We owe much gratitude to a very small place in Missouri: Marceline.
The enchanting railroad town inspired a young boy with beautiful streets and timelessly romantic appeal. This was the place that a 5 year old child learned to see and draw his dreams!
The beautiful town of Marceline would soon become one of the most important places on earth, population 2233.
That small boy of course, was indeed Walt Elias Disney.
He moved to a farm on the edge of Marceline with his parents in 1906 at the tender age of five.
What happened over the next four years of his time there, truly informed young Walt as he learned to draw animals beautifully at an early age. It was here in Marceline that earned Walt his first ever picture sale, from a drawing of his neighbor’s horse!
In 1887 a new railroad began construction, that would ultimately link Chicago to Kansas City.Along the route a terminal was needed for the railroad and work began on what would become Marceline.
Named after the daughter of a railroad director, the town of Marceline started life with a personality and identity, that could arguably be the origin of Walt’s own passion for the many names that are used in his movies and theme parks.
Nostalgia is a fundamental part of much that we see in Disney’s work on and off screen.
Walt’s fascination with the Railroad of Marceline probably stemmed from him placing his ear to the rail, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a train, to catch a glimpse of the conductor, his uncle ‘Mickey’ Martin. (Could this be ‘the’ Mickey?)
Those obsessions with the trains would go on to inspire Walt to build the steam railroad at WDW and the more futuristic Monorail that defines Walt’s curiosity about ‘tomorrow’.
The railroad wasn’t all the left its mark on Walt. Marceline’s beautiful buildings not only inspired scenes within Walt’s animations, but they became immortalized in Walt’s first theme park, Disneyland. The Main Street in Disneyland took much of its design from Marceline.
The architecture of the park’s signature street portrays his ‘hometown’ right down to the aptly named Candy Store; Marceline’s Confectionery.
Today, Marceline naturally celebrates Walt’s brief presence there. In just 4 years, Marceline shaped a man who would inspire the world and touch the hearts of just about every person on the planet in some way, shape or form.
The railroad still runs through the town and much of the old architecture remains along the rather sleepy if not historic North Kansas Avenue.
If your are in Missouri take a visit some time, it might have changed a lot since Walt was there, but the Nostalgia still remains in a few spots if you love that kind of thing.
There’s a museum
dedicate to Walt located rather appropriately in the depot building of the Santa Fe train company.
There’s a lovely note on the museum’s website that we couldn’t agree more with:
Marceline is “Where Walt Found the Magic.”
Walt’s thoughts on Marceline
“To tell you the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have ever happened since, or are likely to in the future.”
“I’m glad I’m a smalltown boy and I’m glad Marceline was my town”
“I hope the youth of today and the future will know a childhood as happy as mine was in Marceline”
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