Monday, September 27, 2021

Knott's Berry Farm, February 18, 1961

It's time for a few random photos from Knott's Berry Farm, in glamorous Buena Park, California. 

You can never go wrong with photos of one of the two Knott's Berry Farm steam locomotives - in this case it's old number 40 - the "Gold Nugget", formerly of the Denver and Rio Grande RR. It first went into service way back in 1882! While at Knott's it was later renumbered and renamed as #340, the "Green River", for reasons unclear to me.

It's not every day you get to see a caretaker hauling two dead bodies off in a wheelbarrow, but it's all in a day's work at Knott's. Look at how eroded the wood is on the side of that barrow, as if it has been worn by rough hands touching it for decades. To the right is Dr. Mal De Mer's Medicine Show.

Organ grinders and their monkey minions were popular at Disneyland and Knott's in the early years; here's a capuchin monkey relieving a young girl of her money, and also planting evidence that will get her thrown in Knott's jail.

Over on a rocky outcropping (now the location of the "Pony Express" roller coaster), a Native American family poses just like figures in the painting "Night Watch", which could be found over in the Music Hall. They are long-gone now, of course.

I have more Knott's photos, but I need to scan them!


Nanook said...

"... you get to see a caretaker hauling two dead bodies off in a wheelbarrow,..." Hmmmm. I was thinking more along the lines of an undertaker myself.

I think many of today's societal ills could be solved if more capuchin monkeys were allowed to mingle among the hoi polloi-! Who needs K9 units when a troop of monkeys could easily set things straight. (Plus - they have the added benefit of looking really snazzy in a uniform-!)

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Awwww, that cowboy on the bottom is holding onto the cowboy on top, so he doesn't fall off!

Planted evidence is how all three of Charlie's "Angels" wound up in prison (season one).

I love the shot of the Native American family on the rockwork. It makes me want to scream, "They ruin everything, don't they?"

JB said...

Wow, the clarity in the locomotive pic is amazing! And the lighting is perfect. If I make a bit of effort I'm sure that I could step right into it. I am definitely saving that one to my Knott's folder.

I was going to ask about 'caretaker' vs. 'undertaker' but Nanook beat me to it. Looks like the wheelbarrow says "Undertaker of Calico" on the side. I wonder if the wheelbarrow is a genuine antique that came from the mining town of Calico or if it was constructed for the Berry Farm? Maybe a little of both.

The monkey is sure goin' to town in that girl's purse. He seems to know exactly what he's doing. I bet you're right, Major; he's planting a still smoking .38 special in there.

Really nice photos today, Major.

Melissa said...

Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!

They had to have a Green River to balance out the Red River.

I think that minkey has mistaken the young lady’s purse for a tasty pic-a-nic basket.

Chuck said...

That locomotive has a complicated history. #340 began life as Denver & Rio Grande #400 and sporting the name “Green River,” after the river that runs through Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The Denver & Rio Grande reorganized as the Denver & Rio Grande Western in 1921, and #400 was renumbered #340 in 1924. Knott’s other locomotive is Rio Grade Southern #41 (originally D&RG #409), and I guess to either numerically match #41 or perhaps because they liked the name, #340 was renumbered #40 and renamed “Gold Nugget” after the original RGS #40 (RGS #40 had its own complicated history: originally named “Quartz Creek,” narrow-gauge D&RG #411 was renamed “Gold Nugget” somewhere along the way, converted to standard gauge #802 in 1888, then back to narrow gauge as #402 in 1898, before becoming RGS #40 in 1916 and finally scrapped after an accident in 1943). Calico & Ghost Town’s #40 was restored to its original name and number in the mid-‘90s.

Note the fire hydrant in the background of the second photo.

I never saw the “Night Watch” tableau in person without the John Wayne/Good Times Theater backdrop painting. I like it better this way, even if it looks nothing like the original by Rembrandt.

Bu said...

