Friday, February 6, 2015

Arrow Rio Grande Era Brochure (New!)

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

Even more on the way...

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. They 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 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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Midget Autopia Inspiration?

This undated article entitled M.V. PLANT KEEPS KIDS HAPPY features a photograph of Arrow employees John Jackson, Dick Ellsworth and Karl Bacon assembling what looks like Midget Autopia cars, until you read the caption, which states that Arrow has built 56 of them for Kaiser-Darren Jr. midget cars of Oakland, some of which had already been shipped to Hawaii.

The Kaiser-Darren 161 was a limited production sports car, built in 1954 by Kaiser Motors to compete with European sports cars, like the Triumph TR-2, being introduced to the US after World War II. Designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin, a revamp of Kaiser's Henry J compact, the Kaiser-Darrin was noted for being the first American car with a fiberglass body and doors on tracks which slid into the front fender wells. Only six prototypes and 435 production cars were ever built.

A brief trip to the web (Flickr) turned up this photo of a Kaiser-Darrin kiddie car at a Southern California auto show. 

Now, compare all three photos; the Midget Autopia car at the Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, MO, the kiddie Kaiser-Darren and and a restored Kaiser-Darrin in Arizona.

Midget Autopia Car at Disney Hometown Museum

1954 Kaiser-Darrin

Maybe now we know the real inspiration for the body style of the Midget Autopia cars.

Building Disney's Dream is available on the iTunes Store. 
For a .pdf contact us at

Knott quite the way I remember it

Last Friday we spent some time at a few of our favorite places in and around Orange County, including our mandatory annual visit to Balboa Island and Corona del Mar. Along the way we stopped off at Knott's Berry Farm, which I hadn't visited in so long that I could barely recognize it.

While my wife picked up a large jar of the world famous Boysenberry Jam, which had disappeared from our grocer's shelves about year ago, I picked up a copy of Jay Jennings' Knott's Berry Farm - The Early Years which was sitting by the cash register. It was printed by Arcadia Publishing and fully up to their usual high level of quality.

As I flipped thru the pages, I was somewhat surprised  at some of the statements about Knott's rides and Bud Hurlburt. The text praised Bud's honesty and ingenuity and left me with the impression that he personally designed and built most, if not all, of the early rides, in particular the Calico Mine Train Ride, Timber Mountain Log Ride and Antique Auto Ride.

Rather than jump to any conclusions, I decided to do a bit more research and headed out onto the web. There was a lot of material there, including an article from Yesterland. It stated;

"Hurlbut was an innovator, and his inventions, like flume rides and various motors, were adopted later by much of the theme park industry."

"Unlike Disney, which has teams of talented Imagineers and other specialists to help create each new attraction, Bud had mainly himself to rely on. This is all the more amazing when you consider how much more elaborate, say, the Calico Mine Ride was in comparison to Disney’s Matterhorn—opened just a year apart from one another."

"Other Hurlbut attractions included the well-loved Antique Auto Ride, which was later renamed the Tijuana Taxi when that area of Knott’s was re-christened “Fiesta Village.” 

Bud made sure the ride was not simply a car on a track, but that the passengers would experience an adventure going through all kinds of terrain and past a variety of colorful and amusing scenes."

Many of the older attractions in Fiesta Village also began as Hurlbut concessions. Many of these were relatively familiar rides from a mechanical perspective, but were made colorful and unique by Bud’s focus on appropriate theming and detail.

The photo above shows the Happy Sombreros, a “Tea Cups” clone that featured colorful chili bowls topped with huge fiberglass sombreros. Note that even the operator’s booth and wrought-iron fencing and arches reflect a sense of Old Mexico or Early California.

Now, I'll admit I tend to err on the side of literal interpretation when I read or hear things, but the message seemed pretty clear to me; Bud Hurlbut invented the rides at Knott's Berry Farm, nearly single-handedly. At that point alarm bells started going off in my head. 

Among the documents Shane Huish shared with me was a seven page list of Arrow rides, dated June 1st, 1979.  It's typewritten and stapled in the upper left corner. Titled Arrow Developent Co., Inc. Ride Locations, It lists over 200 ride systems. There are five references to rides at Knott's Berry Farm; The first is in the Corkscrews section, line 4; Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California.

Next was the Steeplechase ride:

What followed, on page 3, in the Flumes Section, really caught my attention. There, between King's Island's Hydro and Log flume rides and Libertyland's Log Boat ride it reads: Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California, ('69) Log Boat.

The Knott's Berry Farm website describes the flume ride;

"This classic attraction, which opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1969, remains as one of the most elaborate log flume rides in the U.S. The much anticipated attraction opened in July 11, 1969 with screen legend John Wayne taking the inaugural ride.

The $3.5 million attraction was originally funded entirely by its designer Bud Hurlbut who had previously designed Knott’s Berry Farm’s classic Calico Mine Ride. Hurlbut, a pioneer in the theme park attraction industry, wanted his flume ride to be a completely immersive experience."

By this time, I had virtual steam coming out of my ears. I needed to sanity check myself, so I went back thru some original Arrow sales material I received from Walter Schultze's daughter Linda. 

There, on the front cover of the December 1975 Arrow Flumes and Automobiles brochures were the two other pictures I knew I'd seen somewhere before. First the flume ride. I've overlaid it on top of the image on Knott's current web site for easy comparison;

Next the Antique Autos. Again, the large image is the Knott ride and the insets are from the 1975 Arrow Automobile product brochure. The radiator on the Knott ride is more rounded, but the side lamps are identical. The Knott ride is also missing the convertible top.

