|Bud Hurlbut at his Buena Park workshop in a Calico Mine Ride engine.|
Knott's announced in November that the ride would be refurbished with the help of Garner Holt Productions, following in the footsteps of the recent rehab of Hurlbut's other key Knott's attraction, the Timber Mountain Log Ride. In early January, just hours before the ride was closed and work began, I took one last ride. The photos below all come from that evening.
Calico, in San Bernardino County, was a silver (and later, borate) mining boom town. Hurlbut changed his version of the Calico Mine into a gold mine. One suspects that more people were familiar with the Gold Rush than with mining in the Mojave Desert. And let's face it, a gold mine just sounds sexier than a silver mine. And let's not even talk about borate.
(By the way, the Orange County Historical Society is organizing a group historical excursion to the real town of Calico on March 22nd. Click here for details.)
|Miners of various ethnicity are depicted in the ride, including the Chinese, who played an important role in the Gold Rush.|
You can see a bit more of the ride's original interior in the video clips I posted here back in 2008.
|The 360-degree, four-story "Glory Hole" scene is viewed from two levels.|
That sounds promising. This great attraction certainly needs and deserves some TLC after 54 years. But it would be a shame if someone were to go in and turn it into a series of humorous tableaus or started throwing in more historical inaccuracies. "Preserve" and "maintaining" sound like the right note to strike. Part of why the ride works is because -- despite the limitations of 1960s technology -- it does have a sense of authenticity.
|Miners cut timbers to support new tunnels.|
|The tunnel begins to collapse as dynamite explodes all around.|