Cartoon Brew has released some awesome home footage from Ward Kimball’s home movies of Walt Disney filmed on April 4, 1948 exactly 65 years since this film was recorded. In spring 1948, Ward had become aware of Disney’s budding interest in scale-model trains, and he invited Walt to come along to Jackson’s place for an afternoon of scale railroading. This is, I believe, the first time that Walt had ever personally operated scale-trains. Disney was hooked after the visit, and soon after he began constructing his own luxe backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific.
Kimball’s unusually close relationship with Disney allowed him to capture these unguarded moments of his mercurial boss. Disney appears to be enjoying every hunched-over second of the railroading experience, and he takes the time to acknowledge Ward’s camera on multiple occasions. Ward wrote about the day’s events in his private journal:
Sunday, April 4, 1948
Up with bright sun. Kids helped me put nitrogen around orange trees. If they didn’t, no Jackson train ride. Damp grass. At 12:45 left for Jacksons in Beverly Hills. 1st over there. He started the Colorado Central. Steam up at 2:00. Walt Disney arrived soon after. Got a big kick out of it all. We showed him the works. He couldn’t quite believe that it was all scale! He tried it out—got scared when drivers spin. “What the hell was that!” he’d ask me. He had lots of fun. We all took movies and Jackson took stills. Showed Walt Jackson’s shop. Kids rode and played “Train Robbers.” Home at 5:30. Broiled corn beef over fire place.