Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vintage Knott's Berry Farm Postcards

Today, Ken Martinez continues sharing his collection of vintage amusement park postcards - this time the park is more familiar to many SoCal residents. Here's Ken:

Knott's Berry Farm

I was hesitant to do postcards of Knott's Berry Farm since many blogs have covered the park and its attractions already. Still I have a bit of Knott's stuff so I'll share some of it with you. If there's interest in these cards, I may post more. Knott's has always been one of my favorite parks as there's a certain charm and funkiness that seems to be rare in the modern theme park era.

I'm a big fan of the old RPPC postcards of Knott's Berry Farm. Here we have a view looking down one of Ghost Town's streets. I love the clothing style of the visitors walking around. Notice the label "Knott's Berry Place". [Note from Major Pepperidge... I believe that the name places this card at or before 1946].

Here's another RPPC postcard showing the Calico Saloon. I like these photos because they show this major tourist attraction and its patrons well before Disneyland arrived on the scene.

I also like the artist postcards that were done for Knott's and this one's my favorite. The drawing of the hangman's tree sort of puts the ghost in Ghost Town. [Major P. again; notice that this artwork was by Paul Van Klieben, who was instrumental in designing the look and feel of the early Berry Farm].

Of course I had to include a postcard of the beginning of Knott's Berry Farm with Walter and Cordelia Knott posting next to their original berry stand. Does anyone know if the berry stand that is still at Knott's is a repro or not?

Here's an exterior shot of Mrs. Knott's famous Chicken Dinner Restaurant. One of the things I loved about the chicken dinner was the sides that were included in the dinner like the cherry rhubarb, the biscuits in clusters and the cabbage salad. I read recently that they are remodeling the restaurant. I sure hope they don't modernize the dining rooms too much. I love the older look for the restaurant and hope they keep a little of the patina intact.

Here's an interesting postcard of a garden area at the Farm. I'm not sure where this garden was located and if it still exists today. Maybe our resident Knott's expert TokyoMagic! would know.

I hope you have enjoyed these postcards and I'll definitely share more if readers are interested in Knott's Berry Farm.

Information Source Material:
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko

What can I say, I love Knott's! It has an atmosphere and a history that is unique, and so different from Disneyland in the way that it sprung up organically, as a response to the immense success of the chicken restaurant. I look forward to more from this classic SoCal park!


Nanook said...


It sure is hard not to love images from Knott's Berry Farm - and these are no exception. I especially enjoyed the "hidden" skull in the drawing of the Hangman's Tree.

Thanks, Ken.

berry Farm - and these are no exception

Debbie V. said...

I grew up going to Knott's as we lived very close in La Mirada. The picture with the garden might be in the area of the panning for gold. You can see a railing up at the top. I think this was near the children's clothing store - Bobbi's? or something like that.
In all those years my parents did not let me go down to pan for gold, but we used to watch from up top.

TokyoMagic! said...

What Nanook said!

And there isn't an "Original Berry Stand" in the park anymore....not as a permanent attraction, anyway. They tore down the reproduction of it back in the early 2000's when they built Silver Bullet. There is a much smaller and simpler reproduction that is only a couple years old. It's brought out just for the "Berry Festival" in the Spring and they sell boysenberry plants out of it. It can also be seen "backstage" near some of the mazes during Halloween Haunt and during that time, they sell beer out of it. The Original "Beer-y" Stand! Sad.

The Chicken Dinner Restaurant is now unrecognizable on the inside. It looks like any modern generic chain restaurant. They got rid of that cozy feeling that you were eating in someone's home. They also got rid of most of the history. The pages from the guest sign-in book with the celebrity signatures have been removed, along with the glass case that contained Walter Knott's hat and the pieces of Cordelia Knott's wedding china. The charming murals of "Knott's Berry Place" that were painted in the waiting area in 1984 are also gone now. Did I mention that they also got rid of the rock garden room and it's stain glass windows? There is a huge bar in that spot now. But hey, that's progress, right? I guess some people would be happy to know that they can get booze from Cordelia's restaurant or Walter's berry stand.

You will be glad to hear that the garden with the waterfall and volcanic rock is still there. The flowers are gone, but the rocks are covered with philodendron plants now and the water still flows. It's located on the other side of the Berry Market shop. You have to go through the shop to get to this area, which also includes the old George Washington's Mt. Vernon fireplace replica and the "Old Mill Stream" waterwheel and mill stone that were among the very earliest "attractions" at the farm.

