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  1. #1

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    Question When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    On the site, we are told that Big Thunder Mine Train replaced the Mine Train in 1979 and this is true. But it took about two years to build the coaster, right? So when did the old mine train stop running?
    Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion.
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    There should be a sticky thread called "This Day in Disney History." The company has a long history and this would be a good way to acknowledge it. Walt was born 112 years ago; that's quite a chunk of American history and culture.

  2. #2

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Early in 1977, I think -- I remember the shock of losing it hit me not long after Christmas '76.

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  3. #3

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Several sources have mentioned that NWRR's last day was May 26, 1977. Space Mountain opened the next day.

  4. #4

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    I was reading the Disneyland Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., by Chris Stoddard a couple nights ago, and I'm 80 percent sure it had the closing date listed as the first week or so of January 1977.

    Don't have the book with me, but if that's not right (according to the book), I'll post again this evening.

  5. #5

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    The date according to The Disneyland Encyclopedia was Jan. 2, 1977.

  6. #6

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    I'm so bummed I never got to ride this. Even though my parents had brought me to the park a couple times while it was still running and we went on just about everything else, for some reason we never made it on this. I don't think I even knew it existed until years later.

    But I remember seeing commercials for the opening of Big Thunder and my friends and I being so excited. "Big Thunder Strikes!! It could only happen... at Disneyland!" Love it.
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  7. #7

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    This makes sense because my first trip was in 1976 (early December) and I took my one and only ride on that visit. I was a sight to see, because I had just gotten out of Navy bootcamp in San Diego and went to the park in my dress blues.

    Thanks for the info, everyone.
    Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion.
    Harlan Ellison

    I may not be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but I do shine.

    Texan by birth, Californian by choice.

    There should be a sticky thread called "This Day in Disney History." The company has a long history and this would be a good way to acknowledge it. Walt was born 112 years ago; that's quite a chunk of American history and culture.

  8. #8

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    I still think they could have had both the Mine Train and Big Thunder today if they had planned correctly. They should have built Big Thunder Mountain on the northern outskirts of Frontierland, even straddling the berm or beyond the berm if necessary. The DLRR could have run through it. This would have been better "feng shui" as well, with the mountain on the horizon of Fantasyland instead of plopped right on the town. They could have loaded the Big Thunder trains at the location the Pack Mules used to load, right next to the river, and utilized the old Pack Mule trails to get the trains out to the mountain for the fast part. Then they could have reopened the Mine Train and had 2 major attractions in that area today.

  9. #9

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Weaver View Post
    Then they could have reopened the Mine Train and had 2 major attractions in that area today.
    MTTNW was a favorite of mine as well. I always thought that they could have used more of the Painted Desert or even Cascade Peak in the BTMRR. The space that was freed up after Big Thunder was built has never been well used IMO, It would have been a good place to put another ride that could be Fantasyland and Frontierland related. And Cascade Peak was just wasted after the closure. Even a walking path down the old train path would have been good.
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  10. #10

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    I found this picture in my old stuff. I remember being slightly ticked off when I took it, since this is how I found out the MTTNW had closed. I hindsight I wish I had gotten a better shot. It faded and blurred with age and improper storage. I can't find the negative anywhere. It was taken in 1977 even though it says 78.
    Name:  Big Thunder 78-sm.jpg
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  11. #11

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Quote Originally Posted by MRaymond View Post
    I found this picture in my old stuff. I remember being slightly ticked off when I took it, since this is how I found out the MTTNW had closed. I hindsight I wish I had gotten a better shot. It faded and blurred with age and improper storage. I can't find the negative anywhere. It was taken in 1977 even though it says 78.
    MRaymond, that's still a great picture. This is the number one ride that I'm most sad that I've never experienced. For anyone who hasn't seen it, Imagineeringdisney has a really great post about this ride: The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 1*] - Imagineering Disney -, and then there's the Super Fan: Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland.
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  12. #12

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    I miss the Mine Train ride! I remember that distinctive smell of water when traveling through the Rainbow Caverns and can still see the colorful use of the springs inside the caves. So beautiful. And the music!

