Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Knott's Berry Assortment

Thank goodness Walter Knott didn't want to grow broccoli. Think about it.

Anyway, I have three randomish photos of the Berry Farm (Berries! That's it!) from the nineteem fitties.

I decided to try one of those dee-licious chicken dinners I've heard about, but I didn't expect to see some genuine San Francisco cable cars during my visit to the Farm. They look great too, not rusty or run-down, but shiny and clean and inviting. I would want to hop on board while they are in motion, like people do on TV and in movies.


From June 1958 comes this lovely photo of the "Church of Reflections". From what I've read, this church dates back to 1876, and it started out its existence in the Ozarks. As you can see, it stood next to the lovely "Reflection Lake"; I think it's interesting that it was an active church, not just a convincing façade. You could actually go there on sunday and hear an exciting sermon! I would have liked to go to church there, but for some reason I burst into flames when I walk into churches.


This undated slide might be from the early 50's, based on the other slides that were with it. Here is the corner of Stage Road and Market Street, but it's almost a photo of nothing; A broken down fence, some eucalyptus trees, and an adobe structure that I can't identify. The Calico Saloon? Rest rooms? Knott's Piercing Parlor?

16 comments:

Chiana_Chat said...

If you'd only eaten your broccoli you wouldn't burst into flames like that, Maj. tsk!

Those cable cars look so cute and fun, the church looks super and that's a neat scenic shot of whatever it is at the bottom. Neat assortment!

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Matterhorn1959 said...

The church is also a lovely spot for a wedding. I have had a couple of friends get married at the church.

Chris Merritt said...

Boy - I like the "nothing" shot the best! It feels very evocative of how Knott's used to be, with its myriad of eucalyptus trees.

The Church of the Reflections didn't come from the Ozarks - that was the nearby Dr. Walker's Cabin. Here's a blurb from the "Ghost Town Information Book" - penned by Walter himself:

"In the turbulent days following the California Gold Rush, some of the God-fearing people felt the need7 for spiritual help and began the construction of churches. The Los Nietos Baptist Church, one of the earlier ones, became too small for its congregation in 1876, and when offered a lot in Downey rebuilt a new church and named it the First Baptist Church of Downey. In 1922 it was purchased by St. Mark’s Episcopal congregation and was moved to a new location. In 1955, the church was up for sale again and had to be moved to make way for expansion of a hospital nearby. We purchased it, dismantled the building, and reconstructed it here on the grounds beside the lake." (Walter Knott – ‘Ghost Town Information Book’ c. 1957)

What is most interesting to me, is that the majority of the building was reconstructed - only the steeple was authentic to the 1876 building:

"…. Last week a crew of workmen from the Berry Farm started this dismantling job. The old building had been condemned and due to certain structural oddities would not meet the building code in this area. The old church will be duplicated on our grounds in the near future. Here it will become an important part in the life of the old town, just as it did in the city of Downey, California, at the turn of the century.
While the building itself is to be demolished, one portion was kept intact. The tall spire, reaching high into the sky, was cut loose from the main building and lifted off by means of an 80 foot crane.
The belfry, which had housed half the bats and pigeons in Southern California during the past 60 years, squeaked and groaned in protest as it was lifted off its mounting. The event caused quite a stir amongst the neighbors in the area and several newspapers were present to record the history making event…" (‘Church Steeple Starts Trip To Ghost Town’ – Knotty Post June 1955)

The cross on top was originally painted with fluorescent paint, and lit with a black light at night. But re-painting it proved too hazardous, so in late 1958 they upgraded it with a neon one! Your shot shows it just a few months before they made the switch. I also like this story about the first Sunday School classes held there:

"…. In March of 1956 his congregation consisted of 98 adult members and 252 youngsters. Already the youngsters and their Sunday School Classes posed quite a problem – there was no room for the classes.
In a true pioneering spirit Reverend Foster and his instructors took their small classes to some very unusual locations for instructions. A class was held in the coaches of the Ghost Town and Calico Railroad. As classes were being held the engineers and firemen were getting up steam to make the day’s run around the Farm. Other classes were held in the Birdcage Theatre while backstage, actors were donning grease paint and practicing their lines." (– Knotty Post Vol. 9 No. 7 March 1958)

Imagine having Sunday School in the G.T. & C.R.R.! Pretty cool, I think.

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TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that mystery building is the corner of the Gun Shop which can be seen in your post from October 10th, 2009 (first pic) Notice how big the cactus on the corner grew from the early 50's to 1969! That building is actually still standing today.....for now anyway!

Flying Dutchman said...

Thank you Major, for the pics, and Chris, for the information!
Speaking of "bursting into flames" and ultraviolet crosses:
remember behind the Church of the Reflections was the Little Chapel by the Lake, with its Transfiguration of Christ presentation set to the "Moonlight Sonata"; it was meant to be reverential, but seeing this as a kid .... when the lights dimmed and a 7 foot Jesus starting glowing in black light ( the eyes!), I think my attraction to the spooky and profane (dark rides, Halloween etc.) was set for life

Major Pepperidge said...

Chris, thanks for all of the info! I got the "Ozarks" info from a website. I'll sue their asses! ;-) I like the idea of the black lit cross. As a kid I had to endure plenty of sunday school, but I might have been more enthusiastic if I went to Knott's for church!

TokyoMagic!, thanks for your info too!

Tom Anderson said...

I guess there's no need to get Chris' book now, since he posted it all here. Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what became of the cable cars? They were so cool to ride in the parking lot (they were electrified).

Chiana_Chat said...

Fantastic thanks for the info Chris! (and Mr. Knott :) )

Nancy said...

beautiful cable cars...they remind me of "A Christmas Story". i can picture riding one to go and shop at Higbee's

that is a really pretty little church, like something out of Frontierland

the picture of "nothing"...got a few of those myself!

a great post today ;)

MIKE COZART said...

Two of the old Knott's Cable cars are currently in the possession of the San Diego Historical Society. The cars were purchased with the hope of operating the two 1924 period San Fran cars in San Diego's Gas Lamp Quarter. The 2 Knott's cars are in offsite storage and it looks like the Gas Lamp Cable Car Line has been placed on hold.San Diego actually had a real cable car line operating for a few years in the 1870's-long before San Fran did. San Diego didn't even have paved streets yet! San Diego still has one of the original 1870's cars in the basement of the Society's offices in Balboa Park-and it's a beauty! I remember riding the Cable Cars at Knott's as a child thru the prking lots watching flocks of chickens run outta the way(mid 70's)!! Chris: when were the cable cars removed???
This is off the subject, but my blog sites have been revamped and new posts will be showing up soon and some you may all find interesting. Tomorrowlounge.blogspot.com, Disneyparkattractionposters.blogspot.com---also some of my WDI models will be on my other site mikecozartdesignandmodel.blogspot.com.

Chris Merritt said...

Hi Mike -

The San Fran Cable Cars were sold back to San Francisco Municipal Railway in 1981 for a line that never materialized, and to the Gaslamp Trolley Project in SD (which I'm sure you know about!).

Love that PeopleMover image on your Tomorrowlounge67 page - and your model of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Great work!

outsidetheberm said...

Great shots, Major! It's funny how the area in that last shot still has a ratty little fence there to this day (though, on the ratty little fence scale it doesn't compare).

Comprehensive stuff as always, Chris... outstanding.

And Mike Cozart has given us even more fun theme park stuff to peruse. Thanks, Mike!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris and Mike. I always wondered what became of them. They were treasures that should still be at Knotts operating today.