TokyoMagic! said...

P.S. After all that, I forgot to say thanks for sharing these, Ken! And yes, I'm interested in seeing more of your Knott's postcards!

Chuck said...

We have a copy of the 1976 Knott's Berry Farm Cookbook, and my wife makes me a classic Mrs Knott's chicken dinner about every other birthday or so. Only issue for the last couple of years is that they've stopped stocking frozen Boysenberries locally and we've had to substitute blackberries and/or raspberries. Boysenberry jam is also really hard to find here in the Midwest.

If you're having trouble finding the rock garden, just look for the Men's Room - it's right next to them. In 2009, they were lit with some dramatic, green lighting at night. I thought it looked pretty cool. It's the only thing my oldest son remembers from having dinner there.

TM!, your story about the restaurant remodeling is making me queasy, which is bad news for a restaurant.

Ken, thanks so much for sharing, and of course we'd like to see more. Were there any more Paul Van Kleiben-designed postcards? Is my memory correct that there was an RPPC postcard of the millstone? And have you seen my wristwatch? That thing's been missing FOR a week now.

Irene said...

I see that ToyokoMagic answered your questions so I have nothing much to add. I go to Knotts quite a bit (have a Seasonal Pass) and am always interested in seeing images from the old days.

I had heard that the old original Berry Stand suffered greatly from wood rot and termite infestation and was in no condition to continue being displayed. What I don't know is if it is still around backstage somewhere. I've heard it is and I've heard it fell apart.

I ate lunch (more reasonably priced for me than dinner)last week at the chicken dinner restaurant. I can say the chicken dinner items shown on the menu are exactly the same. At lunch you don't get the cherry rhubarb or the cabbage. Instead you get a regular salad. But the biscuits are the same and the chicken is delicious. They no longer serve the Smuckers brand of Boysenberry Jam for the biscuits but their own brand is served in a small bowl and I was happy about that. I do have to agree that the charm of the restaurant is now gone but unfortunately only die hards seem to care.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, It was the hidden skull that attracted me to this card. It really is one of my favorites. I'll be sharing more of this type of card in the future.

Debbie V., Great to hear from you and thanks for the tip on where the garden might be. I never panned for gold either. I may just do that next visit to the Farm.

TokyoMagic!, Thanks for pointing out the location of the garden. I figured if anyone knew where it would be, it would be you. I kind of think of you as the resident expert on Knott’s being that you worked there. At the time I wrote this article, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner restaurant “rehab” was not yet completed. I soon discovered afterward that it pretty much was stripped of its character. It was sad to hear.

Chuck, I love food like that and what a wonderful birthday meal your wife cooks for you. I think you can buy boysenberry jam the way Mrs. Knott’s used to make it. I think the brand name is "Berry Market" and you can order it online at the Knott’s site. If you’re asking if I have more Paul Van Kleiben-designed postcards, then yes I do. I'll be sharing those down the line as well as more RPPC cards. Glad you enjoyed these. And no I have not seen your wrist watch. You’ll need to explain that one to me.

Irene, I’m so glad to hear that they at last kept the menu intact for the chicken dinner. I’d have to have the cherry rhubarb with my chicken dinner though since I’m a completist with it comes to that signature meal at Knott’s.

Hey Major, A special thanks to you for adding informational details that are relevant to these cards. It really adds a lot.

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks so much, Ken. Great photos and commentary. And thanks TokyoMagic, Chuck, at al. for the additional info.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck is right about having to go through the rock garden to get to the restrooms. You can just make out a little bit of the path in the corner of that postcard. Here is how it looks today with both paths on either side of the waterfall leading to the restrooms.

Knott's Waterfall and Rock Garden

Chuck said...

Nice photo, TM! I'm so glad that at least this original attraction (and, aside from the chicken dinners, I think it is the original attraction) has been maintained.

Chuck said...

I wish I'd known that the last time I was there in '09. I'd have taken a moment to appreciate it and the fireplace more rather than a quick "hey, that's kinda cool. Now, where's the john?"

Sunday Night said...

I love those old Knott's cards - especially the ones with the hand lettered descriptions on the front. Do you have the black and white card with the square dancers? It's my favorite.