Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gallop to Nowhere - 1955

Today I'm posting an article from a 1955 issue of Kaiser Aluminum's magazine Aluminations on the refurbishment of the King Arthur Carousel at Disneyland.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Roller Coasters! video on Arrow Dynamics

This is a terrific 1990 documentary about Arrow Dynamics with some excellent POV video and the best footage I've seen on the Pipeline. 18:46 of enjoyment!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Car Body Styles

I've already blogged about the similarity between the Kaiser Darin and Midget Autopia, but haven't spent much time on all the styles of cars which Arrow did, so here is an Arrow Car Spotter's Guide;
Maybe you can help identify which parks these were operating at. I'll be adding some others later, for comparison.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Arrow Rio Grande Era Brochure

I recently met another Arrow employee who very kindly shared a brochure from the Rio Grande years which contains many wonderful photographs of Arrow rides.

Particularly interesting are the ones of the Rub-A-Dub ride, as it is clearly related to the patent which Ed Morgan received in November of 1973 (USD229,354). The boats are seen on page 4 of the brochure. There is also a carousel with a Griffin styled seat which I had not seen before.

I'll be posting more images over the next couple of weeks.

A Subsidiary of Rio Grande Industries
Rio Grande Era Carousel?

Ed Morgan 1973 Boat Patent
Rub-A-Dub Boats 
Any guesses where this may be?

And some new coaster images:

And on a further note; the legend of Arrow's Intellectual Property continues. In November 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, acquired 77.3% of S&S...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Discoveries! Honest Abe & Two Arrow Ponies

Just when I thought that there were no new traces of Arrow's work to be found, three items turned up in the last two weeks. I'm posting the images and text pretty much as they appear on the web.

First is a 36" gauge locomotive and four passenger cars being offered for sale on Discover Live Steam;

36" ga. Arrow Development Train
Made by the Arrow Development company this "Steam Outline" train is powered by a 190 HP 4 cyl. propane engine (not running).  
The train includes 4 Passenger coaches each holding 18 passengers.  Also included are approximately 6,800' of 16 pound rail, 5 barrels of rail spikes and rail joiners and 1 rail spacing gauge.  Built in the early 60s, there where 14 of these trains made. 
Located between Seattle and Portland, OR.

The owner, Ron Brett, writes:

"I was told by the person I bought it from that it originally ran around a shopping center in Seattle WA. Both were removed to make room for the worlds fair in 1962. The person who purchased it then had his own carnival and would set it up at different fairs in the northwest. Eventually he sold the train to someone in Eatonville WA. who couldn’t pay, so it was repossessed and sat neglected for many years.

When I retired I bought 26 acres just south of Toledo Washington, where my wife and I started a farm and pumpkin patch called Story Book Farm.  I thought that a train would be a good addition and I had heard about this train sitting in the bushes around Marysville WA.  Eventually I located it and the owner. It took a year to convince him to sell. He moved the train to my property outside Toledo 3 yrs. ago."

Next are two carousel horses located in Massachusetts:

1950's Arrow Development Company Carousel Horse

Cast Aluminum Middle Row Jumper
Physical Condition - Excellent
Paint Condition - Some minor chips and scratched from normal wear and tear.

The Arrow Development Company that built this carousel horse was a pioneer inthe amusement park ride industry. The company was contacted by Walt Disney to engineer, build and install several rides for the original Disneyland. (One of the most famous being the Matterhorn Bobsleds - the first of it kind.)This carousel horse came from the Town and Country Mall Carousel in Kendall, Florida. It was painted by the Fabricon Carousel Company of New York for the owner in the mid 1980's.

1950'S Arrow Development Company Carousel Horse

Aluminum outer row jumper 
Physical condition - Excellent
Paint condition -good. Some minor chips and scratches from normal wear and tear.

