1 · The Gold Rush
2 · Curse of the Thunderbird


While creating Frontierland and its show sets, Imagineer Pat Burke wrote many smaller storylines for the citizens of Thunder Mesa. Most visitors would never be aware of any of these stories but they informed the placement of props, the content of graphics and much more.

One example is the story of the town blacksmith, Jedediah Rose. Not having any sons, he taught the family trade to his daughter, Lavinia. You will come across references to their story all over Thunder Mesa, particularly surrounding Big Thunder Mountain.

Show writer Craig Fleming also wrote a poetic epitaph for the old blacksmith to be displayed at Boot Hill cemetery. Eventually the concept changed and his final resting place was replaced by “Barroom Benny’s” tongue-in-cheek headstone. Here's the original inscription:

“Jedediah Rose
1795 — 1859
‘My sledge and anvil
lie declined,
My bellows too have
lost their wind,
My coal is out,
My iron’s gone,
My nails are drove,
My work is done.’
—Love, Lavinia”

The Original Story


2 · Curse of the Thunderbird

After eleven years of plundering the riches found in Big Thunder Mountain, it would seem that its guardian spirit had finally had enough.

Whether it was actually caused by the Thunderbird’s mighty wings or by an exceptionally strong mining blast, in 1860 a terrible earthquake struck the town of Thunder Mesa. Henry Ravenswood and his wife Martha perished in the quake, while the gold mines collapsed in a shower of rubble and timber.

However, even before this grave incident, it would seem that trouble had been brewing at the Ravenswood home. Rumors said that Melanie’s suitor planned to take her away from Thunder Mesa, and that Henry was furious! After his tragic demise, it seemed that nothing more would stand in the way of their wedding...

As the day of the wedding arrived, however, the groom was nowhere to be seen. Melanie searched for him throughout the house, but in vain. Heartbroken, she locked herself away – or so it was thought. Through the windows she was sometimes seen wandering from hall to hall in her wedding dress, candelabra in hand...

Some said she was waiting for her groom to return, while others believed that she was kept captive in the mansion by some evil presence...

In fact, rumors soon spread that Henry Ravenswood himself had returned from the grave to prevent the wedding and to keep his daughter from ever leaving the house. More than one late night wanderer had walked past the manor to find a dark shadow looming behind the curtains, or to hear the sound of maniacal laughter echoing through the manor gardens.

Over the years, the manor fell into decay. The inhabitants of Thunder Mesa, too scared to set foot on the estate, began calling it Phantom Manor. There were tales of brave souls who had dared to enter the house and never returned.

As for the gold vein of Big Thunder Mountain, the source of Thunder Mesa’s wealth, it was lost in the earthquake. Attempts to retrieve it proved to be in vain.

Without the prospect of getting rich overnight, Thunder Mesa finally regained some of its peace. Steam riverboats lazily made their way up and down the river, while ranchers and farmers settled in nearby Cottonwood Creek.

The restless spirits of Phantom Manor, in the meantime, are said to still be waiting for a courageous soul to find out what really happened that fateful night of the wedding that never was... Any volunteers...?

Written by David G. Ravenswood with thanks to Samuel N. Nutterville.
Images by David G. Ravenswood and the Walt Disney Company.

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