Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Vintage Black and White Knott's Berry Farm

I have a small group of lovely black and white negatives featuring Knott's Berry Farm in the 1950's - the negatives are larger than 35mm, and possess a great amount of crisp detail. The Ghost Town and Calico Railroad debuted on January 12th, 1952; the two vintage locomotives made a splendid addition to the Ghost Town!

Both of today's photos feature locomotive #41, the "Red Cliff", originally built in 1881, and formerly of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. I think it's interesting that both Walt Disney and Walter Knott had a love for steam trains - these massive, powerful machines clearly made a deep impression. I love this first shot of the Red Cliff at rest at the depot in Calico Square. In the distance we can see the arches of "El Camino Real", though they have not been coated with a layer of appropriately-crumbling adobe yet.

The trains had only been at Knott's a few years at the point at which today's photos were taken, but one could easily believe that this railroad was 100 years old. I'll bet Ward Kimball, another extreme train enthusiast, made more than a few visits to Knott's in his day.

And here's a side view. I'm glad for Chuck's sake that these are in black and white so that the strange colors don't cause him any distress. The tall lights in the background were from the old Horse Arena that was there until the Calico Mine Train was added. 

Here's a photo of the "Mark Shaw Horse Show" in that horse arena, with unfortunately very few people watching (which was apparently pretty typical). Photo courtesy of the Orange County Archives Flickr page.

The graphic beneath the words "Red Cliff" almost look like the poop emoji, and now I can't see it any other way. That's how Major Pepperidge's mind works! The aforementioned Chuck provided a link weeks ago showing that the Red Cliff had been restored to its original and more-pleasing colors - and the name of the locomotive was changed to the "Walter K" in 2012 (see it HERE). Why they named the train after Star Trek star Walter Koenig ("Chekov") I'll never know.

Hey everybody, Sue B. told me that her father, Lou Perry, has been in the hospital for a week (this is also his second hospital visit in 5 weeks); he had a procedure that has been very tough on him. Lou has brought us so much fun and joy with his vintage photos (with much thanks to Sue, of course), I'm sure both Lou and Sue would appreciate some words of support and encouragement from the Junior Gorillas!

Get well soon, Lou, we are all pulling for you.


Anonymous said...

Great Knott's photos today- love the awesome detail. I recall reading that after the locomotives & train cars were purchased, it was much more difficult to transport them to California than they had anticipated-
but they were able to get it done.

Thoughts & prayers go out to Lou & Sue. Wishing all the best for Lou getting better.


TokyoMagic! said...

The current photo (in the link) makes me wonder why they changed the lantern/lamp on the front of the #41, and also the smokestack?

For those who love drinking fountains, there is one of those concrete "tree stump" fountains to the left of the train (first pic).

I hope you get well soon, Lou. I'm thinking positive thoughts and sending them your way. Thinking of you too, Sue!


Sue: God Speed recovery for your father - we wish him well.

TOKYO : the stack and headlamp on #41 would not have been original and I have a feeling Knott’s added those styles to make them
Look more “Old West “ looking. A simplified version of what Disney did to the locomotives of Walt Disney World taking locomotives from the 1920’s and giving them details , colors and stripping of the 1870’s.

I love vintage Knott’s but I think I would have had to be dragged to see the horse show. I think that was a common opinion as the ticketed arena show didn’t last long. As a kid I always loved going to Knott’s but I remember many times feeling “guilty” we were not at Disneyland.

Walter Knott’s always seemed to be a highly regarded businessman but over the years I’ve collected a pretty good size collection of ghost town and mining town books and documents and in many of them are stories of how many of these historic towns had to fight legally and financially AGAINST Walter Knott from buying key or icon structures from their towns during the 50’s and 60’s. The biggest of these “fights” was from the remaining townspeople of Elkhorn Montana - Knott’s tried to buy up the famous Fraternity Hall, a Hotel , and a few other smaller buildings. But the town and state of Montana saved their buildings and today is one of the most original and photographed ghost towns in North America .

