Introduction | Suggested Itinerary | General Park History | California Marketplace | Independence Hall | Ghost Town | Calico Square | Other Entertainments | Gone But Not Forgotten | 1955 Map | An Inspiration to Many
Walter Knott grew up in the American entrepreneurial
spirit. His father passed on at age six and by age nine he was growing
vegetables in vacant lots and selling them before school.
Walter and his wife Cordelia, Founders of Knott’s Berry
Farm moved to the rural community of Buena Park in 1920. They began life there
farming 20 acres of rented land on Highway 39 (now Beach Boulevard). Although a
cold winter frost ruined much of their first crop, Walter figured a way to
realize a profit by not using a middleman seller distributor and selling
directly to grocers.
The Knott’s finally bought 10 of those acres in 1927 at
1500 an acre. A year later, the Great Depression hit and dropped the price to
$360 an acre. Walter bought an additional 10 acres at the lower price and built
the farm’s first permanent building, a small adobe in 1928. The 80 foot long
adobe housed a tea room, berry market and berry plant nursery.
Now that land is part of the 160 acre theme park. It was
renamed Knott’s Berry Farm in 1947 and remains as America’s oldest “theme” park
and 12th most visited in the country. The park was free until 1968 when the
amusement portion was enclosed and more attractions were added.
Cordelia Knott passed on in 1974 at age 84. Walter
survived until 1981, a week before his 92nd birthday. They were survived by four
children son Russell and daughters Virginia, Toni and Marion. The family
operated the park until Cedar Fair amusement parks acquired Knott’s Berry Farm
in December 1997.
Although the renamed Knott’s Southern California Resort
continues to keep some of the nostalgic and historical aspects of the park
operating, one may feel it’s only a matter of time before the remaining elements
will be demolished in favor of some new thrill ride de jour.