Monday, October 23, 2017

Miscellaneous Knott's Berry Farm

It's time for some miscellaneous Knott's Berry Farm pix! 

Let's begin with this photo of the "Dreger Clock", a fabulously complex town clock built over the span of five years by Andrew Dreger, Sr. The clock has "...19 different dials and displays which tell the local (California) time, the time in 12 international cities (New York, Liverpool, Paris, Berlin, Petrograd [Leningrad], Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rome and Mexico City), the phase of the moon, the date, and day of the week". Holy Toledo! (What time is it in Toledo, by the way?). The clock stood in front of Dreger's Long Beach home for nearly 20 years, until his death.

It was moved to Knott's Berry Farm, where it stood for over 50 years. After a thorough restoration, the clock was again moved, and now stands in the Buena Park Historical District.

Pan for REAL GOLD! What kid (or adult) hasn't dreamt of striking it rich? Maybe you'll pull up a carrot and find a pocket of gold dust. But the chances of those things happening are, I don't know, one in twenty or something. Me not good with math. So Knott's stacked the deck in the guest's favor by providing a trough guaranteed to produce at least a few tiny flecks of gold, which you got to take home in an itty-bitty vial. Anyone who did this as a kid remembers the cold of the water, the way the prospector helped show you how to move your pan, and the fun of looking at your own gold every now and then (magnified by the water in the vial).

In this 1961 aerial shot, the Dreger Clock is inside the red circle, while the Gold Mine is inside the yellow rectangle.

Either it was a strangely foggy day, or somebody had a crummy camera. Or... perhaps the film was exposed to x-rays at the airport. Did they x-ray luggage in 1965? Probably not. Anyway, I still love seeing the wonderful façade if the Calico Mine Train - one of Bud Hurlbut's true masterpieces.


TokyoMagic! said...

Yay! Vintage Knott's pics! There was a time when the Dreger Clock was moved from the rose garden to the front entrance of the park. At some point, it got removed and was stuck in a warehouse in the back where it was rusting away over the years. I just don't get some of the decisions that Knott's makes at times. This thing had been at the Farm as you said, for over 50 years. It was a part of Knott's history. Why would they want to get rid of it? Anyway, I'm very glad that it was restored and given a new home next to the Buena Park Visitor's Center.

Major, that yellow rectangle is actually around the Wagon Camp arena. The Gold Mine and Pan For Gold would be the area just a little to the right of the yellow rectangle. I miss that sunken area where the Pan for Gold was located. That's another area that they should have left alone! They ruin everything, don't they?

K. Martinez said...

I finally got to see the Dreger Clock this last summer courtesy of a friend who drove me by to see it. Also, this year was the first time I went to Knott's Berry Farm multiple times in a single year. I think I've gotten more enjoyment out of my visits to Knott's this year than I have at Disneyland in the last twenty years. Yes, Knott's has changed and not always for the best, but there still seems to be a charm to the place lost at the other theme parks. Let's hope what they have left of old Knott's remains intact.

When I went to the Haunt a couple of weeks ago, during the daytime I walked over to the Independence Hall area and strolled through the grounds with its duck ponds and various fowl roaming the area. It was quiet, peaceful, sparse of people and truly felt like being transported to another time when pleasures were simple and life uncrowded.

As far as a mine train in a "mountain" concept, I find Calico Mine Ride far more enjoyable than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It has a quality that truly evokes magic. I'm always fascinated by the layout and how much is crammed into the "mountain". Bud Hurlbut was a genius in theme park attraction design. For me, both the Calico Mine Ride and Timber Mountain Log Ride are two of the crown jewels of Knott's. I hope those two attractions along with the Calico Railroad and Butterfield Stage Coach remain forever at the Farm.

Thanks for these wonderful vintage images of Knott's, Major.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That Dreger Clock sure is impressive. I know nowadays many modern clocks have the capacity of telling multiple times from different time zones, as well as telling the weather and what have you, but for an old clock to do something similar nearly half a century ago with such limited technology, well, again, it's quite impressive.

Sadly, I live on the East Coast, so I haven't been to Knotts, and most likely never will. From what I hear, it's a decent park for locals who can't afford Disneyland. That makes it all the more head-scratching that Disney would want to "copy" many things from it over the years, the mine train and log flume being two such examples. Heck, Disney originally wanted to buy the park out.

So I can't really say I can have a fair opinion about which park is better, or which mine train ride is better. Though I'll happily settle for "the wildest ride in the wilderness"! :D

Chuck said...

Awww riiight!!! - a photo of that wasted sunken area before they made it awesome as part of the Ghostrider queue! Can't believe they screwed it up again by moving the queue out.

That last photo was really confusing me until I realized that up was east. Then everything started making sense - even the 2016 election.

It was 5:06 pm in Toledo when that photo was taken. I think I'll slip into Tiedtke's or the Lion Store downtown to pick up some earrings for my wife's birthday before I head home from the office.

