Saturday, November 04, 2023

Scenes From the Berry Farm

I always welcome any excuse to head back to Buena Park, and Knott's Berry Farm!

This first scan is dated "August, 1958" and features three cute kids aboard a weathered wagon. I hope it was thoroughly sanded to avoid any splinters. The boy to the left is wearing a Keppy Map from Disneyland, so either they'd been there the day before, or it's possible that they did Disneyland and Knott's in one day, as some visitors used to do (as incredible as it seems). 

The other two kids are pretending to hold the reins, trying to control a spirited team of imaginary horses. Gotta get this payroll to Deadwood before sunset!

This next scene might surprise folks who never knew that there used to be a beautiful big lagoon across Beach Boulevard - a lagoon where Bud Hurlbut (builder of the Calico Mine Ride and the Log Ride) operated paddle boats, a miniature train, a merry-go-round, and a small side-wheeler, the "Cordelia K." (named after Walter Knotts' wife). The Cordelia K. operated on the lagoon from 1963 until 1983, and my goodness, this looks like a pleasant place to spend an hour or two. 

I was surprised to learn that the side-wheeler ran briefly on "Reflection Lake", until they needed to make way for the Silver Bullet roller coaster. Raise your hand if you wish you could still enjoy the Knott's Lagoon!


JB said...

1) This is such a nice photo. All three kids are genuinely enjoying the moment and have natural expressions. This one really makes you wonder how it ended up for sale, instead of with the original family. Surely one of these kids would like to have kept the photo?

2) Another nice photo. With weeping willows, palm trees, glassy water, and the boat. (We shan't mention the AEDs. Perhaps these are regular ducks of the non-exploding kind.)
Looking more closely at the boat... it's TINY! Not much bigger than a Disney Keel Boat. Almost comical, but I suppose it was the right size for the lagoon.

Pleasant photos of Knott's, Major. Thanks.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yay! More vintage pics of Six Flags Over Buena Park!

I wonder when that bell on top of the Livery Stable was removed? I don't remember seeing it up there, even during childhood visits.

I loved the Lagoon. My dad lived very close to Knott's, so sometimes we would go over and go into the park, and other times we would just pop over to the Lagoon for a few hours. Bud also had row boats over there, in addition to the paddle/pedal boats that were added later. And the Burro Ride was moved over there, when construction began on the Roaring 20s area. I think some of those palm trees are still standing today, but everything in the foreground is gone and was replaced with a parking lot in 1983. Sad!

Major, the Cordelia K. never made it over to Camp Snoopy. They said it was going over there, and they even showed it in a pre-opening television commercial for Camp Snoopy. But that commercial was filmed over at the Lagoon, before the bulldozed it. Camp Snoopy was originally supposed to have both the Cordelia K. and a new boat, the Walter K., when it opened in 1983, but it ended up having only the new one. I never heard why or what happened to the Cordelia K., and I never saw it sitting around anywhere backstage.

My post from June of this year includes some employee newsletters, which also stated that the Cordelia K. was going over to Camp Snoopy. Again, it didn't happen. That info about it going over to Camp Snoopy, and running on Reflection Lake until the construction of the Silver Bullet coaster, is straight off of the cardboard mount for a "Cordelia K." pin that Knott's released in 2021. The people in charge of merchandise at Knott's, don't even know their own park's history. Sad!

Thanks for the vintage Six Flags pics, Major! ;-)

Chuck said...

Knott’s Berry Farm! My favorite Six Flags property on the West Coast! (Too soon?)

”The other two kids are pretending to hold the reins, trying to control a spirited team of imaginary horses.”. Of course those horses are spirited - they live in Ghost Town.

I love that hand-painted “Restrooms” sign nailed to a eucalyptus tree. It’s details like that that helped give Knott’s its rustic charm. That and the fear you might get tetanus if you scratched yourself while playing on the “abandoned” vehicles and mining equipment. “Hard facts” weren’t confined to Anaheim.

Note the life ring hanging on the “Caution - Lake Bank Slippery” sign post is lettered for Knott’s Berry Farm. I wonder how many of those grew legs over the years…

Can’t remember if I told this story here before, but when I was seven, I made a “movie camera” out of a rectangular cardboard box and a couple of toilet paper rolls. It wasn’t an original idea of mine; i think I might have gotten it from the WBGH-produced PBS show Zoom (“Box 350, Boston Mass 0-2-1-3-4. Send it to Zoom!”). One roll was the “lens barrel” and was taped or glued to one of the short ends, while the other roll was the hand grip on the bottom. I cut a hole in the other short end as a “viewfinder,” cut a light hole in the top a few inches behind the “lens,” and then cut a slit in either side just in front of the light hole.

