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In a previous article, we took a close look at all the various badges that have adorned the hats worn by conductors of the Disneyland Railroad over the years. Today, I'd like to focus on the hats worn in the business end of the trains—the hats worn by the engineers and firemen on the Disneyland Railroad. We'll also look at a few anomalies that have crept in along the way. So, without further adieu, let's begin my tip of the hat to…engineer hats!

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Walt waves from the cab of the Ernest S. Marsh,
proudly wearing his official SF&D engineer hat.

As many know, when Walt Disney was looking for sponsorship of his new railroad circling the berm of his a-building theme park in Anaheim, he solicited several railroads to participate. In Southern California, there were three main carriers serving the area: The Southern Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Of these three transcontinental railroads, only the Santa Fe accepted Walt's invitation. This was perhaps determined by fate: Walt's uncle, Mike Martin, was an engineer on the Santa Fe, and often regaled Walt and his siblings with adventurous tales of the High Iron.

Walt's new railroad would be known as the "Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad," and as part of the sponsorship agreement, the Santa Fe's logo, or herald, would be affixed to the stations and water tank along the route, printed on tickets and stamped on conductor hat badges. That herald, going back to 1901 (ironically, the year of Walt Disney's birth), was comprised of a cross within a circle—sometimes further surrounded by a square—with the words "Santa Fe" written horizontally.


Santa Fe's official herald.

There are several stories surrounding the creation of the herald. Most versions have a Santa Fe executive drawing a circle around a silver dollar, and inserting the cross. The cross within a circle represented the New Mexican Indian's symbol for the Christian faith (the cross within a circle symbolized the sun god that the Indians worshipped). Other meanings for the cross are that it symbolizes the four points of the compass, and the cross carried by the Franciscan padres during the exploration of the Spanish conquistadors in the Southwest. One final interpretation is that the three symbols—circle, square and cross—symbolized the three ideals of doing business: soundness, good faith and four-square integrity. The colors were usually blue and white, or black and white.

Walt determined to give the new "branch" of the Santa Fe its own identity, and while the herald for the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad would naturally use the cross within circle design as its basis, it would also feature differences specific to Disneyland. Walt's designers developed a herald that included the cross within a circle, with the words "Santa Fe & Disneyland" written diagonally across the cross. On tickets, this image was printed only in black, but on the first iteration used on the engineer hats of the SF&D engine crew, the design featured a blue cross within a red circle, and white lettering. Here is one of the very earliest hats ever used on the SF&D Ry., going back to 1955:


This is the earliest known design for the
Santa Fe & Disneyland engineer hat and patch.

The hat is a "balloon" style, made of six panels sewn together and meeting at the top. It doesn't have the square-ish pleats typical of later, more recognizable engineer hats. There is a manufacturer's label visible under the patch, but the patch covers the maker's name. The color and location of the label suggests the manufacturer was Lee (known more recently for its denim jeans), but Kromer is also a remote possibility.

The patch itself is about 3.5" in diameter. The letters are italicized, and are angled up to the right in the deep blue field of the cross.

Shortly after this hat style made its debut, a second generation was created. Both the hat and the patch design were changed. The hat, while still made by Lee, took on the familiar pleated shape most folks associate with engineer hats. The patch itself was slightly smaller, at three inches in diameter. The lettering was also altered. Now, it wasn't italicized, but was still angled up to the right.


The patch is original, but the hat itself is modern production,
and can still be purchased today.

This hat was in use from the late 1950s, all the way through to the day the Santa Fe ended sponsorship in 1974.Walt Disney and other folks were frequently photographed wearing this style hat.


Fred Gurley shakes hands with Chief Nevangnewa as Walt
and Harley Ilgen, in the cab—all wearing their SF&D hats—look on.


You can just make out the engineer's hat patch in this close-up form a 1958 INA ad.

In the aftermath of this very bitter divorce, all references to the Santa Fe were removed from the Park (out of pure vindictiveness, Disneyland even tried to force the Santa Fe to pay for the removal of all vestiges of the railroad's name from the stations, spiels, the Monorail and the water tower—to no avail). With a few pen strokes, the railroad that had been known since 1955 as the Santa Fe & Disneyland ceased to exist after nearly 20 years of operation, and a new entity was born: The Disneyland Railroad.

As such, a new hat patch would need to be designed. And to many, it's a design only a mother could love.

