Happy New Year all! As my first post in 2016 I wanted to finish discussing my trip to Marceline. This is part 2 of 2 for this Marceline trip and the second installment of the Hometown Hero series. In the first post I discussed the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. In this post we are going to take a look at the sites around the town of Marceline including the Disney farm and downtown Marceline.
After leaving the museum my wife and I headed downtown. It was Independence Day weekend so the town was decked out in their patriotic decorations and had the center of town set up for a carnival with food and rides to be used that evening. Most of the stores were closed for the holiday weekend but we were able to look around in the stores and even get some delicious ice cream! The main road of downtown Marceline, as many know, was what influenced Main Street U.S.A at the Disney parks.
One of the first sites we saw is the Zurcher building. Originally housing the Zurcher Jewelry store. The main business for the store was in pocket watches. The Santa Fe railroad required all conductors to have a perfectly wound pocket watch as this was before radio communication, being on time was the only way to avoid train crashes. Each conductor on this line received a watch from Zurcher and had to report back to the store at least once a month to get the watch rewound and to receive their paycheck. If they couldn’t prove they had reported for their watch to be wound, they wouldn’t get their paycheck.
On the side of this building is an old Coca Cola ad. This painting on the side of this corner building was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Coca Cola Refreshment Corner. It was so cool to be able to see this bit of history that was not only important to the town but to Disney as well.
As we got down to the end of one side of the street we saw the light post with Mickey ears and the words “Main Street USA” on the sign commemorating the towns impact on Disney.
As we head to the other side of the street we stop to get some ice cream as it was a hot Midwest day! We move down the block and found the Uptown movie theater which was the site of the World premiere of the short “The Spirit of Mickey” on July 14th 1998.
From here we left the quaint down town and began to search for some of the others sites from Walt’s History. We drove across the train tracks and made out way into a neighborhood and turned a corner and found Walt Disney Elementary. Nothing special about this except the name and the signs were definitely cool looking, at least I think so!
In the same parking lot was a flag pole for the school which was an official flagpole from the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, CA. You might be wondering, why is that there? Well, Walt Disney was the Chairman of the Pageantry Committee and design and executed the opening ceremonies. After the Olympics, Walt gifted the pole to the town and they placed in at the school.
Finally, it was time to head out of town and to the Disney farm! We parked off the road and walked into the woods. The first site that stuck out was a tall cottonwood tree right in the middle of the pathway. This is the Son of Dreaming Tree. Many Disney fans who know about Walt’s time in Marceline know of a favorite tree on their farm where he would play and when he came back to visit he would always spend time under the same tree. Unfortunately in May of 2015 the tree died. It had been struck by lightning many times and had finally succumbed to disease. In preparation for this Son of Dreaming tree was planted in 2004. At this ceremony soil from Magic Kingdom and water from the Rivers of America were combined for the planting on the farm. Beyond these trees everything opens up to a huge meadow filled with flowers and you see the Disney barn.
This barn is a recreation of the original barn on the property. It is a pretty simple building and when you walk in you are greeted with hundreds of signatures from those who have visited the site. There is also one beam that was at Disneyland for signing and then brought to the farm to be placed in the barn. There are plenty of markers and pens lying around for you to add your mark on the barn. Of course my wife and I couldn’t resist!
From here we slowly walked back to our car taking in all of the beauty of the barn and meadow. This was the end of our Marceline trip, but we know we want to go back soon! Again, I highly recommend a trip if you are in the area as it is a hot spot for anyone who likes Disney history or even small town America.