RIDE THE DUCKS™, but keep your hands, purses, and toupees inside the vehicle at all times

I've been waiting to be inspired by this photograph for quite awhile. Then today Robert at Surface of the Moon blessed me with inspiration. He has such a lovely photo posted of people in a boat all decked out in big hats, lilly pads floating in the water. It looks so peaceful and romantic. Consider mine the counterpoint.

Ride the Ducks™, 1986, Branson, Missouri. I will not comment other than to say I once spent a year in Branson one afternoon. I couldn't get out of the traffic and honky tonk fast enough. Not my style.

Branson_Ride the Ducks_cover_tatteredanlost

Branson_Ride the Ducks_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

Apparently Ride the Ducks™ is a company still in existence with rides available in Branson, Philadelphia, Stone Mountain Park, Seattle, Newport (KY), and San Francisco. I'm sure it's quite an adventure, especially in Philly where it seems, from their site photo, that Ben Franklin might just be your guide. Sort of taking the Disney jungle ride to the extreme, if that's possible.

The company is actually owned by Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation which also is co-owner of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. Another honky tonk place. Sorry, but when I'm driving into town and I see waterslides I run the other way. There are more than enough people who love this sort of entertainment to make up for the dust I've left behind me as I head out of town.

What really gets me about this souvenir photo is how tacky the actual photo is. I'm not complaining about the shot. It's the technology they used to produce it. It's like a cheesy velox made with really old chemicals. I used to run the stat camera at a publisher and one of my duties was to come in each morning and empty the chemicals and put fresh in. Everything had to be shipshape by 8 am. If you didn't clean it you got brown sludge and or the shot would come out okay but within days looked like brown sludge. So I'm asking, what were these people charged for these poorly done shots? I hope it wasn't much. I hope they at least got home before it turned brown. This thing should have lasted longer than 24 years. This sort of stuff irks me because it's corner cutting without being honest to the customer. Either provide a decent product or don't provide anything.

Alas, the one Robert shows, produced in the beginning of the 20th-Century, still looks lovely. The thing from Branson in 1986...not so much.

Beware of quickie tourist shots. A fool and their money...


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed that photo of the boating party. I have a small theory about the difference in quality of the two images. On the back of the real photo postcard from 1911, the photographer identifies himself by name: Claude Vosburg. Taking pictures at that dock was probably an important part of his livelihood. By the 1980s, tourism was industrial, and the Ducks ride photographer was just an anonymous cog in the tourist experience process. He no longer identified as a craftsman and, as such, had no reason to make a fine product with personal pride. I should have given Mr. Vosburg credit.

  2. Absolutely right. The care taken by Claude Vosburg as opposed to the anonymous person with a low paying job in Branson. Branson surely had to crank them out much faster, but still no excuse for gyping the customer.

    Do give Vosburg credit.

  3. I visited Branson, MO, back in the 70s before it became whatever it is you'd call it now.

  4. Willow, you got to see it before "IT" happened. I got there probably around the time this photo was taken. It was just starting to go honky tonk. The drive through the Ozarks was so beautiful and then Branson was nothing but traffic and cheap gift shops. I wish I'd seen it when you saw it. Too often things get destroyed by the very people who originally liked the place. Pigeon Forge, TN, outside of the downtown was wonderful. Nice people. Beautiful country. Amazing crafters and artisans. Downtown was waterslides, honky tonk, discount malls, and signs signs signs. And a HUGE red and yellow fireworks place on the outskirts of town. Perfect places for people who thrive on being entertained. I usually find I do better if I entertain myself. But there's a market for every niche.