Friday, March 13, 2009

Knotts Interlude & Witch Mountain

I haven’t been to Knotts Berry Farm since December 1979. There are 2 reasons I have avoided it, even though it is just minutes away from Disneyland, my second home. Biggest one is that I definitely don’t need another theme park to cover! Second, is that I have been told it has really gone downhill. Reading the recent news that some of the Ghost Town buildings have been torn down kinda’ confirms that. Having just gotten back from the east coast, where buildings last 200+ years despite winds, rain, snow, and humidity, it boggles my mind that with the fairly consistent temperatures of Southern California, the average life expentancy of a building appears to be about 40-50 years. Another difference between the coasts is that the east coast seems to have embraced its past (some say it lingers too long in the past!) and has learned the value of restoration whereas California is way behind when it comes to restoration; scrape and burn seems to be the typical mode of operation. Apparently the Knotts buildings will be re-built; wouldn’t it have been wiser to protect the originals over the years and do some restoration rather than let them get to the point that they need to be torn down? End of rant. Enjoy the photos...I can’t tell you a durn thing about them (other than that they are from about 1957), but I do know there are many of you out there are love Knotts! Hey Merritt - get that cotton-picking book of yours published so that people can start appreciating the history of Knotts!

A detail shot of the Indian figures on the rocks:

And one from September 1960:

One of my favorite movies as a child has been re-released on DVD (with tons of great extras), “Escape to Witch Mountain.” Sure, the 1975 special effects seem a little less than state-of-the-art today, but the film is still tons of fun to watch today, thanks to the chemistry between the leads, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann and its universal theme of 2 children trying to find their origins and a place to fit in. The sequel, “Return from Witch Mountain,” is also still fun, but despite the campy casting of Bette Davis & Christopher Lee, does not quite match the level of the original.

See more vintage Knotts Berry Farm photos at my regular website.


Major Pepperidge said...

I haven't seen "Escape to Witch Mountain" for many years, but they were showing the sequel on TV a few months ago, and phew, is it ever terrible! At first I thought it was charmingly bad, but then the fun wore off.

Meanwhile.... great Knott's pics!

Let's Talk Knott's said...

Great Photos! I miss the Indian figures atop the mountain range behind boothill. They were removed last year to put in the "Pony Express" roller coaster. I had hopes that the mountain range would be rebuilt and they would be put back where they belong after tconstrcution was finished but that didn't happen. Great picture of the Calico saloon. I especially like the watering trough out front that is made out of a log. I worry that the Calico saloon may soon be "refurbished" (torn down and replaced with a substandard replica). The exterior is getting to be in pretty bad shape. Hopefully the size and cost of the project will scare them away for a few more years. Yes much of the park is already gone but that gives me more incentive to go and appreciate the few things that are left. Thanks again for the great pics!

TokyoMagic! said...

Those indians were from the painting, "The Night Watch" that was on display at Knott's for years. It can be seen here on Viewliner's post from November 12, 2008:

Cedar Fair is taking history and just tossing it aside like garbage. I'm with you Dave about the way things are here in So. Cal. I was born and raised here and the attitude always seems to be just to tear things down and repace them with a big stucco "box". It's awful.

Thank you so much for the pics today. They help reinforce my memories of the way Knott's used to be.

Oh and as for the Witch Mountain movies....yay, it's Prudence (Kim Richards) from Nanny and the Professor!

outsidetheberm said...

It's really not hard to keep old structures in a healthy state for many, many years - if you just have the desire to. Our Orange County bungalow studio is nearing 100 years old and it's as solid as ever. You gotta care is all.

Chris Merritt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

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Chris Merritt said...

Heya Dave - the current target date is March 2010!

Daveland said...

Merritt - you are a shameless self-promoter! But seriously...glad it is finally coming out. Will be nice to see a quality publication on Knotts!