The engineer hat patch that emerged in the aftermath of the Disneyland/Santa Fe split is perhaps one of the oddest, most inartistic patch designs ever created for the Park. The patch became oval shaped, with a gold border sewn with reflective metallic thread. "Walt Disney," in a font meant to appear like Walt's signature, ran straight across the top in black thread, while "Incorporated" curved along the bottom. Smack dab in the center of the white field is what appears to be a purple stylized representation of a four-wheeled steam locomotive, bearing more resemblance to a child's drawing of a "choo-choo" than any known actual steam locomotive. Actually, "Rorschach ink blot" may be a better description. How this patch ever managed to leap the hurdles of Disney's quality control is really anyone's guess.


A well used hat from the 1970s/early 1980s. What were they thinking?

The hat manufacturer appears to have been changed. While the maker's label has again been hidden mostly hidden by the patch, a potion is still visible, and appears to be from OshKosh (OshKosh, a kid's clothing label today, once made a wide variety of hickory-striped clothing items for adults, including engineer hats). The hat is not specifically sized any more, but has an adjustable band in the back. This hat may have been used through the time when RETLAW sold its interests in the railroad to Disneyland in the early 1980s. When the construction of Splash Mountain closed the railroad in the late 1980s, someone realized this would be the perfect opportunity to do away with the embarrassing Walt Disney Incorporated patch, and design a new one.

The next hat patch in the Disneyland Railroad lineage was again an oval design, with a white background and a red border. The words "Disneyland Railroad" are at the top and bottom in black thread, and in the middle is a very nice rendering of a steam train at speed, with a plume of smoke trailing behind. The locomotive is red with orange wheels, and the passenger cars are yellow.


This hat patch may be most familiar to most of MiceAge's readers,
having been used throughout the 1990s.

The hat itself is standard issue OshKosh, with a sizing band in the back. Students of Disneyland Railroad or ticket history will recognize the design of the train as being based on the E.P. Ripley engraving that adorned early SF&D tickets. This patch was quite successfull, and was used through the 1990s and into the 2000s. Over the years, however, many of these hats disappeared from Wardrobe, and for several years in the early 2000s, no hat patches were used.


Roundhouse Lead Craig Ludwick wears his DRR hat with patch
during the E.P. Ripley's visit to the Fullerton Rail Days festival.

Shortly after Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005, however, a new hat design started showing up. These hats differed significantly from their prior counterparts in three major respects. First, the hat was now no longer made in the United States, as the Lee and OshKosh hats had been. Instead, the hats were purchased through a company called Philadelphia Rapid Transit Headwear, and the hats were made in China (an American-made version of the same hat is available through Philadelphia Rapid Transit for a tad more money. It's sad that Disney didn't feel the need to support American workers for the small premium, on this most-American of railroads…the only time I'm aware of that the road "went foreign").


This is the Disneyland Railroad hat currently in use.
Made in China. Unlike everything else on the line.

Second, for the first time the design on the front of the hat was not a patch, but was embroidered directly onto the hat by Philadelphia Rapid Transit. The herald was the intertwined "DRR" design that has adorned the railroad and its infrastructure since the end of Santa Fe sponsorship. The "D" is sewn in gold, with one "R" being green, and the other red. All the letters are outlined in black.

Third, a bar code was permanently applied inside the hat's headband, to discourage theft of the hats. The hats again include an adjustable band in the back.

These hats certainly feature one of the nicest, cleanest designs yet seen on official DRR engineer hats. Sadly, the poor quality of the Chinese-made hats is quite apparent, the denim being significantly thinner than the OshKosh or Lee hats.

While the DRR hat is the hat that will be used for the foreseeable future as the "official" engineer hat, it's interesting to note that there have been several other designs, both Disney made and otherwise. So now, let's take a look at other hats and patches associated with the Disneyland Railroad.

One of the nicer designs that you may see pop up on occasion has a very interesting history. The late Tom Grace and Downs Prior, two fans and collectors of Disneyland Railroad memorabilia, designed this hat patch in the 1990s, to replace the rapidly disappearing white Disneyland Railroad patch. It was produced as a sample for Disney's approval, but was never accepted as official.


The Grace/Prior concept patch may have been one of the nicest yet conceived.

The patch itself was again oval in shape, with a deep burgundy background reminiscent of the Lilly Belle's color. The words "Disneyland Railroad" appear in white above and below, and the familiar intertwined "DRR" logo graces the center, in yellow, red and green. This patch is often considered one of the nicest looking designs made, and it seems a shame Disney chose not to use it.

