ANAHEIM— You’re probably familiar with Tom Sawyer Island, an attraction at Disneyland that was inspired by Mark Twain’s classic novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. While most are acquainted with Twain’s stories, you might not know that the classic attraction was once open for fishing.
In the late 1950s, there was a location within Tom Sawyer Island called Catfish Cove. Park attendees could borrow one of Huck Finn’s rods and reels and a can of worms and fish for catfish and river perch at the Cove. The idea was that you would bring your catch over to the nearby Aunt Jemima Pancake House (now the River Belle Terrace) to have it stored on ice until you left for the day. The decision to close that feature of the attraction was ultimately finalized because cast members would find fish in random areas of the park that were causing the stench of, well, dead fish. But before they cut the line for fishing in the park, visitors would rent a pole, bait their own hook and try to catch a bite.
Rivers of America was always meant to symbolize America’s interior waterways, but during a 2010 refurbishment, Disney’s Imagineers made the references explicit, redesigning landscaping to suggest four rivers – the Mississippi, Columbia, Potomac and Rio Grande. The Mississippi has a lot of willows and taxodiums, very gray, green, and droopy. The Columbia is representative of the Pacific Northwest with dark, rich brown soil and firs, pines and redwoods. Then the attraction transitions into the Potomac, dotted with birches and trees that change color, not just in the fall, but constantly throughout the year. Lastly, it slips into the Rio Grande, which is the backdrop to Big Thunder Mountain, and decorated with a kaleidoscope of reds and oranges, along with lots of grasses and Manzanita amid a desert-type landscape.
Wikimedia Commons image.