I know there were several buildings that were located to Knott’s Ghost Town including the Blacksmith building , the School House and the Grist Mill as well as others . The origin of the Grist Mill was that it came from Yuba City , California.... but now there is speculation that only the actual grist wheel stones came from Yuba City and that the structure itself was cobbled together from various scrapped buildings local to Buena Park.

........ we may never know .

Chuck said...

Praise be for black and white for keeping us safe from that hideous Red Cliff paint scheme, which was an abomination to the order of Creation and a testament to Mankind’s unending capacity for cruelty to his fellow man.

TM! & Mike, you are both correct. The diamond stack (which was really just a cosmetic wrap around the existing straight smokestack) and larger headlamp were an effort by Knott’s to evoke the locomotive’s original 1881 appearance. The smoke box was elongated and the original diamond stack was replaced with the straight stack around 1914. If you know what you’re looking for, you can see that the locomotives are really not authentic to 1881, but sport all of the modifications given to them over the years as they were used in revenue service by the Denver & Rio Grande and Rio Grande Southern railroads. That doesn’t bother me as long as they are being preserved authentically, just like the historically-accurate Old West flume logs and roller coasters on display nearby. For more info on the history of the C-19 locomotives, check out this website: http://blackstonemodels.com/new/c19/c19history.php

Mike, I think that Henry Ford had a similar effect on many communities with historic-but-neglected structures as he collected buildings for Greenfield Village.

And Lou & Sue, you both know I’m in your corner. We’ll keep praying and looking for the best!

Melissa said...

What do the train and rodeo pictures have in common?
I say, what do the train and rodeo pictures have in common?
They both show cow catchers.

Sue, you and Lou are in my thoughts.

Nanook said...

Gotta love those 'monochrome' images.

@ Sue-
Please share my thoughts with Lou for a speedy recovery.

JG said...

Major, where else on the internet can we find the connection between historic locomotives and the “poop” emoji.

Come for the pictures, stay for the comments!

I notice the milk can on the cart, similar to several we had left on the farm after Dad sold the cows and got out of the dairy business in 1942 when he went into the Navy. I wonder if they were planning Knotts Dairy Farm?

Sue, give my best wishes to Lou for his speedy recovery, and many many thanks for his brilliant photos of our favorite places. You are both in my prayers today.


Stu29573 said...

Nice photos today! Six Flags Over Texas' railroad runs two trains dating from 1897 and 1901. Who would have thought that theme parks would preserve so many vintage trains?

Prayers going out to Lou (and Sue!) Speedy recovery!

DrGoat said...

Lovely, crisp black and white photos. Of a locomotive yet. Have a HO scale version of a 2-8-0 Consolidation for our little train set, which still lies in a box under the couch in the so called den.
Sue, I'm sure everyone here realizes the importance of our own personal Lou and all the joy he's shown us through his photos. With you all the way. Best wishes and prayers for Lou with a quick recovery.

Grant said...

Sue, sending a massive amount of positive thoughts for your dad.

Andrew said...

These are nice pictures of the wide-open spaces of early Knott's. As an aside, the Walt Disney World Railroad is the closest I've gotten to riding on a real steam train... sad, I know.

Sue, like everyone, I'll surely be keeping Lou in my thoughts and prayers.

Irene said...

I was just at Knott's yesterday enjoying our wonderful Engine 41! I'm always pleased to see the engineers taking such good care of it - yesterday for example one of them climbing up the side and giving the brass a polish. Unfortunately the train was down for awhile right at the beginning of Knott's 100th (actually 101 but that's OK) celebration. It needed a part that was unavailable. Not sure how they finally got it (maybe someone here knows) either from another history train place or made to order. It's good to hear it's whistle once again.

Sue, so sorry to hear about your dad and that he's having a rough time. I will certainly keep him and you in my prayers.

Sunday Night said...

