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
An Inspiration to Many Other Places…
Just think what a richer world we have now due the vision and imagination of the Knott Family. Walter and
Cordelia Knott’s Farm and Ghost Town provided inspiration to countless people in the form of their patriotic and pioneering spirit and creativity. Numerous folk
artists who visited Knott’s over the years went on to build their own Knott-like environments right in their own back yards.
One of the more well known Southern California examples of this inspiration include Grandma Prisbey’s Bottle Village in Simi Valley.
Senior citizen Tressa “Grandma ” Prisbrey began construction on her creation in 1956 and her work eventually grew to 13 buildings and 22 misc. structures with most completed by 1961.
Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village was made Ventura County Cultural Landmark No.52 in 1979 and was declared California State Historical Landmark No.939 in 1981 and was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Bottle Village is on the lot at 4595 Cochran St. in Simi Valley, CA. Most of the major construction completed by 1961.
Both Grandma Prisbrey and Trapper John (below) were examples of people with dementia concretia. This is when individuals began to shape icons and structures out of available elements at hand, like bottles, concrete or common household junk. The work they create is also sometimes called naive or folk art.
John Ehn of Trapper’s Lodge in Sun Valley was so inspired by Knott’s Berry Farm that he built a fabulous funky folk-art
environment based on a Western theme on the site of his 1941 roadside motel at Arvilla Avenue and San Fernando Road in Sun Valley.
At Old Trappers Lodge, John Ehn costructed a thirty year tableau of personal history, Mormon mythology, tall tales of
the Old West and homespun folk silliness in concrete and paint.
Ehn, himself an experienced trapper, initially hired sculptor Claude Bell from Knottís Berry Farm to make a sculpture in
Ehn’s likeness for the motel property.
After watching him work for three days, Ehn concluded he himself was now capable of sculpture,
and so the creation began in 1951.
Ehn went on to build many more figures on his property continuing until his 1981 death.
That same year Old Trappers Lodge was declared a State of California Historical Landmark #939.
When the property on which it stood was to be demolished for Burbank Airport’s expansion in the late 1980s,
some of the primary works were moved to Pierce College, a fitting setting with its rural slant and its agricultural ambiance.
The campus boasts livestock and animal-husbandry courses as well as horticultral fields and instruction.
You can view the sculptings by the by red tiled roof agricultural building on El Rancho Drive.
And finally, Walt Disney shared Knott’s love of transportation and history . He was known to have visited the park many times prior to opening up the most popular theme park in the world, Disneyland! Remember that Knott’s pre-dates Disneyland by over ten years.
In 1955 Walter and Cordelia actually attended the July 18 opening ceremonies of Disneyland. Despite rumors to the contrary, they returned to find the Farm parking lot filled to capacity and Knott’s Berry Farm went on to enjoy its best year to date.