The hat, as can be seen, is by OshKosh, and Tom and Downs deviated from tradition by having the patch sewn above the hat label.

These patches occasionally find their way to internet auctions and such, and are often described as official CM costume pieces, so please be aware of the actual story if you are planning to purchase one.

The next hat design we'll look at was issued in 2002, in conjunction with a wide range of Disneyland Railroad-related products that were released through the Disneynana Store. The other items produced that year include an Ernest S. Marsh pin set, a denim jacket, decorated coffee mugs, bandanas, whistles, and a large-scale model of the Marsh.


This design would probably have been well received by the
DRR engine crews. It features a nice, classic look.

Perhaps portending the future of the official DRR engineer hat, the design was embroidered directly to the front of the hat. An attractive red, green and gold design, based on the railroad's herald as seen gracing the entrance of Main Street Station was applied to a hat of unknown manufacture (A tag inside states, however, "Made in U.S.A," along with an American flag). Ever vigilant about protecting their designs, "© Disney" is sewn alongside the herald's lower right quadrant. Tacky, but expected, I suppose.

When this hat was released, I thought it a perfect replacement hat for the patch-less hats then in wide use on the railroad, and often wondered why Disney didn't use the design for an official engineer hat. It's been surmised that Disney would not offer the same costume piece to the general public that was ever being used in an official capacity.

Finally, a couple years ago, one more Disneyland Railroad hat was offered to the general public. This hat was geared only toward children, and again the manufacturer is unknown. Once more, the design was embroidered directly to the front of the cap.


A fun hat for kids with a train thing.

The background is red and green, with gold "Disneyland Railroad" lettering. The intertwined DRR herald is colored with pastel pink, blue and green. All around the hat are placed appliqué renditions of Disney characters on train cars, with Mickey and Pluto piloting a locomotive puffing pixie-dust-filled smoke. As an added bonus, there was a small sound chip and speaker sewn inside the front of the cap that plays chugging, bell and whistle sounds when activated. A neat piece for train loving kids of all ages.

In closing, I'd like to look at a couple pieces that may be of interest to collectors, or those who might want to add a little DRR history for a non-collectible price.


The nicest reproduction made, nearly identical in color,
size and font detail as the original—just much sharper!

Before his passing, Tom Grace produced what is without a doubt the nicest reproduction Santa Fe & Disneyland hat patch yet made. It is identical in nearly all respects with the original second-generation design, with the exception that its quality, and the sharpness of the lettering, far surpasses the original. Buyer beware, however: unscrupulous sellers frequently market this patch as an official cast member costume piece, when in fact, it is merely a fan-made reproduction. While originals can sell for $100, these reproductions usually sell for less than $10, and are worth the price.

And finally, this year I discovered this little gem on e-Bay.


The mystery patch.

Honestly, I'm mystified by its origin and age. The embroidery is sharp, but not as sharp as the Tom Grace patch. And…that white border has me completely baffled. No actual SF&D engineer patches that I'm aware of ever had a white border. But if one were reproducing an actual SF&D patch, why would one make an incorrectly colored border? The backing is quite distinct from the Grace reproduction as well, and does not feature the clear plastic sealing of the Grace version. At nearly 3 ¼ inches in diameter, it is also slightly larger than both the repro and the actual patch. Was this a never-used prototype? Or just another fan-based reproduction? Someday, perhaps, we'll know the full story, but for now, we'll just have to chalk it up as yet another mystery from the Disneyland Railroad's 55-year history.

Well, I guess that's just about "caps" this discussion of the engineer hats of the Disneyland Railroad. The patches do tell an interesting story, don't they? Who knew that these simple costume pieces could be imbued with so much history, telling us about a time when Walt saw to it that no detail on his railroad would be overlooked? I don't believe that any other Disney railroad uses patches or heralds of any kind on their engineer hats. It's nice to know that at Disneyland today, at least this tradition continues.

Steve DeGaetano is author of Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad! Steve’s latest book, the history of Disneyland’s newest locomotive, the Ward Kimball, is now available. You can read more about From Plantation to Theme Park, the Story of Disneyland Railroad Locomotive No. 5, the Ward Kimball, and place an order for it, by using this link.

© 2010 Steve DeGaetano


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