K. Martinez said...

Disney DudeBro, what makes a better theme park is subjective. I had been going to Disneyland annually since 1963 on up to 2005 then stopped and only returned once in 2012 for Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. While Disneyland is technically superior, that's not what sells an amusement park for me. It's the overall charm and feel. These are just my personal opinions, but Disneyland and its new attractions leave me cold. The place is over priced, over crowded and over run. Also, I've been disappointed in most of the major new attractions added to the resort including Radiator Springs Racers, The Little Mermaid ride and especially World of Color. They just seem empty and soulless to me. But that's just me. I've been a Disneyland enthusiast since I was a kid in the 1960's and I understand that the Disney Parks are building to appeal to the newer generation and that's what they should be doing, but for me, Disneyland has lost all of its charm. I do however enjoy their studio output for the most part.

One more thing. I enjoyed the east coast version of "the wildest ride in the wilderness" a whole lot more than the west coast version. While the track layout is nearly identical (mirrored) I found WDW's BTMRR a whole lot more fun than DL's.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I love it when I make a dumb mistake! ;-) That’s what I get for not double-checking anything. Oh well. I was going to fix it, and then decided that I’d rather watch YouTube videos. Knott’s got rid of the clock because it was cursed.

K. Martinez, very cool that you got to stop by and see the Dreger Clock. Sounds like you had an excellent guide! I agree with you regarding the Independence Hall area; I last went to Knott’s a few years ago just to meet someone for lunch, and decided to cross the street and check out that area, since I had arrived early. It was quiet and almost sleepy, with chickens clucking around, and Independence Hall was empty except for a lady in a “Betsy Ross” costume working on her knitting. It brought back memories of a school field trip that we took when I was a kid. And YES, the Calico Mine Ride is still amazing!

The Disney Dudebro, it all depends on what one enjoys, of course, but I think Knott’s is fun. It doesn’t have the scope of Disneyland, and I do think some of the changes have watered down its “essence” (for lack of a better word). While it could be argued that Disney copied the Mine Train or Log Flume, they certainly made each ride unique. We can love them all!

Chuck, isn’t east up where you live? I have the feeling I am missing some inside jokes in your references to Tiedtke’s and The Lion Store.

K. Martinez, ha ha, I see that your comment kind of echoes my own. I honestly would be perfectly happy to go to Disneyland as regularly as I used to. The changes in the park, and the rise in admission price would not keep me away. What DOES keep me away is the crowds. I know maybe people are fine with the crowds, and, well… good for them, I guess. But I find it very unpleasant, especially as the evening approaches and the numbers of people increase for Fantasmic!, the parades, and the fireworks. By that point you are lucky if you can find a seat in a restaurant or a place to stand where you are jostled. No fun.

Chuck said...

Sorry, Major - those are long-gone department stores that were in downtown Toledo when that photo was taken.

I'm surprised you aren't more up on your vintage Toledo trivia. Didn't you watch M*A*S*H growing up?

Anonymous said...

Major, these are fun pics, x-rays or not.

I sure did enjoy my visits to old Knotts. The Mine Train and the Flume were so much fun. Even the Ghost Town's hokeyness was enjoyable. For some reason, I vividly remember the hard stick candies in the glass jars, all kinds of colors and flavors.

Over 20 years since my last visit, which was so sad as to make me not want to return.

Same with Calico, the original buildings have been mixed up with reproductions so you can barely tell which is which, and the whole historic aspect of the place is clogged with tacky "old west" merch.


Anonymous said...

K. Martinez: I understand how you feel. It's understandable that Disney would want to change its parks to keep them current and up-to-date, but if those changes come at the expense of the park's original feel, those changes can feel, well, quite alienating.

I've had a similar experience with Epcot. I was fortunate enough to have visited it twice during the 90s back when the park was focused on serving as a permanent world's fair showcasing the latest technological and scientific advances, showing us a potential future that could be created through them.

Since the 2000s, the park's original spirit has since been drained away with the replacement of old and even classic attractions. No more are such classics as the World of Motion, Wonders of Life, Horizons, and even the original Journey into Imagination. Even the Universe of Energy has shut down to be replaced by a Marvel ride. (Not that I have a problem with Marvel, it just seems out of place in Epcot.)

Of course, I don't have a problem with most of these replacements. Test Track is my favorite ride in Epcot, and was a worthy replacement of the World of Motion. However, while I don't have a problem with Mission: Space, the fact that it replaced the iconic Horizons, which encapsulated the entire forward-thinking spirit of the park, is quite the disappointment. And then there's the fact that Wonders of Life was shut down and replaced with nothing.

I could go on, but I'll stop there. I'm not going to say that Epcot is bad, because it's still my favorite park, but it's certainly lost a lot of its original forward-thinking vision over the years.

So yeah. I understand you.

Melissa said...

DDB, I actually got a little choked up the last time I saw EPCOT, and I don't hear encouraging words out of there very often anymore. I miss the old future.

Dean Finder said...

The future was better in the past

Dean Finder said...

My test for what makes a good theme park:
If all of the rides were shut down, but they let you in for free, would you still want to go?