California Authors

Walter Knott & Family—Knott's Berry Farm

By Mike Heywood
available on

Reviewed by  Chris MacDonald

Longtime Orange County Historian Mike Heywood of Huntington Beach Kiwanis has come out with a new book on the Knott Family. He not only tells the history and incredible struggles and triumphs of a hardworking, history-minded farmer named Walter Knott and his family but documents the growth and significance of Knott's Berry Farm through its purchase by Cedar Fair in 1997.

He also tells—in his enlightening words with big print--the story of how the Boysenberry” was created; Walter's involvement with and eventual purchase of Calico, the silver mining camp in San Bernardino County; the building of an inspirational replica of Independence Hall; the fascinating Speer's Western Trails Museum (a special part of Knott's since 1956); the role of genius Wendell Bud” Hurlbut, who designed spectacular rides for Knott's and Disneyland; the conservative political life of Walter and how he helped Ronald Reagan skyrocket in politics; the Knott Children (Russell, Virginia, Toni” and Marion and their families, who have played an active role in the success of the farm); and Walter's wife, Cordelia, whose love, inspiration, hard work and chicken restaurant helped the Knott family not only survive but thrive.

Walter's dear grandmother, Rosamond Daugherty, who came west on a Conestoga Wagon, would be so proud of Walter and his family for what they've done to keep the American West alive” in creating what many call the oldest theme park in America” and to Cedar Fair for continuing the tradition and celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Ghost Town in 2016. Kudos to Mike Heywood for continuing to educate and entertain a new generation on the importance of Knott's Berry Farm and what the Los Angeles Times once called, The First Family of Orange County.”

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