Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Historical Overview of Arrow Development

One of the interesting things about Arrow is how the company changed over the years. If you haven't heard of Arrow before, don't be surprised.  Most of the time they were too busy to worry about advertising and the work they did for Walt was on contract. It wouldn't be until 5 years after Disneyland opened that Arrow would be partly owned by Disney.

You may have heard of Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan, the two founders who Robert Reynolds focused on in Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers, but there is a lot more to the story.  In addition to Karl and Ed were Angus (Andy) Anderson and William Hardiman. The early news stories make it clear that the four were co-founders in every respect, sharing the work, successes and failures thru the first 15 years. They even passed around their titles, acting as president, vice president and secretary on a rotating basis.

Their wives also played a role from the start, as this fall 1945 photo attests.  In fact, if not for Phyllis Anderson's (fourth from the left below) faithful clipping and preservation of the photos, newspaper articles and brochures from those early days, a lot of this retelling might not have even been possible.

Ed + Betty Morgan/Andy + Phyllis Anderson/Karl + Jane Bacon/Bill + Evelyn Hardiman 
Arrow Development incorporated in the state of Californina on November 16, 1945. From then until 1956, Anderson, Bacon, Hardiman and Morgan were the core team.  About 1956, Anderson and Hardiman would leave to start their own construction company. Walter Schulze bought a 1/3 interest in Arrow around that time, borrowing $15,000 from his mother Edna. Until then, the accounting had been one of Bill Hardiman's primary roles.

Schulze appears on the far left in a photo of Walt Disney inspecting one of Arrow's vintage cars. (Walt is on the far right.) Before that, he and his wife Pauline had done accounting for Dura Bond Bearing, who's owner gave Arrow $5000 worth of work to tide them over when Luscombe Aircraft went bankrupt in 1948. At that time, Arrow was building parts for an aircraft crop dusting kit.  In 1957, Schultze was managing Arrow's ill fated Playtown Kiddieland project in Palo Alto. For more details on Walter Schulze's significant role at Arrow view our posting on him.

Walt Disney was so committed to Arrow's success that he bought 1/3 of the company in 1960.  The May 20th issue of Film Daily had an article entitled; Disney Buys Interest in Outdoor Amusement Firm. The purchase would come after over three years of relationship building between Walt's and Arrow's staff and owners. With such a huge role in the development of those early rides, Disney did not want Arrow's future to be in doubt.  Interestingly, Arrow suffered from some of the same cost estimating issues that plagued Disney during their early years, with development costs often exceeding estimates and profit margins slim to none.

In 1965, Ron Toomer was hired to work on water flow issues on Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean and engineering for the Run-A-Way Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas.  Ron was the first degree'd engineer at Arrow, having graduated from the University of Nevada in 1961 with a BSME.

Ron Toomer - the coaster designer with the queezy stomach.

In 1971, Dick Nunis, then chairman of the Disney Park Operations Committee, informed Ed and Karl that with the opening of Central Fabrication Shops in Orlando, Disney would be bringing the ride development efforts in-house. The next year Karl and Ed would sell Arrow to Rio Grande Industries. In 1977, Arrow would open a 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Clearfield, Utah. By 1980, they were no longer operating in Mountain View and Ed and Karl were both in retirement.

In 1981 Huss Maschinenfabrik purchased Arrow from the Rio Grande, merging the two entities to form Arrow-Huss. The company would start having financial difficulties, partially due to investing heavily in the Darien Lake theme park and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.

On January 2, 1981, Dana Morgan (Ed's son) would file an application for a Certificate of Authority to operate in Utah for Arrow Huss, Inc., listing Klaus Huss, Urs Affolter and Robert Peers as Directors and himself as President. Dana estimated Arrow’s gross worldwide business transactions for '81 at $8 million and the value of the company at $5 million, however his revenue projection for operations in Utah for that year was zero.

Two years later, Dana would leave Arrow-Huss to start D.H. Morgan Manufacturing in Scotts Valley, CA, and begin building versions of several classic Arrow rides, including electric cars, an Omni-mover type system for Kings Island and refurbishing the Santa’s Village Carousel. His legacy in the amusement park business in California deserves it's own story.

By March of 1984, control of Arrow shifted entirely to Bernd Zwickau and Boyd Draeger.  One year later Arrow-Huss, Inc. filed for bankruptcy.

The December 31, 1985 Utah restated certificate of incorporation would change the company name to Arrow Dynamics, Inc., with a valuation of $12 million and Norman Scott, Ronald Toomer, Otis Hughes, David Klomp and Ray Crandall as Directors.  From 1986 forward, the company would operate as Arrow Dynamics.

Arrow Dynamics Stock Certificate bearing the signature of R V Toomer

As part of the bankruptcy agreement, Arrow Dynamics was limited to engineering. A sister company, Fabriweld, was formed and located right next door in the Freeport Center. Mostly composed of ex-Arrow employees, and incorporated on June 29th, 1987, Fabriweld made track for Arrow and Vekoma, which was acting as Arrow’s European distributor. Over the next ten years Arrow Dynamics would produce some of the fastest, largest and highest roller coasters in the world, but struggle financially on the big rides, mostly due to the high cost of R & D.

In 2000, Ron Toomer retired.  On December 3rd, 2001 Arrow Dynamics would file for bankruptcy with $ 2.2 Million in debts. Their last project was the supporting tower for the 2002 Olympic Cauldron.  

2002 Winter Games Olympic Cauldron

In November 2012, S&S Worldwide Inc., entered into a binding agreement with Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, whereby Sansei acquired 77.3% interest in S&S. Signage at the 2012 and 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expos promoted the new company as S&S - Sansei Technologies.

As of 2014, S & S continues to develop amusement park rides and has a web site at

1945 to 2001 isn't a bad run, by any measure.  Thanks for visiting and helping us keep their memory alive.  Please tell your friends about the blog and help spread the story.

(Thanks to Kevin Russell and Carolyn Anderson Moyers for the images of the Stock Certificate and foundation celebration.)

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  1. Very interesting to find your site and articles about Arrow.
    In 1959 when I was 7 years old my parents built a home on Oakhurst Ave in Mtn View -right next door to Carl Bacon. Great neighbor and all-around good guy.
    His daughter lives there now and I am still in occasional contact with her.
    I do have some memories of the early shop, and attended the opening of the "new" building on Plymouth ave. Carl gave me my first job when I was 16 -working on the Haunted House ride for Disney. I believe I still have some paycheck stubs up in the attic, will have to look for them.
    One thing that may be of interest to you is that they had amazingly detailed scale models of some of the early rides stored up in the shop mezzanine -I wonder what happened to them?
    Thanks for keeping their memory alive on the web.
    -Paul Tavenier Los Altos, CA

  2. Paul - Thank you very much for your message. I'd be pleased to speak with you further and would also be interested in any information Susan or Nancy may have that they'd care to share or discuss. So much of the material from those early days are gone, I wanted to do what I could to preserve it and tell the rest of the story beyond were Rob Reynolds left off. Please also drop in on our Facebook page.