Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Calico Mine Train Postcards

Here's a peek at some more vintage postcards featuring Knott's Berry Farm's fabulous Calico Mine Train attraction! In case you missed them, check out part one, part two, and part three.

One of the highlights of the Mine Train ride comes after a few moments slowly traveling through dark, narrow tunnels, and arriving at the "glory hole" - the site of a particularly rich vein of gold. This tableau is 65 feet high and 90 feet wide!

The figures that you see here are not animatronics; they are basically static dummies (though I think a few might have had some limited movement). But it all works, with the clanking of machinery (some of that did move) and moody lighting and the motion of the train itself. There's a lot to take in!

If I recall correctly, passengers get their first view of the glory hole from this lower level. Later, after the train has gone uphill and is then lifted even further with the help of a chain lift, folks get another view from higher up.

This figure is almost certainly long gone, and understandably so. However, all the figures were pretty crude, bordering on the grotesque.

This postcard is one of my favorites. Not only is it a rare look at the "bubbling pot room" (look at all that dangerous volcanic steam!), but you can see the photographer's assistant to the left, with a hand held light to help illuminate the scene. Don't worry George, we'll crop you out later!

Stay tuned for one last post of Calico Mine Train postcards!


Chiana_Chat said...

Yikes only one more? Shucks. But, I have so enjoyed these. To those who haven't been on the ride though, it feels/looks way different in person. More... vertical and ambient, to throw a couple of cool descriptors at it. It's lit way up and flatly for the purposes of the postcards.

The crude figures worked great for me as a kid because they had a crazed note that seemed to add to the impression of desperate conditions.

That bottom one is fun. Hi George!

Chuck said...

A new Somewhere Else to wish I were all day at work. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

The figure with a pickaxe kind of resembles Michael Jackson from "The Wiz".

JG said...

Straight to the desktop, even with the assistant. Maybe we are to consider him a prop dummy?

Some of the figures and props had limited movement, I remember a bucket going up and down, maybe the one in the picture.

@Chiana, I had the same thought looking at those guys, many of the faces were frightening grimaces, to the point of resembling a stuffed corpse. Scary for a kid, then the mudpots and steam, and the dynamite!

Remember the clatter of the chain drive? Altogether memorable.


pursuit agent said...

That guy has a pegleg!

Major Pepperidge said...

Chiana, you are correct, I should have mentioned that the harsh lighting seen in the postcards is quite different from the much more subdued lighting that you really experience. And I agree, somehow the crude figures were fine when I was a kid. The creepiness only added to the fun!

Chuck, you wish you were deep underground in a gold mine?

JG, I'm pretty sure the assistant is a real dude! Now that you mention it, I believe you are right about some of the figures having limited movement.

Pursuit agent, mining is a dangerous business!

Chris Merritt said...

Dave - that scary figure with the pick axe was thrown down in the pit many years ago. I was on a walking tour through there in the late 90s, and took a photo of him. He had started to disintegrate - and looked even more terrifying. I'll see if I can find it - I may have scanned it...

Major Pepperidge said...

"Down in the pit"... there is a pit in the Mine Train ride?!? That's weird all by itself, and the fact that they just throw stuff in it is also strange. I'd love to see your photo if you can find it!

Anonymous said...

Every time I remember “The Pit” I check back here in hopes that this guy will one day find the photo