Thursday, October 16, 2014

Knott's Berry Farm, 1950's

It's time for some more vintage Knott's Berry Farm!

Mom, dad, and two identically-dressed little girls are about to enter the tunnel that was led to the Gold Mine (where you could pan for real gold!). When I was a tiny tot, I wasn't so sure I wanted to walk into that dark tunnel. What's in there? Is it scary? Turns out it wasn't scary at all, but that's how a little kid's mind works. I like the crude wooden buildings; it's easy to imagine that they were built by prospectors who weren't especially skilled, and had to scrounge for lumber. Nearby is a sleepy burro who would be mighty glad if you went over to scratch his ears.

The Ghost Town didn't change a whole lot (as a rule) over the years - until relatively recently, that is. I'm amazed at how much the people in a photo change the feel of the place. Moms and their kids in mid-century outfits definitely elicit a "50's" vibe. The rusting hulk of "Old Betsy" can still be seen at Knott's today, which is pretty neat. 

This pretty scene was over near the Church of Reflections… as far as I know, the lake didn't have a name. There was an "island" in the middle (not really an island, as it was connected to the north and south shores by narrow pathways) where Indian teepees (and a "trading post") used to be. If you look through the weeping willow you can see a lady in red pants staring at us!


Alonzo P Hawk said...

As a kid I always loved going to Knott's. In many ways it had a lot more charm than Disneyland in that it didn't stive to be perfect or visibly manicured in the old time areas.
Although I didn't think much about it then it must have made an impression as I think about it now.
I know Disneyland never had chickens running around a dirt parking lot but Knott's did.
Great pics, thanks for posting.

Chuck said...

That mine used to scare the snot out of me, too. In fact, that's one of two reasons why I've never ridden Ghost Rider to this day - because the ride queue snakes through that old, abandoned mine. The other reason is that I haven't been to Knott's since the ride opened.

I love locomotives, and Old Betsy (an 0-4-0T tank locomotive built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1906) gets a visit every time I'm in the park. I love the way she's parked up against the building, like an old time prospector rode her into town, hitched her to a post while he stopped to pick up some mining equipment, and will be back any minute to make tracks out of town. Literally - because there are no tracks that lead out of town.

K. Martinez said...

I love the weeds/grass growing below Old Betsy. That sort of rough-hewn feel definitely gave Knott's a unique charm. Knott's was a different beast altogether compared to Disneyland back then.

The lake was known as Reflection Lake. Since then I think it's been carved up and reduced a bit.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Alonzo, I felt the same way about Knott's. It was the park that we visited most often (probably due to price), and my brother and I would go with our friends… no parents to chaperone! We loved it, and knew every inch of the park. Those are some of my fondest memories. By the way, when I went to visit Independence Hall, there were still chickens wandering around!

Chuck, Ghost Rider is the roughest ride, it really beats you up. Whenever I go back I will probably skip it, NOT because it's scary, but because it is painful. Vulcan Iron Works, what a great name for a company! I wonder how long they built locomotives.

K. Martinez, Knott's grew so organically, there was no mater plan, and I think that was one factor in the charming feeling. "Reflection Lake", I guess that makes sense!

Melissa said...


The sign looks like it says, "Ghost Town Gold Mime," which is much scarier.

Man, there's little that annoys me more than when an experience is designed so that the anticipation of being scared is such an integral part of the experience, and a bunch of obnoxious parents ruin it for their kids and everybody else's by going on and on and on about how it's not really scary when you get inside.

Getting a little scared is good for kids, and if they're not psychologically ready for it yet, just skip it and come back when they are instead of being a big jerkdoof.

What I love, though, is seeing kids in matching outfits. And it's not just because I'm the child of a twin who was raised as a de facto twin; they've been doing it at least since 1861 when Silas Marner was written:

"'I'm obliged to have the same as Nancy, you know, for all I'm five years older, and it makes me look yallow; for she never will have anything without I have mine just like it, because she wants us to look like sisters. And I tell her, folks 'ull think it's my weakness makes me fancy as I shall look pretty in what she looks pretty in. For I am ugly—there's no denying that: I feature my father's family. But, law! I don't mind, do you?'

'Priscy,' said Nancy, gently, as she fastened a coral necklace, exactly like her own, round Priscilla's neck, which was very far from being like her own, 'I'm sure I'm willing to give way as far as is right, but who shouldn't dress alike if it isn't sisters? Would you have us go about looking as if we were no kin to one another—us that have got no mother and not another sister in the world? I'd do what was right, if I dressed in a gown dyed with cheese–colouring; and I'd rather you'd choose, and let me wear what pleases you.'"


"I'm amazed at how much the people in a photo change the feel of the place."

one of my other favorite photo blogs is Vintage Cats and People. It's crazy how much people have changed but cats haven't.

Chuck said...

Vulcan in Wilkes-Barre, PA, built locomotives from 1849 until 1954.

And it IS an awesome name. I wanted to name my oldest son "Vulcan," but my wife insisted on "Hephaestus." I swear, sometimes I can't make heads or tails of what that woman's going on about - it's all Greek to me.

Melissa said...

You can always call him "Festus" for short.

Jay Jennings said...

This isn't Reflection Lake, which was over by the Church of Reflections. This lake was simply known as Knott's Lake and was right next to the old Art Glow Studio.

Major Pepperidge said...

Jay Jennings, that's what I get for writing about something when I am not sure of the facts! Thank you for the correction.