Saturday, August 01, 2020

Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town, October 1975

It's time for even MORE Knott's Berry Farm photos from Lou Perry and Sue B! So far we haven't really strayed outside of The Roaring 20's area, but this time we're going to be exploring the Ghost Town... the oldest (and best) part of Knott's.

The Bottle House is an interesting piece of folk art; I wonder if Walter Knott saw something like this in his younger days? There wouldn't be many trees in a desert mining area, so it only makes sense to use a plentiful resource like glass bottles! The real magic is discovered once a person has stepped inside, to find that sunlight has been transmitted through the glass; clear, green, amber, and sometimes blue. It can be surprisingly beautiful!

Next we're looking past the "Settler's Grub-Stake" restaurant toward the arched entrance (in the style of the California Missions) of Fiesta Village.

Here's a rather incredible fire engine, probably pulled by horses, but with that crazy steam apparatus for spraying water great distances. If it was green it wouldn't look out of place in the Emerald City of Oz.

There was no shortage of eateries in Knott's, I can only imagine that they pulled in a lot of money. So many hungry visitors to feed! Just thinking about it is making me hungry. Notice Whiskey Bill and Handsome Brady sitting in front of the building to our left; they are always happy to pose for a photo.

The Jersey Lilly was a replica of the Judge Roy Bean's infamous saloon. The Judge was a rascal to put it mildly. With lawmen like him, who needs bad men?

Next is the Old Knife Shop, where you could buy old knives. That tinkertoy contraption to the left is what I assume is a winch used to haul rich ore out of the Lucky Cuss Mine. To the right, three people are looking into that building, which might have contained one of the famous "peek-ins". 

And lastly, this shot is very similar to image #4, only we can see "Old Betsy", a rusted out mine locomotive that, as far as I know, is still sitting at Knott's today!

MANY THANKS to Lou and Sue for sharing these great photos!!
Extra! Extra! GDB friend JG was digging through some boxes, and found a treasure from the past - a small vial filled with genuine gold dust! As I've mentioned before, these bottles evoke some sense-memories for me, especially the pleasantly chilly water (which was almost certainly snow melt from the High Sierras!). It's a wonderful souvenir. Thank you, JG!


Nanook said...

Ahhh... what a place it was.

Thanks Lou & Sue for sharing these.

TokyoMagic! said...

Once again, I love this era for Knott's!

Major, make that "Sutter's Grub-Stake." That photo of Lou's is remarkably similar to this one from 1964, which you posted almost 11 years ago:

The Fiesta Village arch hadn't been built yet in the older photo. And we can see just how much bigger that tree grew, from 1964 to 1975!

Thank you to Lou, Sue and the Major, too!


I was four years old on my first visit to Knott’s Berry Farm and a picture was taken of me and grandfather (on my dad’s side) on that Gould Horse Drawn Fire Wagon as my grandfather was a fire chief. Every two years when they came to California to visit from North Carolina , we always did a Knott’s /Disneyland trip. Each time my grandpa and I had a picture taken on that antique fire pumper and the group of pictures creates a sort of “Carousel of Me” showing me growing up in two year jumps! It was sad when they tore the fire station down. It’s footprint ruins creates a eating area border for a BBQ restaurant . The fire wagon was put in storage and was recently auctioned off. This period of time at Knott’s really hits a bell with me.

Andrew said...

In the Judge Roy Bean picture, I'd be curious to know what the words on the sign say under "a big cold one."

Just for fun, here's Street View comparisons of the Lucky Cuss and Old Betsey shots.

A big thanks to Lou and Sue for sharing these pictures! I don't think of Ghost Town in the 70s, as the Roaring Twenties seems to get the focus when covering that era, so that makes it all the cooler to see pictures of it from that time.

Chuck said...

'70s Knotts'! (Did I punctuate that right?)

Interesting that they felt the need to emphasize that the Covered Wagon Show only lasted 3 minutes, almost like they were begging you to come see a part of family history. You won't dehydrate in 3 minutes, no matter how thirsty you are.

MRaymond said...

The Knott's of my childhood. One day I'll get back there as well. It's so nice to see the Ghost Town witha roller coaster popping up behind it. I'm motivated to dig out some Knott's photos from 1979 and scan them. I just posted 16 photos from 1977 Disneyland on FB and I'm surprised how many people went crazy. Thanks for sharing.

JC Shannon said...

I love old photos of Knott's. I have such fond memories of Cub Scout outings and birthday parties. As always, Lou and Sue are a gold mine of photo memories. JG, I too panned for gold and had a vile as well. I am impressed that you still have yours! Thanks Major for sharing these wonderful photos.

Irene said...

