Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Walter Knott's Footsteps: Buena Park

Walter Knott and his cousin, Jim Preston, rented land south of Buena Park and started growing berries there in 1920. They soon opened a berry stand and then a nursery to sell berry plants. The before-and-after photos above show the original berry stand around 1926 and that exact same location as it appears today.
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After a while, Jim left to run his own farm in Norwalk. Then Cordelia Knott added a tea room, which eventually grew into the popular Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant (which turned 75 this year). Their daughter, Virginia, opened a small gift shop which grew into a large one. Walter started adding attractions to occupy visitors while they waited for a table at the restaurant. Eventually, this string of small attractions led to a larger one -- A replica of a Ghost Town, which opened to the public in 1941.
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One of the earliest attractions in Ghost Town was the Wagon Train Show, in the Gold Trails Hotel, which appears in the before-and-after photos below. The older photo shows the hotel (new construction, incorporating a few pieces of buildings in actual ghost towns) in the 1940s. The "after" photo shows the recently rebuilt hotel as it appears today.
I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of all the ways Knott's Berry Farm prospered and grew. It's a pretty well known story. Suffice it to say, it was very, very successful, owing in large part to the hard work of the Knott family themselves. The photos below show a later addition to Ghost Town: The Calico Saloon. The first image shows it when it was new, around 1952, and the second image shows it as it appears today.
The Calico Saloon sat right across from the Calico Mine Ride and the Calico and Ghost Town Railroad on Calico Square. Why were all these 1950s and early 1960s additions named "Calico?" Stay tuned.

6 comments:

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Hey SUPER post, love the before and after views. Thanks for all the great historical information in these "foot steps" posts, they're very enjoyable and informative, Bravo!

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Back from a great Thanksgiving time with the family. Folks I haven't seen in 20 years. I am going to spend the day catching up with all the cool stuff you have posted. Appreciated as always, Richard.

Anonymous said...

Great shots again as always. Especially from the original berry stand to the shops today. Do you think Walter couldv'e even envisioned what it would be back then. Nothing but flat land - and now look at it. What an accomplishment.

210Frwy said...

Great stuff. The before and after shots are especially neat-o.

Anonymous said...

Great write up on all posts in this series; thanks for taking the time to share your photos and stories! - Daralee

Chris Merritt said...

Love the then & now shots Chris! Thanks for sharing...