Voyage (being built at the same time) are nowhere to be seen.

A closeup of Walt again, posing with his models; the Castle is thrown in to show the imposing scale of the Matterhorn in comparison.

With the Moonliner looming in the background, workers toil to create the framework for the "rock work" that will cover the iron girders.

The Matterhorn's "skeleton":

I have attempted to put these construction photos in chronological order by comparing the progress of the mountain from top to bottom; many of these photos are undated. It is hard to believe that four major attractions were being worked on simultaneously: The Skyway, The Matterhorn, The Monorail, and The Submarine Voyage.

A color view:

Interesting to see how things looked from Frontierland:

Almost there, as you can see by these images that were shot consecutively:

May 1959; deadlines looming!

Still, with a little creative cropping, this May 11, 1959 publicity shot was able to whet the appetite of the public.

Finally, opening day with the Nixon family:

The Matterhorn still sparkles today, whether it's peeking out from the I5 Freeway, beckoning guests to come to Disneyland:

or inside the park itself:

Oh majestic Matterhorn...may you always be part of the Disneyland experience!

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JG said...

Interesting to see how "light" the steel structure is, compared to today's requirements. There would be a lot more steel under current building codes.

I have always been fascinated with the "top-down" sequence of the exterior finishing. Does anyone know why this was done? The sequence is the complete reverse of typical high-rise construction. My assumption is that the lower areas took longer to complete, due to the roller coaster element and the top was plastered first, out-of-sequence to accelerate the schedule, but that's speculation.

Thank you, Dave for fascinating construction pictures.


Anonymous said...

Excellent assortment of photos today of such a historical year for early Disneyland. Imagine...three major attractions open in one year! KS

Darryl said...

Thanks Dave...My 3 brothers and I still remember when living up the freeway in Upland in the 60s, when we set off in the back of the station wagon for a day at Disneyland...we challenged each other on who could spot the Matterhorn first. Then someone would yell out "I see it!, I see the Matterhorn!".

- Darryl

K. Martinez said...

I like the parking space photos of the framework being worked on for the "rockwork". All in all a great set of photos today. Thanks!

Snow White Archive said...

A wonderful progression of photos. Great post Dave.