If anyone knows more about these two ponies or the Honest Abe locomotive, please drop me a note at

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reviews of Building Disney's Dream

Click here to get a free sample chapter
I've recently been contacted by yet another Arrow relative, this time the wife of a cousin of Bill Hardiman who says; "Both my husband and I had rides on Arrow Development creations as children." Hopefully this new connection will help add even more to the story.

Expanding on Robert Reynold's earlier book, Building Disney's Dream fills in the rest of the story of Arrow Development, which started out as a small machine shop founded by Andy Anderson, Karl Bacon, Bill Hardiman and Ed Morgan, and subsequently grew to be the largest producer of amusement park rides in the world.

I'll continue to post supplemental material about Arrow here, which will fill out the story even further and offer some deeper insights into who did what and how they did it.

Building Disney's Dream is available on the iTunes Store.  For a .pdf contact us at and watch for future updates and editions.

Here are a few reviews of the eBook;

Robert Reynolds, author of Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers wrote:

"Building Disney's Dream contains an amazing amount of detail which is the result of passionate research.  Reading it, I’ve learned a number of things which I hadn’t even known before.  

I especially liked the parts about the Arrow Huss and S & S mergers, which filled in the details which Ed and Karl didn't elaborate on during my interviews with them.

This book contributes significantly to our knowledge of the amusement industry in this precisely detailed account of Arrow Development. The extensive research has uncovered many gems from the early days of Disneyland and the development of the tubular steel roller coaster. 

I highly recommend Building Disney's Dream as a valuable addition to any history of Disney or the theme park industry."

Didier Ghez, author of Walt's People said; "I absolutely LOVE it."

Don Lancaster says:

"This book is interesting, informative and a lot of fun. Mr. Francis' love of the topic is obvious from the moment you begin reading, which results in a book that draws you in and holds your interest.

I have a large collection of books on Imagineering, theme park design and the ride design, and I often find that many of the books that I buy contain very little new information for me. That was  not the case with this book. I already knew some things about Arrow, especially regarding their work with Disney, but this book contained a lot of information and stories that I had never encountered before. It is clear that Mr. Francis put a great deal of work into researching the people behind Arrow and their contributions to the roller coaster and theme park industries.

The illustrations in the book are wonderful. There some beautiful pictures of Arrow rides (including an amazingly beautiful picture of a carousel), drawings from patent applications, old Arrow marketing materials and much more.

To be honest, the book jumps around a bit. At one moment it can be discussing the history of the company, then change topics to a specific ride, then to a specific ride designer, then to certain elements of ride design. It took me a bit to get used to it, but the style actually serves the book well. It gives the book a more conversational tone that helps to communicate the author's passion for the subject matter.

If you enjoy books on theme parks or roller coasters and the people behind them, or even if you are just curious about the topic, I highly recommend this book."


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Preserving the stuff of History

Hanging on the wall in the front hall of a modest house in Southern California is half of a carousel horse, with a long flowing mane and a short cropped tail.  Poised mid-leap, head erect, prancing towards the front door. For many years it hung on the office wall of one of Arrow's directors.

Before the pony was brought down from the attic, the wall was occupied by a large collage of photographs documenting the entire history of Arrow Development, which were donated to someone out of state.

During a conversation with the horse's loving owners, the contents of two large filing cabinets were mentioned. A detailed record of nearly every financial transaction the family had over the course of their employment at Arrow, which were spring-cleaned away years ago.

We stand on the brink of a great divide. As digital media becomes more and more prevalent, the collected knowledge and wisdom of previous generations is being left behind - or discarded - thru simple, honest, acts of oversight.

Unlike the Great Library of Alexandria, these records aren't held in a grand and wonderful edifice. These records are in closets and attics, boxes and bookshelves all around the country.  Slides, movies, postcards, letters and magazines, many of which have never been published, even though they technically fell into the public domain years ago.

Help transcribe the stories and keep the legends alive. Convert the acts of victory, sacrifice and struggle into a form that future generations will have easy access to. Honor and preserve their wisdom. It might help someone else avoid a mistake, do something amazing, or even change the world.