Knott’s Berry Farm:
From the Beginning to Present Day
Knott’s Berry Farm was the first theme park in America, and is now one of the world’s largest theme parks. The park is visited by millions of people each year to experience thrilling roller coasters, but this all started by a farming couple from Pomona, California who sold berries from a roadside stand in Buena Park, California.
In the 1920’s Walter Knott was an unsuccessful farmer from Pomona, California who came across some hybrid plants that were a cross between blackberries, red raspberries, and loganberries. Walter Knott nursed the plants and decided to name them Boysenberries after the person who claimed to have created the hybrid plants, Rudolph Boysen. The boysenberry was the official trademark of the Knott Family. Walter and Cordelia Knott bought 10 acres of land in Buena Park, California in Orange County. They began to sell the boysenberries from a roadside stand on their land. The boysenberries were a huge hit and the Knott’s began selling the berries a long with preserves and pies, and Cordelia also began selling chicken dinners. Her chicken dinners also became a huge hit, and in 1934 the berry stand evolved into a restaurant. The Knott’s charged $0.65 for each chicken dinner. In 1939 The Knott’s expanded their kitchen and added seating to the restaurant to six hundred seats. The restaurant has three different rooms with two-hundred seats each to choose from. By this time the Knott’s commanded nearly twice the price of berries. Also, they were getting a return of $1,760 per acre on their land that originally cost $1,500 per acre. In the 1940’s Walter Knott made small ponds, along with other ideas, around his land to entertain guests as they waited to be called in to eat dinner, as people were stuck waiting in long lines for hours to get a delicious chicken dinner. The Knott’s began a gift catalog service for guests to place orders from home, and each order was delivered directly to each guest’s house. During World War II the Knott’s put everything on hold- no berries, no preserves, no pies and no chicken dinners. All construction around their land was also put on hold, but everything resumed after the war was over. Once back they were back in business Knott’s products were being sold all over the nation. Walter Knott also began construction on a new restaurant, The Steakhouse. The Steakhouse was to include a wagon room and a mining room, but unfortunately it was never opened. Walter Knott began constructing a ghost town on his land for guests to enjoy and explore while waiting to be called in for dinner. Walter Knott and a friend Mr. Swartz designed the ghost town using buildings and other pieces that he bought and relocated form old west towns in California and Arizona. Walter Knott purchased Calico Ghost Town, a real silver mining ghost town in Calico, California. As a child Walter developed an interest in American pioneer history when he lived in Calico with his uncle. During World War I Walter Knott helped build a silver mill in Calico. Walter re-created many things from Calico for his Ghost Town including a railroad. He also a replica of an old jail form Oatman, Arizona. A main attraction at that time was Sad-Eyed-Joe, a sculpture. Sad-Eyed-Joe balefully gazed at visitors through the bars of the old prison. Guests began getting distracted in Ghost Town, so Walter Knott had to put in a loud speaker to call the guests back in to the restaurant. In 1942, Walter Knott constructed a pair of buildings in Ghost Town at the edge of Main Street. The two buildings were a post office and a Wells Fargo. At first the post office operated only as an exhibit, but in 1951 it became fully sanctioned by the United States Post Office Department. Another addition to Ghost Town was The Bird Cage Theater, which was a replica from the original Tombstone Theater in Arizona with a working...
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