Walter Knott in Pomona


Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame grew up in Pomona, as did his wife, Cordelia. He was in Pomona from about 1898, when he was 9, until 1913, when he and Cordelia, who had met at Pomona High, left their house at 1040 W. Fourth St. for the high desert.

This was all laid out in my Aug. 19, 2007 column. The photo with the column was a current one of the house, which still stands.

At the Pomona Public Library’s Special Collections Department, we had looked in Pomona High yearbooks in vain for a photo of young Knott. (I think the Library was missing his senior yearbook. Also, it’s possible he dropped out before graduation.)

Then, some weeks after publication, I got this note from library assistant Allan Lagumbay: “We may have found a young Walter Knott in a class picture circa 1901.”

The photo was found in the Library’s collections. In latter-day comments on the back of the photo, classmate Lotta Whipp (now there’s a name) identifies the school as Pearl Street School at Pearl and Garey and IDs many of the students, including Walter Knott.

I didn’t have a good way to share the photo in print, especially at a size where you could see it, but here it is now. (It’s still not very big but it’s the best I could do.) Based on the handwritten and incomplete IDs, it appears he’s in the bottom row, all the way on the right in the jacket.

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  • Dee

    I loved the column you did on Knott’s and never got around to commenting on it.

    Most people don’t know that Knott’s was free to get in up until the late ’60s or so. I don’t remember there even being a fence around it. Different times, I guess. The first time I ate there (about 1974) the menu was: salad with French dressing, rhubarb, cabbage, chicken and your choice of dessert. They had boysenberry pie, boysenberry sherbet or vanilla ice cream. Oh, and the famous rolls with, yes, boysenberry jam. That was it, nothing else on the menu.

    In fact, at that time, all there was to drink inside the park itself was sarsaparilla or (ahem…drumroll…) boysenberry drinks. No Coke, no Pepsi, nothing else. The history of the park is all on the placemats, as I’m sure you know, but interesting only to old-timers like me.

    I wonder if you ever noticed the old, framed, registers on the walls when you first go in? In the old days you could sign in a guest book when you went to the restaurant. Somewhere out there is my (now) husband’s signature from the first time we ate there. But, we’re in good company along with Clark Gable and Walt Disney. (Oh, and all the pictures on your blog are just beautiful. Very nice addition.)

    [Thanks, Dee. More to come. And I enjoyed your details about Knott’s past. — DA]

  • Brian

    Hey Dave, when I was about 6/7 years old, Mom and her sister would take us to Knott’s, late 1960s. The Ghost Town was free to get into, the parking lot across the street had a lake, mini train ride, the Merry Go Round, the Calico Mine Ride had just opened, the Log Ride came soon after.

    In Ghost Town you can find a picture of John Wayne and his son on the Log Ride the first day it opened. I miss the John Wayne playhouse, which is now the Snoopy playhouse. It used to have movie posters from all his old movies, with his pistols, costumes, etc… Didn’t have to pay till you past the RxR, had an old Spanish Town, now a lake/Jaguar roller coaster, a Model-T car ride. Seemed a simpler time, the innocence of youth.

    We used to play on the old steam engine by the blacksmith shop, get horseshoe rings to fit and the thrill was panning for gold. My, how times have changed…

  • Dee

    Yeah! Yeah! The John Wayne theater opened late ’60s or early ’70s. It was free to get in and if you were willing to get there early enough you could get front row seats for whoever was playing. I remember seeing Rick Nelson and the (recently late) great Jerry Reed.This was just before he teamed up with Burt Reynolds. I think Kenny Rogers (with The First Edition) was there too. Big names for that time.

    Does anyone else remember the seals? I remember feeding them dead fish (my boys would be reeeeeally surprised to hear that last one).There was also an “Indian Chief” that used to walk around Ghost Town. I have a picture of him when I’m 6 or 7 and another one about 10 years later. Much simpler times.

  • Brian

    Hey Dee, yes, I remember feeding the seals dead anchovies, lol. And the Indian Chief… We would argue over who got to sit on top on the stagecoach ride and loved the boysenberry slurpies. Loved the campfire wagon circle and the old western gunfights Knott’s put on. Had to wear our plastic cap guns, small black felt cowboy hat and cowboy boots. Today, if you wore cap guns, Homeland Security would be called in… Just ain’t the same anymore.

    [You guys are makin’ me cry. — DA]

  • Steve Dugan

    The Knott family has even deeper roots in this part of southern California than just Pomona. In researching the history of the Covina United Methodist Church, I found a Rev. C.E. Knott (I believe an uncle of Walter Knott), who was a Methodist minister and gave the first sermon at the Covina Methodist Church in 1886. Rev. Knott was the primary pastor in Azusa.

    [Knott’s father, E.C. Knott, was a Methodist minister who founded a church in Pomona and, if memory serves, also preached in Azusa. I think he’s the one you’re referring to. — DA]

  • Evan Sternard

    Dave, thanks so much for both the article and for hosting the wonderful comments. I, too can (dimly) remember drinking real boysenberry juice (not the later punch) and playing on the aforementioned small steam locomotive.

    I have a question for anyone who might remember: Does anyone recall a treehouse that used to be located in the Old MacDonald’s Farm section of the park? It would have been near (I think) the Seal Pool. My mom had a birthday party for me there when I was very young (very early ’60s) and I’d love any info about it that anyone might have. Thanks!