Then I drew “film strips” on paper and mounted them on cardboard. To view, you took the mounted strips, slid them through the side slits, and then moved them one “frame” at a time past the light hole while looking through the “viewfinder.” It was kind of a home made, 2D View-Master.

The whole reason I am telling this story is the only strip I can clearly remember was scenes of Knott’s Berry Farm, and the only subject I can clearly remember was the Cordelia K., which I drew a crude representation of based on a photo in a souvenir guide. Every time I see the Cordelia K., I think of that “movie camera.”

JB, ”This one really makes you wonder how it ended up for sale, instead of with the original family.”. I feel the same way about Knott’s Berry Farm itself.

And you ain’t kiddin’ about how small that boat is! I never saw it up close in person, so it never stood out before. It’s like they took a 5/8 scale Disney boat, washed it in hot water, and then ran it through the dryer. The upper deck and pilot house are closer to 5/18 scale than 5/8.

TM!, I understand when they drained the lagoon they discovered that the Cordelia K. had some structural deterioration below the waterline that they weren’t previously aware of. Not having their own dry dock, they subcontracted with Disney to do the work, but due to a major overhaul underway on the Mark Twain that tied up Fowler’s Harbor longer than expected, they had to send it to the Florida dry dock facility to get it dropped and damaged beyond all repair.

JG said...

I have both hands up, missing old Knotts.

I wish they didn’t close this park when it rains.

Thanks Major!


K. Martinez said...

I think the new name of the Six Flags/Cedar Fair company should be named "Six Flags Over Almost Everything". Then Disney should buy them. ;-)

Wonderful pics! You know the saying though. You can't go back. Just enjoy the memories.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I know, you see photos like and think, “Nobody in the family wanted this??”. Even one of their own kids? The Knott’s lagoon scene is so tranquil and pretty, a true paradise for passing ducks. “Quack! Let’s live here all the time! Quack!”. The Cordelia K. really is tiny, but that’s part of its charm.

TokyoMagic!, see, this is why I rely on the Knott’s experts, I would have never even thought about (or noticed) the bell on top of the Livery Stable, but it’s interesting to wonder why it vanished. I love that you and your dad would sometimes go over to enjoy the lagoon, what great memories. As for the Cordelia K. never being in Camp Snoopy - that’s what I get for relying on ‘the internet” for information! You’ll notice that I said I was surprised to learn the info - even without knowing, it sounded like B.S.! Thanks for the correction. It is a bummer that even the Knott’s merchandising people get stuff wrong, but as we’ve seen, that is not unique to Knott’s!

Chuck, I hope that all Knott’s rides will be give loops, or at least inversions. If you add Knox gelatine to the water in the Log Ride, it will be thick enough to withstand gravity for a few seconds. This is based on me asking some guy on the street corner. He said, “Yeah, sure Mac, I gotta catch this bus”. So He confirmed my hypothesis. And how did he know my name is “Mac”, anyway? I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but in a book about Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, they said that he eventually worked at Knott’s as a sign painter in order to earn a pension. Perhaps he painted that “Lake Bank Slippery” sign! Would it have killed him to include the word “is”? Come on, Big Daddy. Come on. If only you still had your cardboard movie camera! And it’s funny how things like that can remain vivid memories so many years later. I still have a few childhood projects that have somehow survived, and the memories of making them are very clear. Reading about the Cordelia K. and the problems due (partially) to the lack of a dry dock makes one appreciate Joe Fowler’s recommendation to Walt so many years ago.

JG, I KNOW! Rain really messed things up. Oh well, maybe some other time.


I wondered if the Livery Stable bell was relocated to the Schoolhouse …. The school house was added to “the farm” in 1952… when Knott’s added the bell tower since the original did not have one. However these pictures are from 1958 …. So there goes that.

I think I may have uncovered a BIG MYTH about the school house at Knott’s Berry farm . The story goes that Walter Knott’s purchased the school house - building and its interior- at auction and brought it all to Knott’s Berry Farm in 1952. Knott’s had it painted red ( it was originally white) and added its bell tower. The original structure also had an enclosed entry vestibule with a bell when it was constructed in 1874.

The school house was called “the Iowa schoolhouse” because it was built by Iowa farmers for the town of Berliot, Kansas.

