|A bit of adobe wall remains from Knott's El Camino Real.|
When the Missions were taken off of display, they went into storage on the second floor of the Gold Trails Hotel in Knott's Ghost Town. There's a rumor that one of the Missions disappeared when an employee took it home for their child's California Mission school project (a long standing Fourth Grade requirement in our state,) and never returned it.
|Historian Phil Brigandi inspects the Missions above the Gold Trails Hotel in 2009.|
“There’s been some talk about putting them back on display,” a Knott’s staff member told me, “but I know it’d be expensive and time consuming to restore them.”
|Mission models awaiting restoration. March 18, 2009.|
I didn’t really get a reaction. Either this was something they’d already thought of, or they were mentally filing the idea away for future reference. I’d like to think I planted the idea, but who knows (or cares) at this point?
|Bob Wier, working on the Mission Santa Ines model, June 2, 2013.|
Wier used to teach wood shop and drafting at John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, and has worked at Knott's for more than 20 years. I've admired his woodcarving talent for years now.
|Mission Santa Ines (normally found in Solvang), with miniature scaffolding, May 30, 2013.|
There's no set schedule for an official unveiling, and Knott's doesn't seem to have a specific plan yet for exactly how they'll be displayed, but the Missions are coming back, and hopefully the whole El Camino Real concept will be revived along with it. This seems like another in a series of smart moves by Knott's to highlight and enhance the attractions and traditions that make their theme park special.
|Mission Santa Barbara, mostly complete.|
Continued in Part IV...