I also have a vial of gold from panning for gold at Knott's back in the day. Yes, Old Betsy is still there but looks great now. I guess they fixed it up at some time (maybe termite damage?) and now the wooden cars in the back are always planted with seasonal flowers and it looks gorgeous.

Omnispace said...

Thanks L&S! I haven't been to Knott's in several years so it's great to see these photos. Used to like eating at the Ghost Town Grill. It very much retained the old character of the park once other things started to change.

That old water pump across the street was fascinating for kids growing up in the suburbs of California. We would try and see how fast we could make the water gush out of it.

Trying to place the other pics. I think the tall gantry for the Lucky Cuss Mine was near the grave yard? Not even sure the Fiesta Village portal is even still there. So much was changed when Cedar Fair took over.

Anonymous said...

All together now: the seventies, 1970s or ’70s.

Nicely done, Chuck! ;)

Boy, I sure miss the Knott’s seen in these shots. Sheesh.

Thanks, L.S.M. (Hey, that’s practically L.S./M.F.T.!)

zach said...

Why do I want a cigarette? I don't even smoke!

I haven't been back to Knotts since the 70s so this is the park I remember. I, too, have a vile of gold and with the increasing value of gold I think it's worth 7¢. Time to build that Matterhorn in the back yard!

There is (was?) a bottle house somewhere around Death Valley (I looked it up- it's in Beatty NV). I saw it as a kid.

Thanks Lou and Sue. And Major


DrGoat said...

Nice find!
Mike, I guess Knotts / Disneyland trips were the thing to do back then. We did one every year with a side order of the San Diego Zoo and Marineland.
Thanks Lou & Sue, wonderful pics. And thank you Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Hey all, I'm going to be out until early afternoon, but I look forward to responding to the comments when I get back!

TokyoMagic! said...

Omnispace, that Fiesta Village portal/archway was torn down when Camp Snoopy was built. At that time, the Lake of Reflections was extended into the new Camp Snoopy area, cutting off that direct pathway into Fiesta Village.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Ohh yeller yeller gold!

Thanks to Lou and Sue for the great Knott's Pix and JG for the bonus gold rush.

Thanks for posting Major.

Omnispace said...

Thanks TM! That was during a time I rarely went to the parks. I didn't realize that Camp Snoopy made such a dramatic change with the lake - just thought it expanded into the parking lot.

Warren Nielsen said...

Seeing the sign for the Covered Wagon Show makes me smile, and bring back a ton of good memories. For some reason, my dad just loved that show. It was the first place he would go when we arrived and the last before we left. It must have resonated with his own childhood somehow, growing up in Yankton SD in the teens and 20s. He (and we) would stand there through 2 or 3 showings before moving on, and for some reason when we brought our own kids to Knott's, we would do the same. On a couple of those visits, Dad was able to join us. Good times.

This is the true Knott's of my childhood. It's a shame so much has been removed, changed and sold. The slow down-use your imagination-peek ins-antique collection-wander around-explore experience seems pretty much gone. Now it's like a thrill a minute and run to the next one.

Heavy sigh.

These are great. Thanks Lou and Sue and Major.

K. Martinez said...

Knott's is one of those places I've visited through the years, but never had a full appreciation of it until the last five years or so. I LOVE Knott's! I'm what you'd call a super fan of the place. It's still a wonderful park to spend the day and in my case multiple days. I can't get enough.

These pics are of the perfect era at Knott's. The 1970's were magical when it comes to theme parks. Each of these buildings I've gotten to know about and these pics are exceptional. Lou sure knows how to take photos and capture the essence and feel of his subject. And his composition is always right on. Thank you Lou and Sue. Your coverage of Knott's has been such a fun ride and brings forth those great memories.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it sure was!

TokyoMagic!, ah that makes more sense. Guess I should have looked at the full-size image and not just the thumbnail Thanks for the link to the older photo, it’s interesting to compare the two. I have always liked the Fiesta Village “mission bells”.

Mike Cozart, I am sure I must have been older than four when I first went to Knott’s. Seven sounds about right. But I loved it! I honestly don’t remember seeing that fire wagon, but I probably saw it many times and walked right past it without much thought (typical!). Like Disneyland, it is kind of painful when they tear down part of Walter Knotts’ old Ghost Town. The removal of the peek-ins is criminal!

Andrew, I think it says “Come in and get A BIG COLD ONE; Get a (illegible) for 50 cents”. I might be missing something, I don’t think it says “boysenberry juice” so I don’t know what else they would be peddling.

Chuck, I used the same punctuation, so let’s just assume we are right. I noticed that “3 minute” sign as well - in my memory the show was longer. Not that I didn’t like it, because I did! I still remember the quote, “I’m thirsty, mama!” vividly.