Knott’s DID NOT PURCHASE THE ENTIRE SCHOOL HOUSE … only its INTERIOR FURNISHINGS (desks) at auction… the town had closed the original building after a fire in 1942 the original 1874 was damaged by fire and rebuilt. The rebuilt school was in use till 1961….. the school was restored to its 1874 appearance in 1976 for the bicentennial… and remains today as a historic museum in Berloit Kansas . You can read more about the historic school at the town’s website.

So the schoolhouse was constructed at Knott’s to resemble the same structure as the one the desks came from …. It was relocated from Kansas as the legend tells us …. Knott’s claims even the potbellied stove came from the school … Berloit historical society claims their stove is original ….

Walter Knott’s liked to recreate the old west ….. AND it’s stories …..

Melissa said...

Props to Mom for getting so close to matching clothes for kids of such different sizes!


Knott’s school house story cleared up PART 2

Knott’s Berry farm bought another historic California school house in 1951 … “the Rivera school” ( maizland school) that was built in 1896 and once located where Slauson Ave. is today . It’s was a defunct museum when it came up for sale. It was restored as part of Knott’s “white water wilderness “ it stands today between Jeffry’s Barn and Boot Hill.

I think the story of the Kansas 1874 school house furniture auction and purchase of the 1896 “Rivera/ Maizland” California schoolhouse building was combined or fabricated by Knott’s publicity or just mixed up over time ….

I think I’ve unraveled other KNOTT’S EXAGGERATIONS as well …. For example the story of THE GOLD TRAILS HOTEL …. Having been purchased and moved to Knott’s in 1947….. having been the OLD TRAILS HOTEL from Prescott Arizona ….. this too is NOT correct : Walter Knott’s purchased the WINDOWS from a old hotel near Prescott Arizona …..

Knott’s grandmother was born in 1868 …. And once lived in Prescott Arizona … not far from the hotel the windows came from!!

BTW … all of the Gold Trails Hotel was redesigned and newly built in the 1990’s …. I think only the front doors are original to the 1947 structure concoction…..

This research and findings makes me question other Knott’s ghost town stories and legends…

I think anything historical either real or Walter Knott’s era is greatly endangered with SIX FLAGS taking over …. They do not have a good record for things like that.

Chuck said...

While I’m concerned about the potential that things could go south for Knott’s and Cedar Point, two parks I have an emotional investment in, I’m not worried yet.

Assuming the merger goes through, Cedar Fair’s CEO will become president and CEO of the merged company and the board will be split evenly between current Cedar Fair & Six Flags board members. Cedar Fair shares will trade 1-for-1 with the merged company shares, while Six Flags shares will trade 1-to-0.58 shares with the merged company shares, leaving current Cedar Fair shareholders owning 51.2% and current Six Flags shareholders owning 48.8% of the merged company.

We’ll have to see how things shake out with operations. While Knott’s was closed the day we had planned to visit during my last trip to SoCal (thanks a lot, rain!), I did return to Cedar Point in 2021 after 15 years away and was very impressed. It was clean and nothing looked worn down or grungy. Lines moved efficiently thanks to adequate staffing, and I appreciated the safety focus of the ride operators. I would be very happy to see that sort of focus percolate throughout the Six Flags empire.

It’s extremely frustrating to spend long times in line at my local Six Fags park because half of a ride is shut down due to a lack of staff on duty, or to be waiting in line for a ride to find a teenage operator having to shut the ride down while they frantically look for the other employee who is supposed to be on the ride and just wandered off.

I understand that things could go the other way, and the Cedar Fair parks could go downhill. But I am cautiously optimistic that this could be a good thing for the industry at large.

Major, I think the reason the Covered Wagon Show eventually closed was the lack of inversions. “Ma…I’m so thirsty…and what’s left of my blood is rushing to my head.”

I made up the story about them discovering the Cordelia K. had damage below the waterline as a setup for a reference to the demise of the Admiral Joe Fowler. I need to be careful; I don’t make up elaborate stories in the comments as often as I used to, and somebody might mistake them for fact and post them somewhere else on the Interwebs.

"Lou and Sue" said...

"I wish they didn’t close this park when it rains."

Not only does the KBF park close when it rains, but I've been told that Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant closes, too. Even though it's on the outside of their park. Go figure! (Do they have holes in their roof??)

Chuck, hahaha! You and your stories. I still remember the one about Walt's apartment in Fantasyland, for his grandkids.

Thank you, Mike and TM [and others] for always giving us the true history behind so many crazy stories out there.

Thanks, Major, for a fun day at KBF, n/k/a FFFF. ;oD

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, geeeez! Those WDW peeps love to drop riverboats and ruin original Omnibuses! They should never be given anything! ;-)