That horse show pic is really rare!

Get well soon Lou! Hang in there!

Steve DeGaetano said...

huck explained everything pretty well, and provided a great link on the history of the C-19s. I always thought they were some of the best-proportioned 2-8-0s around.

Irene, Knott's has two nearly-identical C-19 locomotives. I'm not sure why they couldn't have scavenged a part from one engine to make the other engine operational. Sure, there's no Auto Zone or Pep Boys for steam locomotives, and occasionally parts have to be made from scratch. This is easily done, but often pretty costly.

Sue, please know that we are all praying for and rallying around Lou and hope for a speedy recovery!

Steve DeGaetano said...

Andrew, the trains of the Walt Disney World railroad ARE real steam trains! It doesn't get any more authentic than that!

Anonymous said...

Knott's looked like a farm back then. And in the background you can see cars parked behind the engine. Remember it as a short walk from the car, across the tracks and into Ghost Town.

Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for Lou and strength for you Sue. KS

MRaymond said...

Get well soon, Lou. I'm glad these pictures appeared because I could have sworn that the locomotives were more exposed than they are now. The first time I ever placed a penny on the tracks was at Knott's, now you could never get that close.

Steve DeGaetano said...

MRaymond, even in the 1980s, you could get so close to the locomotives that you could easily feel the heat from the boiler. I still have a nickel that Red Cliff smashed from back then! Don't know why they felt the need to put a fence ten feet on either side of the engine.

Steve DeGaetano said...

You can't see it in the color photo, but Knott's also replaced the pointy wood "cow catcher" (technically, the "pilot") with an accurate "boiler tube" pilot, made out of used boiler tubes. The Knott's crew really deserves a lot of credit for very closely backdating the locomotive to its 1930s appearance.

Chuck said...

Steve, I'm looking at the B&W side view from today's post, and I just noticed #41 is sporting a single, 11-inch compressor vs. the double 9 1/2-inch compressors it has today. In the 1930s it had double compressors like it does today (here it is in 1940), but by the late '40s, it had a single compressor again (here's a 1949 photo), which was how it was delivered to Knott's.

I also found a photo of D&RG #401 (later D&RGW #345 and destroyed during the making of Denver & Rio Grande in 1951) in 1923 sporting a single compressor on the left side and another around the same era featuring a single compressor on the right side.

Any idea as to why they switched from single to double compressors and back again?

DrGoat said...

Chuck, Thanks for cluing me in on what those assemblies were. Haven't a clue on why thaey went from 1 to 2 then back to 1 again.

"Lou and Sue" said...

DW, TM!, Mike, Chuck, Melissa, Nanook, JG, Stu, DrGoat, Grant, Andrew, Irene, Sunday Night, Steve D., KS, MRaymond and Major:

You folks are the BEST! Thank you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers! My dad was very weak today and wasn't able to talk, but after I read all your comments to him and asked him if he wanted me to thank you - he nodded 'yes'! "Thank you!"
Though it's been five days, he hasn't yet gained back his strength after coming out of the anesthesia. I've been told this can happen with older people and that he still could regain some strength. Will keep you posted.

While I'm here, I need to say, Major, your poop emoji comment is funny! <;oD ***

Melissa, I LOVE your question and answer, but, I think you left out one (or two?) word(s) from the answer to your question:

Question: I say, what do the train and rodeo pictures have in common?

Answer: They both show horse-powered cow catchers. ;)

Thank you, all, for adding sunshine to our day, today!

Lou & Sue

Steve DeGaetano said...

Chuck, early on they only had one compressor. I know they had double compressors later on to help fill the air tanks faster to help braking in the mountainous terrain where the were used. Not sure why they went to single after that--RGS was pretty strapped for cash then--maybe they were trying to save where they could.

I suspect Knotts went to double compressors to replicate the 1930s look--plus, if you're a steam mechanic, it would be fun! There's obviously no need for double compressors on the flat Buena Park route.