Walter Knott


Walter Knott

Walter Marvin Knott (December 11, 1887December 3, 1981) was an American farmer who created the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in California.

In the 1920s, Walter Knott was a somewhat unsuccessful farmer, whose fortunes changed when he nursed several abandoned berry plants back to health. The hybrid boysenberry, named after its creator, Rudolph Boysen, was a cross between a blackberry, red raspberry and loganberry. The huge berries were a hit, and the Knott family sold berries, preserves and pies from a Buena Park, California roadside stand. In 1934, Knott's wife Cordelia (née Hornaday, January 23, 1890April 12, 1974) began serving fried chicken dinners, and within a few years, lines outside the restaurant were often several hours long.

To entertain the waiting crowds, Walter built a Ghost Town in 1940, using buildings relocated from Old West towns. Even after Disneyland opened in 1955 a mere 8 miles away, Knott's Berry Farm continued to thrive. Walt Disney and Walter Knott are rumored to have had a cordial relationship; it is known that they each visited the other's park, and they were both members of the original planning council for Children's Hospital of Orange County. Early additions to the farm included a narrow gauge railroad, a San Francisco cable car, a Pan-for-Gold attraction, the Calico Mine Train dark ride and a log flume ride. In 1968, the Knott family fenced the farm, charged admission for the first time, and Knott's Berry Farm officially became an amusement park.

Because of his interest in American pioneer history, Knott purchased and restored the real silver mining ghost town of Calico, California in 1951. In 1966, he deeded Calico to San Bernardino County, California.

Walter remained active in the operation of Knott's Berry Farm until the death of Cordelia in 1974, at which point he turned his attention toward political causes,Fact|date=July 2007 leaving day-to-day park operations to his children. He is buried at Loma Vista Cemetery in Fullerton, California.

The Knott family today no longer owns the theme park; it has since been sold to Cedar Fair. Additionally, ConAgra now carries the "Knott's Berry Farm" brand of jam and jelly.

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