Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Todd Shipyards

When I learned that there was a book called Every Kind of Shipwork: A History of Todd Shipyards Corporation, 1916-1981 (published 1981), I was hopeful that it might provide new details on the shipyards' Disneyland work. Because Google Book Search has the book set to "snippet view," I knew Disneyland was at least mentioned, but I couldn't tell the extent. After several weeks of waiting for the interlibrary loan to be fulfilled, I finally picked up the book and was disappointed at the short shrift given the Disneyland projects (you mean they did other work, too?). What I found most interesting was the Freedomland connection. Since all of this is so brief, I'll just quote it entirely (p. 186):
On the lighter side, though not really so much so as it might appear, was the Industrial Division's delivery of a job assignment which has probably exposed more people, pleasurably if unconsciously, to Todd products and worksmanship than any other in the Corporation's entire history: a share in the creation of Disneyland. When this ambitious pioneer complex of show-business Americana was undertaken at Anaheim, California, in the early fifties, the Los Angeles Division was awarded the contract to build and outfit its "fleet." This ultimately involved the historically authentic creation, working with modern materials and techniques, of the hull and sternwheel of the park's steam "flagship" Mark Twain, of the 18x5-1/2-foot gates to the graving dock in which she receives her annual overhall, of the masts and other tophamer for the 17th-century "pirate ship," of the steel-clad square-rigger Columbia, of two 51-foot "Starflyer" space rockets (courtesy of the San Francisco Division), and of eight 100-ton diesel-electric passenger submarines.

For New York's shortlived competing attraction, Freedomland, in the North Bronx, the Hoboken division subsequently constructed two sternwheel steamboats of its own. These twin-stacked 90-footers suffered the indignity of being delivered on barges via the Hudson, East, and Hutchinson Rivers--perhaps less humiliating treatment, after all, than the arrival of Mark Twain's 105-foot hull at Anaheim on a 20-wheel flatbed.

After Freedomland's demise, one of these samples of Todd craftsmanship in miniature was moved a few miles up Long Island Sound to Greenwich, Connecticut, where it remains in conspicuous use today as the restaurant-lounge of a harborside motel.
After a little bit of searching, I found a whole page on The Freedomland Boats. For the past decade or so, the boat that went to Greenwich has been in Port Chester, New York and is a private venue known as Dot and Bill's Showboat.

But what in the world are the two "Starflyer" space rockets?

On another note entirely, May 1 has come and gone and the Disneyland Encyclopedia I blogged about back in March does not seem to have been released as planned. At least, Amazon does not yet have it in stock and the publisher's web site still lists the title as "Coming Soon." I hope it's not delayed too long, as I'm really looking forward to seeing what it could be.


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Nice post, great information you found, even if it's jus the one page. Yes, what were the two "Starflyer" space rockets? At 51 feet, they could not have gone un-noticed?

Unknown said...

The Starflyers have to be the Rocket To The Moon rockets. I ma pretty sure that I read somewhere that they did order two of them and one of them was broken or something...

Was it The Nickel Tour or the E-Ticket?

Curse my book collection!

Jason Schultz said...

George: Theree were two Moonliners made in 1955. However, they were not the same size and the Disneyland one was, I believe, 80 feet tall. The other one went to TWA Headquarters.

After further consideration, I thought perhaps the author misattributed some other amusement park's ride to Disneyland. And, as it turns out, that's what happened. This is from the Oakland Tribune, July 6, 1959 (note that it's "Star Flyer" rather than "Starflyer," as well):


"A 65-foot silvery model space ship, designed for amusement purposes, which has been orbiting lately between San Leandro and Alameda, is now firmly on course towards its original destination--the Texas State Fair in Dallas.

"The space rocket, similar to the 'Star Flyer' formerly anchored in the space ship concession at Peralta Park, has been the object of a legal hassle between its builder, the Alameda Division of Todd Shipyards and the U.S. Amusement Corp. of Oakland.

"John C. Houlihan, attorney for the amusement company, said Todd had originally agreed to deliver two of the space ships for $33,000 plus costs for improvements.

"When notified of unforeseen expenses, the amusement company agreed to pay $37,500 for the two ships.

"Todd said the total price would be $63,000, Houlihan said, and the matter was then taken to Court.

"As first one side and then another won a legal point the five-and-a-half-ton model was shuttled back and forth between the Todd shipyards in Alameda and the Bigge Drayage Yard in San Leandro.

"Today, announcement of settlement of the suit was made in Federal District Court in San Francisco by Judge Willis Ritter.

"The announcement said a price had been agreed on and the $300,000 damage suit brought by U.S. Amusement against Todd would be dropped.

"Houlihan said the price agreed upon for the two simulated rockets was $40,825 and that one ship is now on its way to the Texas fair via railroad flatcar.

"It was also agreed that the second ship, destined for Belmont Park in San Diego, will be delivered upon 10 days' notice.

"The rockets, which provide a realistic mock flight to the moon, have seating capacities of 40 persons each."

The book sure didn't mention all that!

Unknown said...

Great research!

Very impressive.

But...what exactly is a realistic mock space flight, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Todd Shipyards had a New York office and a San Pedro office. The New York was the center of operations. I'm also assuming whomever wrote the book got most of the material from the NY office. On the Disney end, Fowler was always the contact for Todd Shipyards--for the Mark Twain, the Columbia, and the eight subs. As Fowler used to manage the naval shipyards up north, I assume that he probably had previous contact with them before coming aboard at Disneyland.