When someone says “Knott’s Berry Farm” a lot comes to mind… Boysenberries of course, fried chicken, the infamous Ghost Town created because of the massive lines for said famous chicken, and perhaps Peanuts characters. What may not immediately spring to mind though is the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, even though an exact replica of both the bell and the hall exist on the property of Knott’s Berry Farm! With Independence Day tomorrow I thought it was a rather fitting time to visit the perfect recreation Walter Knott built.
In 1963 Walter and Cordelia Knott traveled to Philadelphia, where he fell in love with Independence Hall and all it represented to the country. He thought about how few people on the west coast got to experience visiting such a historic location and thought to himself how difficult it would be to recreate the building. While at the real Independence Hall Knott asked many questions, and learned he could obtain original blueprints of the Hall. After returning to California Knott continued to send designers back to Philadelphia to take detailed photographs and take exact measurements. Knott even ordered 140,000 historically accurate bricks, and laid the first corner stone ones himself. But even with original blueprints and other details, the biggest challenge was the Liberty Bell. But in 1964 Knott’s man Bud Hurlbut was allowed extraordinary access to the bell. He later reflected on the task, “I got in there because of an article one of the men had read about Mr. Knott in Readers Digest . . . I measured every letter on it. It’s the most exact copy that’s ever been done, not only in weight, but in size too. They told me I could spend as much time measuring as I wanted, but when a tour group came through I’d have to stand back . . . I even took a little filing off the interior of the bell so I could figure out the exact metal composition and Mr. Knott would know that his [recreation] was perfect.” In the end Knott’s bell weighed in at 2,075 pounds, just five under the original.*
Further inside is a recreation of the Declaration Room. Here the words of the Founding Fathers boom from fifty-six hidden speakers as they state their arguments for independence. It’s quite an experience, as the voices move around the room both from the location where the delegates would have been seated, and as the walk about the room.
Another area is dedicated to other artifacts and facsimiles of documents.
Of course I’m still dying to go to the real Independence Hall, among many other locations of the American Revolution. I can only begin to imagine the history high I’ll get off of being in the actual place where the Declaration of Independence was signed and later going to the National Archives to see it.
To all of my American readers out there, I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Fourth!