    Does anyone know how the train was operated? I used to drive the Casey Jr. train and it was a basic lever that moved the train forward. Was the Mine Train ride vehicle run the same way, does anyone know?

    I worked with numerous guys in my tenure at the park who had worked the Mine Train as well as the Mule train…..but I never asked them how the train operated.
    I wonder if they were operated like the Casey train.

  13. #13

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Quote Originally Posted by CASurfer65 View Post
    I miss the Mine Train ride! I remember that distinctive smell of water when traveling through the Rainbow Caverns and can still see the colorful use of the springs inside the caves. So beautiful. And the music!

    Does anyone know how the train was operated? I used to drive the Casey Jr. train and it was a basic lever that moved the train forward. Was the Mine Train ride vehicle run the same way, does anyone know?

    I worked with numerous guys in my tenure at the park who had worked the Mine Train as well as the Mule train…..but I never asked them how the train operated.
    I wonder if they were operated like the Casey train.
    Though I came around WAY to late to experience the NWRR, it seems like I missed a whole lot with Rainbow Caverns and what little I have seen from photos on the internet. If they could only bring one thing back from the NWRR, I would definitely choose the caverns. I'm not entirely sure as to how they were driven, but if I read correctly somewhere, they are battery powered with the drive mechanism in the tender of the locomotive.
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  14. #14

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    Often we hear about how a little something from the former attraction is left in homage in the new attraction.

    In BTMRR it has cascades, rock formations with desert creatures, and rainbow caverns. It is almost not a new attraction just a new track layout.
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  15. #15

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    Re: When did Rainbow Caverns Mine Train stop running?

    The cascades, rock formations and caverns and track on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were all newly built and not left over from the Mine Train. The storefronts at the loading area, though, are the same ones from when the Mine Train was there, and as far as I know are the original buildings. The late Dallas McKennon, who recorded the narration for the Mine Train thru Nature’s Wonderland, also recorded the safety spiel heard at the beginning of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

    Princess Victoria on this forum has done a lot of forensic research on finding the remnants of Nature's Wonderland and the Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland and has posted photos of her findings on the main Disneyland Resort forum, if you're interested.

    The area has a long and interesting history. The first attractions there were the Disneyland Stage Coach (renamed the Rainbow Mountain Stage Coach in 1956), the Conestoga Wagons, and the Mule Pack (renamed the Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules in 1956).

    There are also photos (mainly from Life Magazine) showing a yellow Yellowstone-type surrey taking guests around the Frontierland area and a buckboard ride with guests on it, at least on opening day. I don’t know how long those 2 attractions lasted as information is scarce - possibly only 1 day in the case of the Buckboard.

    In 1956 the Rainbow Caverns feature was completed and the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train operated from July 1956 through October 1959. When you see old photos or films that show dark green train cars, that's the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train.

    So from the period of 1956 to 1959 the area had 4 attractions running simultaneously: the train, the mules, the Conestoga Wagon and the Stage Coach. (Even 5 if you count the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad which ran along the far northern outskirts of the area.) In October 1959 they were all closed, temporarily in the case of the train and the mules, but the Stage Coach and Wagons would never reopen.

    Then over the next 6 months the whole area was redesigned as Nature's Wonderland, adding features such as Cascade Peak and the Living Desert. The original track of the Mine Train was extended to incorporate all the new features. The storefronts at the boarding area and the Rainbow Caverns were left in place.

    The train reopened in May 1960 as Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland, and the mules reopened in June 1960 as Pack Mules through Nature's Wonderland. The mules were an attraction until October 1973, when they were discontinued permanently. The Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland had its last ride on January 2, 1977, according to what I read.

    From 1977 through 1979 the area was dramatically changed and most of the features of Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland were removed or bulldozed. The Rainbow Caverns show building was demolished. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in September 1979. Big Thunder Ranch first opened in June 1986. Those are the 2 attractions that are still there today. The Festival of Fools show ran from June 1996 to April 1998. Cascade Peak, left over from the Mine Train attraction, remained until 1998 when it was found to be structurally suffering and thus was demolished.
    Last edited by Bob Weaver; 01-19-2014 at 06:07 AM.

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