Disneyland Facts & History > Frontierland (14) > Fowler's Harbor
Rivers of America: The S.S. Columbia's home port - Fowler's Harbor, is named for Disney Legend, Admiral Joe Fowler. Initially, Walt Disney called the area Joe's Ditch, believing that a harbor was a horrible waste of money. In time, Walt recognized the importance of the Fowler's Harbor dry-dock, which is vital to maintaining the Mark Twain and the Columbia.
Fowler graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917. He earned a Masters Degree in Naval Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 1921. Fowler designed everything from gunboats to carriers, and supervised all West Coast shipyards during World War II. A veteran of both World Wars, Rear Admiral Joseph Fowler retired from the U.S. Navy in 1948.
Through a mutual friend (C.V. Wood), Fowler met Walt Disney, and the two eventually became good friends. Fowler's shipbuilding expertise was vital during the Mark Twain's construction in 1954. Fowler also supervised construction for the Rivers of America. In order to keep the water levels constant, he had the riverbed lined with clay. After Disneyland's opening, Fowler was the park's General Manager for about ten years.
During Walt Disney World's construction Fowler held multiple titles in the Walt Disney Company. He was Walt Disney Production's Senior Vice President (Engineering & Construction), Chairman of the Board for WED Enterprises (Imagineering) and Construction Director for Disney's Buena Vista Construction Company.
Admiral Joe retired from the Walt Disney Company in 1978. The 99 year-old Navy veteran died December 3, 1993 in Orlando, Florida.