In the past I’ve shared portions of my vintage photo collection, typically of well dressed people from yesteryear, but today I am sharing vintage photos of Knott’s Berry Farm, and even some photos from my family visiting Knott’s!
Knott’s Berry Farm was originally just that, a berry farm, selling berries and preserves. But when the Great Depression arrived, Walter Knott’s wife, Cordelia, decided to sell fried chicken in a small tea room on site. Before they knew it, people were lined out the door to have a taste! So Walter Knott began building little scenes to entertain guests waiting for a table. He began with a waterfall and rock garden, which I think is a perfect place to start this vintage tour.
The great thing is that the waterfall is still there! You can see how it looks today in this post here.
In 1939 he added a volcano that would regularly erupt with steam and sound effects.
By 1952 Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner was really hopping, and they had to relocate the volcano to make way for more seating! I believe this photo is from its second location. Sadly, the volcano is no more, removed in 1998 to make way for the thrilling wooden roller coaster GhostRider.
In 1940, Walter Knott began building his ghost town, to further entertain the patrons of Cordelia’s chicken dinner, who were sometimes waiting over three hours for a table. His town had it all, a jail, a hotel, a saloon, a school house, stage coach, and even a working train.
In the middle of the above photo you can spy Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill, cowboys you can always rely on to take a photo with. The pair arrived in 1947, and made by Claude Bell.
Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill received female counterparts, Mary and Cecelia, who were based on real women who worked at the Calico Saloon.
Guests could also interact with real donkeys, something you can sometimes still catch today.
In 1949 the Wagon Camp was built as a music venue, and featured wagons to sit in and enjoy the show.
Today the Wagon Camp is still there, and is host to the Wild West Stunt Show, but still sometimes features musical performances.
By the mid-50s Knott’s Berry Farm and Ghost Town was growing into a full-fledged amusement park, and in 1955 a seal pool was added. Yes, a seal pool. It’s kind of odd, I know.
Now, I said I would share some family snaps as well! The first is from my mom’s side, which is a photo of my grandfather, and my aunt with Mary and Cecelia.
The rest come from my dad, who was a frequent visitor of Knott’s. The first is a somewhat blurry photo of my grandfather aboard Old Betsy, a borax train that arrived at Knott’s in 1941.
The following are of my dad, who appears very happy to have some rock candy.
The thing I love the most about these is that my dad is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, which is what my dad wears quite often these days!
Aside from taking your own snaps, Knott’s Berry Farm offered, and continues today to offer, the Pitcher Gallery, where guests can pose in a variety of western photo opts, including this bucking bronco my dad is on, and which is still there today!
I somewhat decided to share these now as Boysenberry Festival starts tomorrow! And I’m beyond excited! So stay tuned for a post on that soon!
I have a small collection of vintage Disneyland photos as well that I plan on sharing at a later date.