MRaymond, even with the changes, Ghost Town is still fun and charming. I like roller coasters, but they do feel so strange with the old west theme, and I don’t like the way some of the later coasters go right over parts of the park, kind of ruining them. Yes, scan your photos!

Jonathan, the only non-family outing I ever took to Knott’s was a school field trip to Independence Hall. I was just happy to be out of the classroom! I went back a few years ago, it was quiet and dusty and wonderful.

Irene, I need to dig out my vial of gold dust that is actually five or six vials combined into one! I’m glad they fixed up Old Betsy, it was getting pretty decrepit. Nice to hear from you!

Omnispace, like many things, I wish I had a memory of eating at places like the Ghost Town Grill - assuming my family ever ate there! I believe that they have redecorated a lot of the old restaurants, often to sad results. No surprise there. Did the water pump actually work?? I don’t know about the Lucky Cuss Mine, hopefully TokyoMagic! or some other knowledgeable person can chime in!

Anon, what is L.S./M.F.T.?

zach, you want a cigarette for the same reason that EVERYBODY wants a cigarette, because they are awesome and cool! I honestly wonder how much my combined bottle of gold dust is worth. Probably not much more than seven cents. I wonder how many other bottle houses there are? There is a whole bottle village in Simi Valley, though it is falling to pieces due to vandalism and earthquake damage.

DrGoat, I can’t help wondering if the trips to Disneyland were done “for the kids”, but the grownups actually wanted to go themselves? Same with those other places!

TokyoMagic!, Camp Snoopy, yeesh. I loved “Peanuts” as a kid, but I truly wonder why the Knott family wanted those characters in their park. Did it result in an increase in attendance?

Alonzo, “yeller yeller gold”??

Omnispace, that Snoopy always was a troublemaker.

Warren Nielsen, I think the only time I saw the covered wagon show was as a part of the same field trip where we visited Independence Hall. I would have probably done it more often, but probably never thought about it again. My brain. I like that your dad was so fond of the covered wagon show! 1975 is probably a little after my main years of visiting Knott’s - we moved to the east coast in 1972, but I sure have many warm memories of the old Ghost Town.

Chuck said...

Major, "L.S./M.F.T." stands for "Lucky Strikes means 'fine tobacco.'"

When the Jack Benny Program was sponsored by Lucky Strikes, that abbreviation was repeated ad nauseum by Don Wilson during the breaks. I've got it hammered into my brain after listening to so many of those old radio shows.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I have listened to plenty of Jack Benny programs, but did not make the Lucky Strike connection!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mike and MRaymond, please give the Major your KBF pictures to post!

Andrew, I just now looked through my dad's photo album and can see (in a different photo) that the sign says:
ALSO ["ALSO" is directly under "ONE"]
Get a Hitchin Cert. For 50 cents

Anon., I had to look-up what LS/MFT meant. I learned something new, thank you!

DrGoat, on our trips we never made it to Marineland or the San Diego Zoo, but I do recall we'd go to DL, and sometimes KBF and Universal. It would've been nice to see Marineland and San Diego Zoo, too!

I still have more photos of KBF Ghost Town to scan and send to the Major, to share with all of you. Thanks, everyone, for all your nice comments! (I also learned a lot more about KBF today - thank you!)


zach said...

Major, It's an old add slogan- Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. Hence, my subliminal desire for a cig. Plus they're so awesome cool.


zach said...

Oops, I see Chuck beat me to it.


DBenson said...

A bottle house figured prominently in a Carl Barks comic story. Uncle Scrooge, Donald and the nephews came to a near-ghost town to locate the certificate that proved Scrooge bought al railroad -- now sought by an aircraft company for a test track -- during a youthful visit. Don Rosas provided the details of that visit in his epic life of Scrooge McDuck.

JG said...

Major, Lou and Sue, thanks for the these terrific pictures of Old Knotts. For some reason we didn't visit much in the 70's so these are especially welcome. Also thanks for letting me horn in at the end with the gold dust vial from my "Box Full o' Fun."

@Zach, there is/was(?) a bottle house in Rhyolite, a ghost town near Beatty NV. could be another one in Beatty too, but the Rhyolite one was still up in 2010. Also one in Calico, I think the Calico one is real, but could be faked up by whoever owns Calico now. There are a lot of new fake historic buildings there now.

@JC Shannon
@Dr. Goat
@Alonzo Hawk

Glad the gold dust sparked a memory. Thank the Major too, since he made me hunt for it with his Box Full o' Fun post recently. Major, thanks for posting my pic, I'm sorry I didn't comment on the day.