Next, I checked with Linda to see if Arrow did the Antique Auto ride at Knotts. She answered without hesitation;

"Yes, of course.  I remember going to Knott's with my parents when they were putting in the rides there."

There was just one more thing to check, on the Arrow 1979 ride list:

UPDATE:  I received a message from Werner Weiss which sheds even more light on the matter: According to Chris Jepsen, John Waite, one of Bud's close associates, says;

"After the success of the Mine Ride, Bud started to pursue the idea that he had about a ride where riders would ride a log type vehicle down a mountain slope (flume) and splash into a pond.  He had read books where it told of loggers doing this sometimes with fatal results.  He thought of a wheeled vehicle riding on tracks under the water.  He then realized that it was not a good idea to have all the wheels and everything under the water, so he approached his good friends at Arrow Development, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon, about this idea.  

Bud paid for the research that Arrow did up at their plant in Mountain View. He had successfully worked with them on the development of his Car Ride (at Knott's -df) that became one of Arrow's most successful rides at that time.  Bud kept in close contact with them on their testing of a free floating log boat. 

Arrow built a 12' tall model of a drop into a channel of water up at their plant.  When they finally told Bud that they felt they could build a full sized ride, Bud decided he didn't want the first installation.  At that same time Six Flags Over Texas was looking for a new ride and asked Bud if he would let them put in the first Log Ride. Arrow paid Bud back all the money he had spent on experimentation and then opened the first Log Ride that Arrow ever built. (El Aserradero - df) 

This original ride is still in use at SFOT. I think Bud's ride was the 6th or 9th one that they built, and it was the first one to be built in and around a mountain. I also think the logs for Bud's ride were the longest ones they ever built at 11 feet.

Bud had recovered his investment in the Mine Ride within two years and was doing so well that he could afford a larger investment now with the Log Ride. Bud wisely didn't like to take chances and that is why he wanted the Log Ride concept to be tested and proven. With the Mine Ride he was willing to go ahead on his own and develop his idea without another one out there to base his design upon. Bud understood trains but water rides were another story. 

Bud relied a lot on his right hand man, Harry Suker, to help on that design and the building of the ride. Harry came with Bud to help him get the Mine Ride built and then he helped with the building of the Log Ride. He managed both rides for Bud and helped Bud with the building of Castle Park in Riverside."

Building Disney's Dream is available on the iTunes Store.

For a .pdf contact us at

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Walter Schulze Surprise

Walter perusing business about 1968
Walter Schulze steps onto Arrow's stage a bit later than the four founders, but fills a vital role in their future success. Graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA, Walter and his wife Pauline were transferred to San Francisco about 1946. His father, Henry, had been a Vice President and ran the Fore River shipyards in Quincy Massachusetts until his untimely death in 1941. San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilders produced nearly half of all the cargo ship tonnage and 20 percent of warship tonnage built in the entire country during World War II, building an average of one ship per day for the duration of the war.

In addition to his day job, Walter and Pauline did accounting for several small businesses in the Bay Area, including Dura-Bond Bearing, thru which Walter heard of Arrow Development. He appears in a photograph with Walt Disney, Dick Irvine, Joe Fowler, Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan, inspecting an Arrow Antique Ford automobile at the facility in Mountain View around 1954.

Schulze, Bacon, Irvine, Fowler, Morgan and Disney
(image courtesy of Robert Reynolds)

Walter's daughter Linda recalls that her father joined Arrow around 1953, after hearing that one of the founders was interesting in selling his share of the company.  Schulze borrowed $15,000 from his mother Edna and purchased a 1/3 interest. From that time on he became the point man in all of Arrow's business dealings, setting prices for ride systems and filling the role of treasurer and accountant.

It was likely the combination of Schulze's business sense, Karl's design skill, Ed's manufacturing prowess and Walt Disney's focus on the customer that laid the foundation for much of Arrow's future success. Even as late as 1956 Arrow struggled to achieve profitability. Caroline Anderson Moyers, daughter of Arrow co-founder Andy Anderson recalls that the contract with Disney for the Fantasyland rides was fixed at $250,000.  She also has a copy of correspondence from her dad to Bank of America, dated April 1956, stating that he was no longer an owner of Arrow.

After the park opened, Disney asked how Arrow had come out on the deal and discovered that they had lost money on the contract. Disney wrote a check to cover the difference. Four years later he would also by 1/3 of Arrow in an effort to assure their viability. By the time Arrow was sold to Rio Grande Industries in 1971, the company was valued at $3 Million, a 6600% increase. Much of the credit for that growth has to go to Walter Schulze's business acumen. A portion of the proceeds of the sale were in the form of Rio Grande Industries stock.

Linda Schulze had a job as a secretary at Disney in the early 70's and recalls that by that point the relationship with Arrow had begun to cool. Her father was also looking to retire and spend more time in civic activities - he had been a huge booster of the Rotary Club - and wanted to travel. That had a significant influence on Karl and Ed's decision to sell, as the company had grown to the point that it was no longer possible for any one partner to raise enough personal capital to finance a buy out. Although all three would consult to RGI for a few years after the sale, no new projects were funded during that time. Arrow was next sold to Huss in November of 1981.

Walter Shulze died on November 17, 1984 in Los Altos, California. Years earlier, he'd sold off all of his RGI stock.  He must have had a inkling of what was to come.

Building Disney's Dream is available on the iTunes Store. 
For a .pdf contact me at