Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cawston Ostrich Farm

When I go to Disneyland in fabulous Anaheim California or Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Florida I always seem to make my way to the mutoscopes.

If you don't know the word "mutoscope" don't worry, neither did I until about 30 seconds ago.

And if you don't consider me the high mark of intellectualism, and are still worried, I can only remind you of the scene from Bourne Identity where Jason Bourne Identity tells a thug "Pain? I don't know the meaning of the word." The he looks up "pain" in the dictionary and then kills the thug with the book.

Also this may cheer you up: spell check does not know what a mutoscope is.

Or maybe I am spelling it wrong.

Anyway, to write this article I spent about 10 minutes googling "old timey flip book movie machine at Disneyland's Penny Arcade" before I arrived at the term mutoscope.

I usually use them at the end of the night when I am trying to extend my stay at Disneyland past the scheduled closing time (the Penny Arcade usually stays open an hour later than most of the park.)

You put a penny in the slot, put your face up to a View Master looking thingie and the turn a crank to flip the images in the mutoscope.

On my most recent trip I watched this one:

It shows an Ostrich pulling a cart with a (rather unenthusiastic) kid on it.

Seemed like an awesome thing to do, but hey I have never ridden in an ostrich powered vehicle. Perhaps in the past everyone did.

The wagon in the mutoscope has the name Cawston Ostrich Farm written on the side. A quick Google search reveals it to be AMERICA'S FIRST OSTRICH FARM!

The Cawston Ostrich Farm was located in fabulous Passdena, California and was open from 1886 until either 1935 or the late 20s. I found two different sources. I can't say for sure which was right and neither source seemed all that reputable.

But I did find some information on Wikipedia that I cut and pasted and then slightly reworded so as to make it seem less like plagiarism:

In the mid 1880s Edwin Cawston took fifty ostriches from Africa to Texas.Then he took the ostriches via train to Pasadena, California. Only eighteen survived. Cawston was able to get the ostriches to multiply and eventually had over 100 on his Ostrich Farm.

The Cawston Ostrich Farm was close to the Los Angeles trolley line and was a very popular tourist attraction. Guests were able to ride ostriches, buy hats and boas made from ostrich feathers and laugh at the ostriches silly long necks.

At some point people got tired of laughing at the ostriches long neck (probably when the giraffe was invented) and the place closed down.

Today the factory has been turned into expensive lofts and the ostriches could no longer afford to live in Pasadena so they most likely went back to Africa.

But, on a cool night at Disneyland it only costs a penny to be taken back to a time when you could smell an ostrich and not get arrested.


  1. Boy, they do look delicious.

  2. Cawston Ostrich Farm was eventually closed in 1982 when a group of teens broke in after closing to recreate their favorite video game. The whole ordeal would later be called the Joust Incident.