I'm sorry I didn't spend any time at all at Vintage Knotts before "they ruined everything". Did Knott's ruin everything too? I suppose Buena Park would be in the "glamorous" bucket due to Movieland Wax Museum and the Japanese Deer Park a stones throw away. I would have appreciated Knott's more as an adult than as a kid or young adult. The wild west just didn't "send" me too much back then. Strange things like trains running into town without guard rails and undertakers carting around cadavers weren't my gig, however I would love to see it now. Those tiny rascal monkeys- I stayed in a hotel once that had it's fare share of little monkeys roaming about who were very very clever. They knew how to open up hotel room windows from the outside, get into your room, find your luggage, open your luggage, and throw everything all over your room in the hope of finding a nibble of candy, fruit, or really...anything edible. After the third hotel with this "phenomenon", we figured that we weren't being robbed every humans anyway. Monkeys didn't eat travelers checks. Helpful hint: do not corner monkeys if you happenstance upon them in your hotel room or elsewhere. They are funny, cute and snazzy on their terms. If cornered...the fangs come out. Literally.

DrGoat said...

I agree. Great shot of old number 40. That gloss paint really shines.
Thanks Melissa for finally bringing together inspector Clouseau and Yogi Bear. That's long overdue.
Do like the monkey pic. Bu is right. Even if they like you, they can't pull it off very well. Maybe she has some dates in there, just for him.
Thanks Major.

JG said...

Nothing like Old Knotts photos, but the comments, oh the comments.

I’ll be chuckling all day over the “minkey”.

Thanks Major (and Chuck for the RR “Railway Research”).

Jay Gee

K. Martinez said...

The photo of Loco #40 with the water tower and Calico Mountain behind it is pure Knott's magic!

Thanks, Major.

Bu, Knott's is still a fun place and my favorite theme park today. As for "they ruin everything", nothing is the same as it was in the supposed "good ol' days". Change happens. Even with its modern thrill rides there's still much charm and old-fashioned fun to be found at Knott's Berry Farm.

I would've never dreamed that one day Knott's would replace Disneyland as my #1 favorite theme park, but it did.

MRaymond said...

The first place I ever squished a coin was at Knott's, and not in the "penny squishing" machine. There were no fences around the train in the good old days, and a quick seven year old could get a coin under the wheels. The trick was searching for it afterwards.

Chuck said...

DrGoat, I hope those aren’t bad dates

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, oops… knowing me, I was probably listening to a podcast while writing this post, meaning that I got derailed. Oh well. Imagine how much better life would be if capuchin monkeys were in charge. It can’t be any worse, am I right??

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, I guess one of the requisites of that job is that you have to be OK with your co-worker being piled on top of you several times a day. What was the evidence that put the Angels in prison? Cocaine? I wonder what happened to the “Night Watch” sculpture… was it just destroyed?

JB, I’m glad you like that one of the train, but just wait! I have a few from the 1950s that will knock your socks off (including one of the train). Amazing color, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if that wheel barrow was store-bought… my grandparents had one very much like it when I was a kid. It is slowly decaying in my mom’s backyard now.

Melissa, if the Green River and the Red River mix, you get a brown river. No thank you. The minkey is looking for smokes.

Chuck, I’m afraid that you just haven’t done enough research (or given it 110%!), I need more information about that locomotive! (Joking of course). Thanks for all that info, I’m sure I could have found it had I taken the time. But you know, sometimes I just need to get these blog posts DONE. I’ve still never quite caught up from when my old computer died. I always like seeing obvious fire hydrants too, even at Disneyland. Clearly in the early days the fire department wanted to be certain that the hydrants could be easily located. Since amusement parks had a bad habit of burning down.

Bu, I’m surprised that you didn’t ever make the short jaunt to Buena Park when you worked at Disneyland. Or do you mean that Knott’s had already been sullied by then? Ah, the Wax Museum and Japanese Deer Park… and the Alligator Farm. So much to do! And I’ll bet Knott’s would have appealed to your kid self more than you know, it was quite a place, maybe it doesn’t translate in photos the way Disneyland does. I would hate the thought of monkeys rifling through my bags. And there are plenty of videos of monkeys doing awful things to unsuspecting tourists. Who needs it!

