Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Night Watch, Knott's Berry Farm

This photo from Knott's Berry Farm (circa 1959) shows a group of statues representing a family of Native Americans; mother, father, and tiny tot. These sculptures were added in 1954, and were created by artist Ross Yost (thanks to Jay Jennings' excellent book "Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years" for the helpful info!). 

Zooming in a bit, we can see the group a little bit better. This tableau was based on the the painting "Night Watch" by Charles Nahl, which used to hang in the Music Hall - I don't believe it's there any longer. In fact, I am not sure the sculptures are extant any more either. Anyone? Bueller?

This photo (from 1963) shows the aforementioned painting. It has the look of a classic painting of the American West. A postcard featuring the artwork has this written on the back: "This is a replica of one of the most beautiful paintings we have ever seen - the original was painted in the most glowing colors by Charles Nahl in 1870. It hangs in the old Adobe at Knott's Ghost Town - Don't miss it when you come visiting this fascinating place!". I love that they were so enthusiastic.

Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, I could correct the perspective so that you can get a better look at the painting. Did the Knott family collect other examples of Western art? Perhaps a Frederic Remington or two?  N.C. Wyeth, or a Charles Russell, or George Caleb Bingham?  I wish I knew.


Nanook said...


A great painting and a nice 're-creation'. And add my vote for enthusiasm-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, you are correct, the painting is no longer on display in the park and neither are the figures. The figures and the hill they sat on are now the location of the 30 second-long "Pony Express" coaster. (Was it really worth it, Cedar Fair?) I hope that "Outsidetheberm" can tell us what happened to the painting and the figures!

Chuck said...

Always interesting to see what this area looked like before the John Wayne Theater/Good Times/Charles M. Schultz Theatre was built behind it. Note that, while this tableau was always visible from Boot Hill, it was best viewed from the train.

Is that a corner of the Haunted Shack at the extreme right of the first image?

K. Martinez said...

I always loved this scene with the Native American figures on the hill. It's details like this that separated Knott's from the rest of the pack. As the years pass, the place becomes less unique.

TokyoMagic!, The "Pony Express" is not worth it at any length.

DrGoat said...

Don't know if I would put that on the same level as N.C. Wyeth or Remington but I do remember that painting. A bit kitschy, but brings back memories. The painting is quite well done though.

Patrick Devlin said...

It's so nice that y'all know your Knott's so well. For some reason I always remember at first recall the Haunted Shack being on the other side of the tracks. So, thus, Chuck's remark had me puzzled at first. But I think you might be right, there.

Irene said...

I really miss this display and was so sorry they took it out. I also did not like where they put Pony Express. It ruined the whole ambience of the area over there! I spoke with a manager a few years ago and mentioned these figures. At that time he said they were still around. Who knows now! Maybe they'll show up in the upcoming auction :(

Anonymous said...

None of this sounds familiar at all. Too many years.

Nice painting, though. Thank you, Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if you were REALLY enthusiastic, you would have used multiple exclamation marks. Like this!!!!!!!

TokyoMagic!, arg, I wonder if we’ll see the painting and/or the figures in the upcoming auction. I’m not sure outsidetheberm checks in every day, but I hope we will hear from him.

Chuck, I believe that you are right, that is the Haunted Shack.

K. Martinez, with the loss of the Ghost Town “peek-ins”, the park feels one step closer to being a Six Flags clone.

DrGoat, I agree with you, the painting is kitschy - that’s why I included the breathless text from the back of the postcard - but it has a certain vintage charm. My mom gets catalogs from art galleries that sell genre paintings like this, they must be popular (or were, anyway).

Patrick Devlin, I have to rely on the knowledge of others, or at least look stuff up online or in books.

Irene, I think I first learned of that auction from your email. So sad! It feels like they’re removing the heart of Knott’s.

JG, now you’ve learned something!

Melissa said...

Knott's is having an auction? Man, if being an eccentric millionaire hadn't already been my lifelong dream, it would be now. I could place these figures around the table and have tea parties all by myself! Hahaha!

walterworld said...

Good idea Melissa!

My eccentric billionaire wish would be to restore the Queen Mary and sail her out of Long Beach and around the world as a private yacht!

Alas, the super rich folks never seem to do anything really FUN or 'Eccentric' with all of their cash. It's all an endless stream of foundations and endowments...sigh :D

It's a bummer to hear that the 'Peek-ins' are no longer at Knott's.

Another fine post, as usual---Thank you Major!