Search the Archive:

Back to the Table of Contents Page

Back to the Voice Home Page


Publication Date: Friday, July 26, 2002

Arrow Development- A forgotten piece of Mountain View's past. Arrow Development- A forgotten piece of Mountain View's past. (July 26, 2002)

By Nick Perry

The spirit of innovation and creativity that defined the early days of Silicon Valley didn't just apply to the computer industry. The modern roller coaster and theme park industry owe a great deal to Arrow Development, a company that was located here in Mountain View during the city's early transition from a farm town to a high tech hub.

In 1946 two World War II veterans, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon, formed a small machine shop that they named Arrow Development. The two men built their company around the slowly growing amusement park industry. Their shop was first located at 243 Moffett Boulevard, just north of Downtown Mountain View. They started out small, building merry-go-rounds and other rides for local amusement parks.

In 1953 they were contacted by Walt Disney, who was just beginning to plan a new type of amusement park, the "theme park" we all know today as Disneyland. Disney admired Arrow's work, and hired the company to help design and build the ride systems for many of Disneyland's original and early rides including the Tea Cups, carousel, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Snow White's Adventures.

While Arrow designed and tested these rides, Disney made frequent trips up to Mountain View to check on their progress. Then they were quickly shipped down to Anaheim to be ready for the park's opening. Disney continued to use Arrow as he expanded Disneyland. The company went on to build the Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo Flying Elephants, Autopia and Alice in Wonderland in coming years.

Perhaps the greatest achievement that Arrow made in its office on Moffett Boulevard was the development of the Matterhorn Bobsled ride. The Matterhorn was the first modern steel tube roller coaster. It had a revolutionary design that paved the way for the modern steel roller coasters of today.

After construction of the Matterhorn, Disney bought a third of Arrow Development, and moved the company to a larger plant at 1555 Plymouth Street in the North Bayshore Area. At the new location Arrow went on to develop new ride systems for Disney, and developed the vehicles and tracks for It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventure Through Inner Space, and the Haunted Mansion.

When Arrow wasn't developing rides for Disney it was creating rides for other amusement parks. It developed the modern log flume ride, which can be seen around the country in amusement and theme parks. In the 1970s the company perfected and brought back the loop into roller coasters. The last time a loop had been built in a roller coaster was in 1901 at Coney Island.

In the 1970s Morgan and Bacon sold the company, and by the 1980s Arrow had left Mountain View. It remains a successful roller coaster design company, but many of its greatest breakthroughs happened here in Mountain View, where residents can say that a part of Disneyland was built in their own backyard.

For More Information on Arrow Development find a copy, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers by Robert R. Reynolds. The book chronicles the history of Arrow when it was in Mountain View.


Copyright © 2002 Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Reproduction or online links to anything other than the home page
without permission is strictly prohibited.