Thursday, May 30, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Burning Settler's Cabin

On the banks of the Rivers of America, lie many attractions visible only by the train, the explorer canoes, or the two ferries that circle Tom Sawyer's Island. Each vignette represents what times were supposedly like in the days of pioneers and American Indian tribes. However, one was perhaps a little too realistic.

The Burning Settler's Cabin lay directly across the Rivers of America, as seen from the Disneyland Railroad. It was a moonshiner's cabin set ablaze, apparently by hostile Indians, complete with a dead settler outside. His body was even pierced with an exaggeratedly large arrow, visible to patrons of the train and boat rides. The cabin was one of the more mysterious additions to Frontierland, as it could only be seen from afar, leaving behind many mysteries of origin and explanation. Who was this settler, and why was he attacked by the "Unfriendly Indians"? Well, it's actually a full-body fiberglass cast of former Imagineer Ed Winger. Winger's name can be seen on one of the windows above the Carnation Cafe on Main Street.

Photo from
Appropriately, the window is captioned, "Old Settler's Gold Dredging", listing Ed Winger as the proprietor. Now, in 1984, the macabre scenario was altered to be a little more racially sensitive, and the explanation for the fire was that the moonshine still had caught fire. The arrow was removed and the settler was still lying there, presumably asleep after having too much to drink. Around 1991, the flames ceased to burn, and the settler was removed entirely. A hollow, charred cabin stood for many years. Recently however, the entire area has been cleaned up, with many additions such as a fire pit, a stable, and a tree house. A sign in front proclaims that the land is now the home of "Mike Fink: King of the River".

The former Burning Settler's Cabin as it appears today
And what's out in front of Mike Fink's cabin? Oh, just his old racing boat, of course.

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