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Knott's Berry Farm is an amusement park near Los Angeles, California that attracts millions of visitors every year. But when it first started, this great park was a mere little berry farm owned by Walter Knott in 1920.

How Did Knott’s Berry Farm Get Its Start?

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Knott had bought 106 acres of land in the Mojave Desert but that proved to be land that was unproductive and not good enough to grow anything on, so instead he moved on and eventually leased 10 acres of property in Buena Park, California to start his berry farm.

Knott’s luck was still bad because berry prices in California dropped by half that year and again the desperate Knott was looking for ways to survive. He managed to eke out enough of a profit to go on to eventually add on a store to his berry farm to sell jam, jelly and pie, as well as a running a small coffeehouse by 1927.

When the stock market crashed only two years later, the value of his property again plummeted, but Knott managed to survive again. While it seemed that his luck would never get very good, Knott was destined to finally start making a profit a few years later, as in 1932 he took a chance on a few berry plants that a man named Boysen was trying to grow to produce larger berries.

These thrived and he was able to get his property up to a value of $1,700 an acre. Knott’s luck was finally going up.

Knotts Berry Farm Starts to Grow

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By 1941, Knott was getting hundreds of thousands of visits to what he then called, “Knott’s Berry Place.” He sold berries, pies, produce, flowers, and fried chicken and was starting to do very well indeed. His farm was now 120 acres in size and was able to provide jobs for hundreds of people.

Soon, Knott began to add interesting things to his farm for people to see such as rare music boxes from Europe, glowing rocks, miniature waterfalls and wishing wells, and odd things like a 12 foot volcano that hissed and rumbled. His customers to his restaurant would go tour these things while waiting to be seated.

As time went on, Knott moved an old West mining ghost town piece by piece to his farm and rebuilt it for his visitor’s amusements. He also put together a special Covered Wagon Show that showed the plight of the settlers that struggled to come to the west and showcased it in an old hotel he had brought to his farm and rebuilt.

Knott’s Berry Farm Keeps Adding On

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Soon, Knott decided these attractions were good for business and he kept on adding them one by one. He found other old buildings such as a saloon, and added in Wild West Shows, a little railroad, a Boot Hill cemetery complete with headstones, and more. People loved it and by 1956 he was calling the place Knott’s Berry Farm and playing host to hundreds of thousands of people a year.

He later added cable car rides, a gold mining adventure for kids, a Calico mine ride, and a replica of the Liberty Bell and Penn. Hall and a shooting gallery so he could compete with the nearby Disneyland that opened in 1955. By 1968 he built a fence around the whole thing and started to charge admission.

That was when things really got going and he started to add much more rides and attractions such as flume log rides, Fiesta Village, and several true amusement park style rides like roller coasters, which helped Knott’s Berry Farm be considered the third best amusement park in the country by the 1970s, when he was then getting millions of visitors a year.

Later Years for Knott’s Berry Farm

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While the park grew more and more and added several other attractions, Knott eventually died in 1981 and a man named Terry E. Van Gorder took it over. It continued to do well and by the late 1990s had clocked in as the 13th best park in the U.S.

The park kept moving on, adding rides and attractions over the years. These days it is still an amusement park and continues to thrill people who come to Knott’s Berry Farm as one of the best places to travel in America today.