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Knotts Berry Farm
Knotts Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm is both a theme park in Buena Park, California, now owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, and a line of jams, jellies, preserves, and other specialty food, now part of The J. M. Smucker Company based in Placentia, California.

Starting in 1920, farmer Walter Knott and his family developed their Buena Park berry farm into a popular tourist attraction. Originally selling berries, homemade berry preserves and pies from a roadside stand, Knott built a restaurant, shops and stores onto the property by the 1930s. These were then augmented with minor attractions and curiosities until Knott gradually created Ghost Town, transforming them from a way-point to a Western themed destination in 1940. World class rides were then built and free entertainment drew crowds. Disneyland in nearby Anahiem complemented the theme park, making Orange County a tourist destination to Southern California visitors. As more elaborate rides were included, and big name acts were featured in Knott's John Wayne Theater, a fence was built and admission charged, turning it into a commercial theme park.

The theme park continues to be competitive with special events such as "Halloween Haunt" and with new thrill rides.




Berry Stand origin. The structure was preserved near the crossing of stage coach road over El Camino Real until it was dismantled for Silver BulletIn 1920, Walter Knott (1889–1981) and his family sold berries, berry preserves and pies from a roadside stand. beside State Route 39, near the small town of Buena Park.

In 1932, on a visit to Rudolph Boysen's farm in nearby Anaheim, Walter Knott was introduced to a new hybrid berry of blackberry, red raspberry and loganberry cross-bred by Boysen, who gave Walter his last six wilted berry-hybrid plants. Walter planted and cultivated them, then the family sold the berries at their roadside stand.

When people asked what kind they were, he called them "Boysenberrys".

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, showing a long line of people waiting to be seated.In 1934, to make ends meet, Knott's wife Cordelia (1890–1974) reluctantly began serving fried chicken dinners on their wedding china. For dessert, Knott's signature Boysenberry Pie was also served to guests dining in the small tea room. As Southern California developed, Highway 39 became the major north-south connection between Los Angeles County and the beaches of Orange County, and the restaurant's location was a popular stopping point for drivers making the two hour trip in those days before freeways. Until Interstate 605 and State Route 57 were built in the late 1960s, Highway 39 (now known in Orange County as Beach Boulevard) continued to carry the bulk of the traffic between eastern Los Angeles and Orange County. Great location and good value were the restaurant's conditions of success which developed long lines of diners.

Knott's Berry Place

As time went on, more shops and interactive displays were opened to entertain patrons waiting for a seat at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The Berry Market expanded South from Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant along Grand Ave. with the addition of wishing wells, rock gardens[6] with miniature waterfalls, water wheels and a grindstone "Down by the Old Mill Stream", near a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon fireplace[8] which the Knotts had seen while on vacation and admired it so much that they replicated it behind Jams & Jellies; Lost and Found, Nursery, Preserving Kitchen and Administration Offices. Before long, the Knotts had added Virginia's Gift Shop and several more shops and attractions such as a 15 million year old petrified log, a thirteen foot diameter cross section of coastal redwood cut at age 750 years, a visible bee-hive and an oxcart, with several wagons provided additional photo opportunities. The entire operation would soon be renamed Knott's Berry Place.

Active Volcano

Walt built a 12-foot-tall volcano of lava rock trucked in from the Pisgah Mountain and equipped it with a boiler that rumbled, hissed, and spit steam at the push of a button. Two signs posted nearby read:

"Danger, keep out" and

"Only active volcano in Southern California moved in from the mojave desert complete—and has been erupting faithfully ever since."

"It's not half as fool a thing as it seems," Knott told the Farm Journal. "When the customers pile up so we can't seat them, the girls send them out to ... play with the volcano. They get so interested that I've had to install a loud speaker system to call them to their meals when the tables are ready." The volcano cost $600, and Knott figured it paid for itself the first month. At some point in the late '50s or early '60s, a fanciful mechanical contraption displayed within a 2'x2' box replaced the manual push button. A small red devil with fiery wings cranked a chain behind the glass driving a larger black drum fitted with bent sheet metal acting as cams around its edge, several turns of the demon would cause the cams to strike switches and the active volcano would illuminate, rumble, hiss and/or steam – simulating vulcan activity. The caption sign above the enclosure read "This is the apparatus that controls the volcano. It was made by Henry Legano, and is operated by the gentleman turning the crank. (Sound effect by Bob Halliard.)". The volcano became the "Cornerstone" for a real gold mine, both figuratively and literally.

The most popular genre of motion picture at the time was 'The Western,' and western themeing was quick and easy to make: slap some concrete over chicken wire and carve it into rockwork before it sets, known today as shotcrete. This construction technique became the basis for fabricating much of what was to become Knott's – from stairways to mountains and tunnels, even the tree stump shaped drinking fountains. Using techniques like those on the Watts Towers one could set decoration in it, like the sheet of quartz containing a dark sandy vein indicating gold – as was the entrance to the gold mine/pan for gold.

Gold Mine

Ghost Town Gold Mine entranceFrom the West side of the volcano, guests could enter a mine shaft following a vein of gold down into a large open pit and the Pan-for-Gold activity where customers could buy a ticket to pan for real gold to take home in a vial. Nearby the gold mine shaft entrance, the prospectors mule would haul a stone around an Arrastra, a circular ore grinding pit, filled with gold bearing quartz to release its gold. (In 1998 the mine entrance was converted to the entrance for the Ghost Rider rollercoaster which descended from the station into the former Gold Mine pit. Pan-for-Gold was moved West to School House Road between Boot Hill and the Miner's Bank.)



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