DrGoat, I was fascinated to read that the paint on the boiler has to be a special kind that will withstand high heat. I believe it contains a lot of graphite, and is apparently quite expensive. Not sure if that’s what they used back in the old days though. Sure, monkeys are mischievous, but what really scares me is chimpanzees. Those things are strong, and unpredictable.

JG, I wish I was more organized with my Knott’s slides, they are in multiple boxes and sort of “all over the place”, it makes it hard to keep track. But slide organization can be tricky, I have learned. I should ask Charles Phoenix how he does it.

K. Martinez, I’m always happy to find good photos of the Knott’s locomotives. Just like Disneyland. I haven’t been to Knott’s for years now (not since Chris Merritt’s book debuted), but at that time I was surprised at how much of that old charm was still there. It’s an easy place to love. I want to love Disneyland like I used to, but it reminds me of an article I read about Yosemite… the crowds are “loving it to death”.

MRaymond, I actually have a train-squished Knott’s brass “good luck” token! Now I’ll have to find it. I felt a little guilty because I was told that I could have derailed the train… no idea how much danger that huge machine was due to the brass token.

Chuck, I was a little worried about clicking on your link. Imagine my relief.

Irene said...

Ah - Knott's photos today!!!

Speaking of crowds, I just went on Saturday for the first day of the kid friendly daytime Spooky Farm (as opposed to the night time more for adults Scary Farm). Fortunately I got there shortly after opening and it was fine for about an hour and then it was packed until early closing at 5 PM. My favorite guys, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies are playing there in the daytime on Saturdays and Sundays only. And just like K, Knott's has become my favorite place and if you know where to go and where to look it still has it's old fashioned charm.

I was so disappointed when they took out "The Night Watch" Indian family figures. Stupid Cedar Farm - all to build Pony Express. And also taking out Haunted Shack to build that stupid swing which that at least is now gone. Big stage for big shows is now there and I'm OK with that.

Chuck - wow! Great information on the trains. Rather mind boggling.

JB said...

Melissa, nice Holy Grail reference.

Yay! Chuck did his Chuck Thing. (I hope there's not a pop quiz at the end of the day, or I'm screwed.)

Bu, I enjoyed hearing your escapades with the monkeys. I too, was never really into Disney's Main Street or Frontierland as a kid, or even as a young adult. Too much like 'real life' I guess. I was (still am) all about sci-fi, fantasy, horror, humor, and adventure.

Like MRaymond, I also squished a couple of pennies and nickels in my day. But not at Knott's, oh no. [old codger voice]- "I did my squishing out in the wild, on real tracks with real trains, not in one of yer city-slicker a-muse-ment parks, no siree!... Never did see one of them trains get derailed, though."

Major, any really clear images with good color saturation will knock my socks off, regardless of the subject matter.

Irene, hello! I'm JB, not to be confused with JG or JC. ;-) I hope you're doing well these days, or at least no worse. I've had my own battle with cancer, and won! (So far... Stage 4. It was about 16 years ago.)

DrGoat said...

Give that man a cigar.

Major Pepperidge said...

Irene, I always think of you when I’m going to post some Knott’s photos! I’m not sure if you’re the biggest fan of that place, but you are definitely up there. Why did they close at 5:00? Are they already doing the Halloween Haunt? I would be very disappointed to be told to leave before the sun had set. I wish they’d bring back the Haunted Shack, but know that it will never happen.

JB, I guess I should have added that, like the Disneyland slides, there are also plenty of “the usual suspects”. Guests liked to take photos of the same things, as a rule. Still, I can’t get too upset about it. Now I’m thinking that I should try to dig out all of my Knott’s slides to see how many I have. It’s not many, compared to Disneyland.

DrGoat, ah, nothing like a cigar! *cough cough*!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Irene, it's great to hear you're 'out and about' and enjoying KBF!

JB ('Jay Bee' - not to be confused with me, Sue B), it's really wonderful and encouraging to hear you won your battle with cancer -
glad you're here!

Fun photos...entertaining comments - thanks, Major and all!