Skip to main content

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


Popular posts from this blog

Bruce Bushman, Disney Legend

Original imagineer Bruce Bushman has not been recognized by the Walt Disney Company as a "Legend," and that's an omission—he had a tremendous influence on the design of Disneyland.

Bruce was born in New Jersey on April 20, 1911, the son of film star Francis X. Bushman and his first wife, Josephine Fladune. He and his brothers and sisters were raised in Baltimore by their mother. Josephine moved to Santa Monica, California in the late 1920s and Bruce followed around 1931. He attended UCLA and the Chouinard Art Institute and made his living as an artist before joining Walt Disney Productions in the late 1930s.

Bruce was a layout artist on Pinocchio (1940), co-art directed the Nutcracker Suite sequence in Fantasia (1940), and laid out many short cartoons. His first screen credit was on the short First Aiders (1944), and he contributed to the classic short Pigs is Pigs (1954).

Bushman became a sketch artist for the live action film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in late 1953, …

Casey, Jr. Thinks He Can

"I think I can... I think I can..." The Little Engine That Could is one of the most popular children's stories of all time. The version published in 1930 as the work of Watty Piper (a pseudonym for publisher Arnold Monk) retold an older tale emphasizing the value of positive thinking. The "Story of the Engine That Thought It Could" appeared in the New York Tribune on April 8, 1906, as part of a sermon by Reverend Charles Wing.

When Disney's artists made a film version of Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl's 1939 story, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, details of the train that transported the circus from venue to venue needed inventing. Disney historian Jim Korkis wrote about the original book in 2004, and made no mention of an anthropomorphized locomotive. For the film, the undersized engine pulling cars full of elephants and other wild animals took on characteristics of the famous Little Engine That Could.

For the engine's name, Joe Grant and other artists…

Tiki Bars and Adventureland

Adventureland, squeezed into the plan for Disneyland at the last minute, so to speak, was largely the work of art director Harper Goff. Focused on his river ride, he created a little outpost of civilization at the jungle's edge without worrying which continent he was representing.

To reproduce the ambiance of the third world--bustling trading towns from to Leticia to Timbuktu--Goff led with exotic merchandise and used a lot of thatch. The river ride was inspired by the film The African Queen (1951), set in the Belgian Congo in Equatorial Africa, but that continent's rich design history was not yet in vogue. Goff's simple market street of one and two-story shops has been extensively remodeled over the years, partly to include more African art in the mix.

Because the theme was not geographically-specific, decorating Goff's mix of indigenous and colonial architecture was challenging. Luckily for him, interest the Pacific Islands was at a peak in the United States followin…