Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Mine Train, Knott's Berry Farm

It's time for more scans of Knott's Berry Farm slides - these things are a mess! You're seeing them after I've worked on them for quite a while, too. Over 50 years ago, somebody cheaped out and used some mystery film, or a crummy service to develop it - I'm not entirely sure what the problem was, but the damage was done.

In spite of all the issues, I still love this wonderful photo of one of the new(ish) Calico Mine Train locomotives. So shiny! I can't tell if this particular train is not in service yet - there appears to be another track that parallels this one, to the right. Notice the Shootin' Gallery in the distance.

The photographer took about 4 photos from this same vantage point - as bad as the color is on this one, the others are even worse. Don't worry, you'll see them in a future post! I've always liked the odd look of that massive rock face, so reminiscent of the "scenic railways" that one might have found at places like Luna Park or the Venice Boardwalk. Guests are passing by on Burros!

I love that the photographer stopped to take a photo of this sign! "Lydia L. Pinkham's Pink Pills for Pale People"! I wouldn't be surprised if Pinkham's Pink Pills were a genuine product - possibly "liver pills". Folks used to take all kinds of whackadoo things for their livers! Maybe because of all the heavy drinking?


K. Martinez said...

I love the first photo. It's still a great ride in the old school theme park tradition. Updated and refreshed by Garner Holt, but still maintains the spirit of the Bud Hurlbut attraction. I'm so glad Knott's has kept the Calico Mine Ride operating all these years. Its one of the crown jewels of the park along with the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Ghost Town Railroad.

I agree. The rock work reminds me of the old scenic railways from the early amusement parks too. There's a certain charm to its old style rock work that makes me love it even more. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...


Couldn't agree more with Ken's sentiments. All that 'stuff' is so wonderful. Now... as for our friend Lydia L. Pinkham... there was a Lydia E. Pinkham, that, according to Wikipedia: Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) was the concocter and marketer of a herbal-alcoholic "women's tonic" meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains. Although Pinkham's Vegetable Compound sold well to the general public, it was regarded by health experts as quackery. I'm shocked to learn the "compound" was considered mere 'quackery'. Pretty soon you'll be telling me all those "miracle diet pills" that are in constant rotation throughout the airwaves are mere bogus, too. Yeeesh-!

And evidently Pinkham and her "medicinal compound" are memorialized in the folk song "The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham", also known as "Lily the Pink". (Is there no end to this wonderful medicine-??)

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm still surprised when I see pics of the burros passing right through the middle of the park, alongside the guests. I only remember the Burro attraction, when the animals traveled along a designated path on the undeveloped land behind the Mine Ride (pre-Roaring 20's), and then later across the street at Knott's Lagoon.

That sign in the last image is hanging on the side of Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House. That was the building with the "peek-in" of the "bug-eyed" family eating dinner...and "twitching."

JC Shannon said...

Great scans and great memories. Knott's was always a favorite with us kids. Birthday parties, Cub Scout trips, and family outings. The Calico Mine Train was a favorite of mine as well. One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small, and the ones that Pinkham gives you, don't do anything at all. Thanks Major, great work restoring these great old photos.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, yes, that first photo is my favorite. I still haven’t seen the ride since all of the updates and the refresh. Imagine if they removed it! That would be the end of Knott’s as far as I was concerned. The amazing thing is that, as old as the rides are, they are still a heck of a lot of fun to experience.

Nanook, I kept thinking, “I should look up Pinkham’s Pink Pills!”, but I was just to lazy, frankly. Hey, I gotta write one of these every day, or the universe will come to an end! The pills probably contained chalk and morphine. There’s a folk song called, “The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham”??

TokyoMagic!, burros not only passed through the middle of the park, but they had the ability to pass through solid walls. Also, they could shape-shift, and speak perfect English. Technically, these were known as “hyper-mules”, from the 26th century. Now I need to see a photo of the “bug-eyed” family. If only I could see them twitching too.

Jonathan, “restoring” is generous… I did something to them, but they sure don’t look very good. Wait until you see the other photos of Calico Mountain! They are pretty rough.


That mountain housing the Calico Mine Train directly inspired WED Imagineers in the early concepts of the unbuilt Walt Disney World THUNDER MESA RUNNAWAY MINE TRAIN. If you look at the early concept art - like the illustration on the WDW preopening postcard ( done by Ernie Princehorn and the more developed color elevation by Mitsume you can see the “resemblance” to Calico Mountain .


I’m sorry: correction: the exterior Thunder Mesa show building color elevation was done by Mitsuo Natsume.

Sunday Night said...

Love seeing the burros going right through the middle of that open area of Ghost Town. I well remember the Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House family. Seeing them at night lit up in that building had a strange eeriness to it. I miss the old Knott's. Thanks for taking the time to work on these pics Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, someone did a post some years back, about Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House and they had pics of the "peek-in" display. Of course, now I can't remember which blog it was on and when I do a search, nothing comes up but exterior pics. Somewhere in my files, I have a scan from an old pictorial souvenir book of the display. I will have to look for it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I found the scan. I've added it to an old post of mine from 2009. I have used that post over the years, to add miscellaneous pics to, when a subject like this comes up. Just scroll down past the white dotted line to see the boarding house display. By the time that photo of it was taken, it had been moved behind the Ghost Town Candy Store (near Boot Hill). "The Family Dinner" - peek-in at Knott's Berry Farm

Nanook said...

@ JC Shannon-

I know Grace Slick is proud-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, I am familiar with the Thunder Mesa postcard, and you are so right, it really does look a lot like Calico Mountain! That’s a cool piece of info that I’ve never heard before.

Mike Cozart II, duly noted.

Sunday Night, I think a number of peek-ins were kind of creepy, but that’s why I liked them. It makes me really sad that all of the peek-ins were removed, they were one of those wonderful little surprises to discover while exploring the Ghost Town.

TokyoMagic!, I have read ahead to your next comment! Thank you very much for providing a photo of the family - it’s not what I imagined in my head at all! Somehow I was picturing something a bit more grotesque for some reason. Still, I love it. So… from your earlier description, it sounds like some of the figures moved a little bit?

Nanook, I’m sure that Grace Slick reads this blog all the time, and comments as “Anonymous”!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, the family members eyes were a little more bugged out and freaky in the eighties. They might have also been that way when the photo was taken, but possibly just didn't show up so well in the photograph. And yes, all or at least some of the figures jerked or twitched a little. There was also someone lying underneath the table. You can sort of make out a body under there. Those figures were all removed and replaced with figures and props from Doc Walker's cabin, which was demolished at the same time as the Original Berry Stand and the Little Chapel by the Lake.

Anonymous said...

I well remember the Shooting Gallery, placed right at the exit of the Mine Train.

We always stopped there to shoot a round. The guns were electronic even in the mid-60's.

There were two prairie dog targets that popped up alternately from their holes. Their eyes would light up red when they were hit.

If you timed your shots rights you could easily hit each one in turn as they popped up. I remember once that I hit one with every shot and the attendant gave me a gold foil marksmanship prize sticker.

Good stuff, Major. Thank you.

JG (Grace Slick)