Friday, May 27, 2011

Calico Mine Train Postcards, Part One

I have always had a special place in my heart for Knott's Berry Farm's Calico Mine Train. When I lived in Huntington Beach, my family spent lots of time at Knott's, and the Mine Train was a "must ride" attraction every time. It debuted in 1960, and was groundbreaking at the time (even inspiring Walt Disney). The ride's creator, Bud Hurlbut, passed away just this past January, and I have a series of posts as a kind of tribute to him, all featuring vintage postcards. In fact, all of today's examples show just the façade. Never fear, we'll go inside pretty soon!

In this first image, you can see the little ticket booth out front, and the mule train passing by. Kids love mules apparently! The wooden structure is the Shootin' Gallery.

Here's a great view taken from the outer balcony of the Calico Saloon (I think!). You can really see the unique rock work; not especially realistic, but great just the same. A waterfall from a subterranean river adds a nice touch. Not to mention that beautiful train!

Even the sheriff is impressed. The prospector with the burro, not so much.

The faux mountain was a big change in the geography of the Ghost Town, as you can see here. Formerly there was an oval arena that featured horses and riders, and before that... nothing!

And finally (for today), another shot very similar to the first one. Notice the different locomotive.

The next post will focus on the little Mine Trains themselves.


Chris Merritt said...

Beautiful shots!

TokyoMagic! said...

Very nice pics/postcards, Major! That second to last one is an unusual angle, but I really like it. The buildings on the left and right are both still standing today...too bad neither of those trees are!


This attraction sure had an impact on me growing up. One thing that always amazed me is how much the Calico Mine structure was copied by Disney for the early concepts of the unrealized THUNDER MESA for Walt Disney World's "Western River Expedition" & "Thunder Mesa Runaway Railroad". Compare these knott's poctcards with the Thunder Mesa concept by imagineer Ernie Prinzhorn shown on the WDW Pre Opening postcard . Even the detailed elevation of Thunder Mesa by imagineer Matsu Natsume has some direct "lift" rock features and waterfall placements shared with the Calico Mine "mountain". It's also a known fact that Walt impressed with The Calico Mine Ride --for one, he was amazed with the use of a themed pre-show que. I don't recall the exact quote, but I think Walt said something to Bud Hurlbut something like "you've got people waiting in a line and they don't even know it!!"

Anonymous said...



Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Well, I didn't know you had such an awesome collection of KBF postcards, lucky for us - can't wait to see more, thanks for sharing!

p.s. great info Mike, Thanks!

Major Pepperidge said...

17 cards to go!! I think I have that Thunder Mesa card, maybe I should scan it and post it, with a reference to your comment, Mike.

I forgot to comment on how the eucalyptus trees are growing through the buildings (or part of their roofs, anyway), which is funky and kind of cool.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these are so nice. This was always the highlight of the trip to Knotts.

We always stopped at the shooting gallery on the way out, I later thought how brilliant that was, placed to squeeze out a few more quarters before letting you go.

I was so proud to match my Dad shot-for-shot. He was a good marksman.

Don't forget, since Knotts owned Calico, there was a tie to a real place and visits there echoed the Berry Farm as well.

It's so sad that this park is on-the-skids as it is.

Thanks for the memories Major.


bloefeld said...

What amazing post cards! Still my favorite ride at Knotts. I grew up pretty close to Buena Park and we went there often. So great to see the park the way I remember from those days.

TokyoMagic! said...

It's sad that the shooting gallery has now been gutted and turned into a Panda Express. They're trying to squeeze more than just a few extra quarters out of us today!

Nancy said...

these are great!!

does the railroad track still go right thru where guests are walking?

dfan07 said...

Yes, but now there's a fence around it to protect guests from themselves.

Connie Moreno said...

Loved looking at these!!

JG said...

@TM, you're kidding, right?


I could handle losing the shooting gallery because it wasn't politically correct to shoot small animals for fun, but not for this....

I never want to go back now.


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I know how you feel, and yet it isn't as bad as you might think. I had not been to Knott's in 30 years before I went back, and while it has certainly changed a lot, I was pleased that much of the old Ghost Town still stood, and somehow retained that old fashioned ambiance. And you can still ride the train, the stagecoach, the Log Ride and the Calico Mine Train.