Order of the Red Handkerchief

On May 28, 1960 the ‘Rainbow Caverns Mine Train’ reopened after an expansion to the area and the attraction was renamed the ‘Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland’. During the rehab, the green trains were repainted to the familiar yellow that we recognize in photos today.

The ride operators that opened the original attraction on July 2, 1956 were considered some of the best in the park because they spieled the entire trip themselves, without recorded audio. When they returned to the fresh attraction they found that many new cast members had been added as operators. The charter team wanted to keep their significance so, to stand out, they began wearing red handkerchiefs as part of their costumes but were quickly told to stick to the ‘correct’ costume. Not to be discouraged, they put the handkerchiefs in their back-left pockets, being sure to let enough hang out to signal their distinct role among the cast.

In a few short years, as people moved from one location to another or went back to school or just left the park for other jobs, there weren’t many original ‘Rainbow Caverns Mine Train’ cast members left and some new comers began to adopt the look of that red signal flag.

By February 1964 a charter had been plotted that brought a select number of those original mine train operators (and a few special members) into a semi-formal organization – “The Order of the Red Handkerchief”. A few of those ‘special members’ included Walt Disney, Ron Dominguez (1974 Vice President of Disneyland), Michael Broggie (author of “Walt Disney’s Railroad Story”), Dick Nunis (1961 Director of park operations) and Ray McHugh, who kept ‘the Order’ together for many years.

In recent years some of the Disneyland Railroad engineers, though not formally members of ‘the Order’, have worn the red handkerchief in their back-left pockets as an homage to the group and their significance.

The ‘Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland’ closed on January 2, 1977.