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We Build With Logs

The entrance to Frontierland was hand-crafted from 700 pine logs
"Nous bâtissons avec bûche," one of the French-Canadian craftsmen might say--We build with logs. A crew of hewers were brought to Southern California in order to build the Frontierland entrance using traditional methods and only hand tools. The hewers used adzes, two-handled saws, and axes to shape the logs.

700 twelve-foot Ponderosa pine logs were used to create four blockhouses, a working pair of log gates, a palisade between the blockhouses, and a shed roof cabin to be used as a trading post. A passageway to Fantasyland was opened later, with a gate held open by a rock.

The stockade entrance was a relatively late design decision. (© Disney)

Although much of Frontierland is themed circa 1870, log forts are more typical of the 1700s, which the first guide book, The Story of Disneyland, proudly admits. Examples exist in Vermont and Northern Pennsylvania, particularly. Stands of straight-trunked trees were simply not available in large regions of the land west of the Mississippi settled in the latter 19th century. Forts in the southwest, such as the Alamo where Davy Crockett fought and died, were more typically made of adobe (clay mud). Encampments such as Fort Reno, Wyoming, were not enclosed. The hand-hewn Frontierland entrance most closely resembles the restored Fort Clatsop, near Astoria, Oregon, where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-06.

(Photo by Delmar Watson)
The design of a basic log building was well-known, thanks to the children's building set known as Lincoln Logs, invented in 1916 by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, John. Each log is notched to join other logs at right angles.

In addition to the stockade entrance, the crew installed a rustic trellis supported by a set of sixty burlwood posts that Walt Disney had bought personally in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They fashioned a wooden flagpole, built peeled log railings, and made a set of split-log benches.

In 1956, the same crew built Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island.
Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen, stars of the Davy Crockett series, "helped" build the stockade.
Burlwood posts and split log benches


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