We love this Frontierland ride and collect anything related to it. This page will give you some information about the attraction and our interest in it.
We are always looking for more information; memories of the ride; pictures, films or audio clips from it; and, of course, collectibles or parts from the ride or the nearby Mineral Hall (another fascination for us). Please contact us if you wish to share any of the above with us.
Attraction History: A Brief Guide
Rainbow Caverns Mine Train:
Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland
Big Thunder Mountain and the Big Thunder Ranch are on top of the old mine train. Parts of Rainbow Ridge remain as the town which Big Thunder RR pass at the end of the ride. There are a number of tributes to the old ride as part of Big Thunder, thanks to the work of Tony Baxter, the designer of the replacement ride.
Cascade Peak remained for years, but is no longer, having been bulldozed and removed by Disney several years ago. One train rots quietly along the banks of the river where Cascade Peak used to be. Marmots pop up out of the lone car. The Bear River trestle also remained for years but was wiped out in a small landslide after a rain storm. The little lake the bears swam in remains, even if the bears do not, and sometimes a fish mechanism jumps, the sole reminder of Bear River.
Big Thunder Ranch still has some of the rock work, although the whole thing was covered with about six feet of dirt, so the real attraction is buried below where you walk. Many of the animals which were in the attraction were too broken to be salvaged, so they are buried beneath that dirt. It would be a strange archeological dig someday.
Pictures of the Attraction
We have collected many photos, slides, and amateur films of the Mine Train (in its various incarnations). How else can we make an accurate scale model of the entire layout? Some of these pictures of the Nature's Wonderland area are available for viewing. See samples below:
Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland:
We have been putting together the research necessary to build a model of the NWRR since 1999. We have just begun construction although it is slow going for now. We plan to build a 7 foot by 7 foot model in HO scale but with N gauge track (HOn30) to simulate the narrow-gauge layout of the original.
Check back here for updates on our recent activity:
March 2006: Built the animation mechanism for the Battling Elk. Plan to build a small sample landscaping box with working Elk.
March 2006: Turned in all of our amateur 8mm and 16mm Disneyland films for professional transfer. Many of these contain unique and exciting views of the NWRR attraction. Camera place was fast and we now have excellent quality computer files for editing.
Jan/Feb 2006: Mock up of town buildings using wooden blocks and photos to correct scale. Using this to plan placement and materials needed to begin construction.
7.5" Live Steam Gauge:
The New Nature's Wonderland RR
In the Fall of 2005 we purchased a small riding locomotive in 7.5" gauge with a yellow riding car for it to pull. The train is from a wonderful little company called "Real Trains" and it is a great electric locomotive based on an old switcher prototype.
It fits in the back of our car and we can haul it to various tracks. We are members of the Chula Vista Live Steamers and have also visited the Los Angeles Live Steamers. Pictures of some of these events are here.
Our locomotive is painted in the NWRR colors in tribute to our obsession with the old Disneyland ride. Our plan is to build small ore cars for the locomotive. Eventually we will also build a locomotive which actually looks like the original NWRR trains. We will probably have it be pushed by a tender which is electrically powered (just like the original).
Until then, we will continue to enjoy our New Nature's Wonderland Engine #1.
Mineral Hall was a free exhibit and shop next door to the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland from 1956 to 1963. This was back in the day when Disneyland allowed outside vendors to run stores within the park. Mineral Hall was run by Ultra-Violet Products, a company owned by Thomas Warren.
One product of Mineral Hall was Mineral Land Rocks. We have put together a decent collection of the individual rocks which are listed on the page linked above. We are still looking for the larger box of rocks which were also sold in the park. We still hope to find this and the large display from which the individual rocks were sold.
UV lamps, fluorescent chalk, coloring books, and other souvenirs were sold in the store, in addition to a selection of large rocks, many of which were fluorescent. There was a Tinkerbell wand which glowed. This was made by Thomas Warren's company and an ad for it clearly states it was sold in Mineral Hall.
We have two items with Mineral Hall stickers on them: a small oil lamp and a set of tombstone salt and pepper shakers. This indicates that the store sold a number of typical souvenirs which you might find at other tourist spots like Knotts Berry Farm. The only indication of their origin is the nice metallic sticker on each of them.
In July of 2004, we entered a display in the San Diego County Fair (formerly known as the Del Mar Fair). It was in the Rocks and Minerals building. This educational display took our collection of Mineral Land rocks and other Mineral Hall products and talked about how Thomas Warren set up Mineral Hall to help educate children about fluorescence and get them excited about rock collecting. Our exhibit won an "Educational Display Award" receiving a ribbon and a $50 prize.
If you have any information about Mineral Hall, we would love to hear from you.