In a previous post, we visited the twin fiberglass Indian Chief's of Disneyland. Now we visit with the wooden Indian Chief of Ghost Town.
The Cigar Store Indian was said to be the most popular trade sign, but other businesses used trade signs too. An Indian was chosen for a tobacco shop because it was Indians that introduced tobacco to early explorers of the Americas. These Cigar Store Indians, standing outside shops, served as an indicator to the Native Americans that the shop owner inside would trade with them.
The store is part of the larger Western town recreation known as Ghost Town, and the building, erected in 1944 and still stands in Ghost Town today.
In 1940, Walter Knott’s construction crew began to build a “ghost town” out of buildings and materials salvaged from all over the western part of the country.
“We are continually seeking materials with which to reconstruct the ghost town here at Knott’s Berry Place. By securing a building here, part of another there, an old bar in one place or something else somewhere else we add to the picture we are attempting to portray—a composite picture of the ghost towns of the west as they appeared in ’49 and early ’50s. We are not collecting museum pieces nor is it the intention to build a museum. Our thought is to collect a town, but as that is impossible we try to do the next best thing—build or reconstruct a ghost town that will be authentic and show life as it was lived in the early days.” —Walter Knott, 1942
The Hop Wing Chinese Laundry and its interior diorama were completed in 1941. Like most of the wooden figures along Ghost Town's Main Street, Wing Lee was carved by folk artist H. S. "Andy" Anderson. The Assay Office, Chinese Laundry, and Barber Shop "peek-ins" were rebuilt in 2009, and the original carved wooden figures by Andy Anderson were restored.
For decades, Ghost Town’s Main Street was the place to go as Joe’s Saddlery offered them. You could find Joe’s at the entrance to the Pitchur Gallery in 1941, but it quickly moved next to the Post Office where it stayed until Ghost Town Alive’s newspaper moved into the facade for its local announcements. Above both locations was a wooden horse sign promoting its Harnesses. That sign moved more often than Joe’s business but finally disappeared in the late 1960s. There’s still a version of that horse on Main Street, misplaced on the front of the sheriff’s office (which doesn’t offer horse harnesses, so why is it there and not on the Livery barn?), but a new horse sign has popped up on the backstage Ghost Town expansion that was Gingerbread Lane. Find that new horse at Henry’s Livery.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".