While we in Anaheim
were all struggling trying to survive the Depression, and my family was working our fishing sinker "business"
, the Knott family up the road were working a slightly different angle on their roadside stand.
Walt Knott had decided that strawberries, blackberries and such were a new slant, maybe better than the perpetual oranges and avocados, so he put in berries in the early 1920's. That was a little bit of a risk, because berries need more water in the semi-arid climate there. I don't know whether the Knotts were on the same communal water district we were, where you paid for what you pumped, or whether maybe they had their own well. Anyway, they sold berries at their stand, and to bring in a little extra, Mrs. Knott started making berry pies and then preserves. She was a pretty good cook, and the pies went over well, so she branched out into chicken dinners. (Like us, like everyone, the Knotts kept a few chickens around. They didn't cost much, just a little corn, they pretty much took care of themselves, and there you had eggs and meat.)
Then Walt Knott got creative, and he put up a fake "ghost town": as I remember it, just a few ratty looking old buildings with various aged farm implements and old furniture about. (Most of the "furnishings" were Knott cast-offs.) He had a good eye, though, and as I remember it it looked pretty good. (My sister, six years older than I was, hung around with one of the Knott girls, I don't remember which one - I was the little brother following them around making a nuisance of myself.) People stopped, ate some chicken, toured the "ghost town", maybe took some jam home. All this was way out in the boonies, and people didn't need real sophisticated entertainment in those times. When the Knotts got a little ahead and put in a carnival ride or two, the die was cast, and the rest is history.
I haven't been back since about 1935. Being slung upside down on a roller coaster doesn't appeal to me in the same way as it used to, and of course it doesn't look even vaguely the same any more. I don't know if the Knotts still own the thing. (It would be the girls' children or grandchildren by now.) I looked at the website and it looks like it's part of a corporate conglomerate.