Friday, October 4, 2013

K is for Knott's Berry Farm

Promoted as California's first Theme/Amusement Park, Knott's Berry Farm had a humble beginning  as a roadside fruit stand  in 1928, by husband and wife  Walter and Cordelia  Knott.

Photo credit: Orange County Archives / Foter / CC BY
Knott's is associated with the development of the boysenberry, which was a cross between a blackberry, red raspberry and blackberry, and the berries were a popular item at the farm. Cordelia helped out  by selling jams and jellies made from the berries. Eventually, she began providing home made pies, biscuits , sandwiches and  fried chicken dinners. It was then that she started becoming known for her chicken dinners that eventually evolved in the well-known restaurant- Mrs. Knott's Chicken House.     

To keep the customers entertained while waiting their turn for a meal, Walter developed the Ghost Town. Over the years, things were added to the old west themed area.
I have memories of visiting Knott's  as a kid in the 1960's and really enjoying the ghost town in the days before carnival-type rides were added. It was also free. The minimal entrance fee was later added to deter unsavory real life characters. There was a jail that housed a life-sized figure of a prisoner known as "Sad-Eyed Joe." When you peeked into the jail, he would talk to you like he knew you! Several years ago, I lived in an apartment where one of  my neighbors worked at Knott's Berry Farm, and he often served as the voice of Joe. There was an area off to the side where he was stationed, and could see the guests coming around. Knowing friends or family members could give him the scoop on the unsuspecting person, and really get them confused!  The summer Stephanie moved in with me, I took her there, but did not tell her about Chuck working at the ghost town. Boy, we had a ball with that- she was just 10, and could not figure out how this obviously fake prisoner knew all about her!

There was also a functioning stage coach that had real hold-ups. So did the old-fashioned steam train. My neighbor worked these areas, too, but was not "on" when we rode them.
The ghost town also had a Chinese laundry display, where an old-time version of the workers was posed.

There is a cemetery known as Boot Hill, that had "graves" with goofy tombstones. There was one particular grave that when you stood on it, you could feel and hear a heart beat. That was really cool to both kids and adults! There was a sign saying why the beat could be felt, but I cannot remember what it read.

I also  recall a seal pool, and an organ grinder with a monkey who collected money. I still remember how the man with the monkey said not to give pennies because it was not good for the monkey's health. Yah, I did not believe it either- I thought he wanted more money. :)

There was also a man-made volcano that actually rumbled and smoked. If you moved behind the volcano, you came across a mechanical devil-like character cranking a device that  caused the volcano to sound so realistic.
I visited Knott's Berry Farm this past May, when Stephanie and family visited. I had last been there on new year's eve of 1998. A lot had changed over those years. Why is it that fond memories of my childhood have now become "politically incorrect?"
 Sad-eyed Joe does not talk, the Chinese laundry vanished, and the heart-beat grave is silent.
 The seal pool, organ grinder and volcano disappeared so many years ago, along with other attractions I did not list.
What still remains is Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant, and I just love the boysenberry pie! So worth the trip! 
Have you had any history with Knott's Berry Farm?

This week, the Alphabet Meme is sponsored by the letter "K" Check out the link and join in on our blog hop! 


  1. I always thought Knott's Berry was just an amusement park, never knew it has so many other elements. What better thing to found an attraction on than delicious food!

    1. I so agree! The chicken dinners are not that awesome, but they do serve it with rhubarb. I never have rhubarb unless dining there.

  2. Oh,Barb - I haven't been there in quite a while. I have very few memories - though I DO recall being excited when they got their first rollercoaster LOL. Thanks for the memories :)

    1. I do enjoy rollercoasters! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I've never had boysenberry pie, but it looks yummy! And nothing beats blackberry jam and fried chicken. it dinner time yet?

    1. Blackberry jam sounds yummy! You can have dinner any time you want!

  4. I've never been there but that slice of pie is right up my alley! NOM!

    1. It is so good! I buy Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry preserves at the grocery story and it's very similar to the pie filling. yummy!


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