The Timber Mountain Log Ride is one of the most iconic, and classic, attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm. For years, it has delighted and entertained families of all ages with its rough and tumble look into the lives of the folks of Calico.
While it’s called the Timber Mountain Log Ride now, it was originally called the Calico Log Ride. Bud Hurlbut and his father, Ray Hurlbut, began working on the basic idea for the attraction almost five years before construction on the ride began. Bud already had a lot of success with the Calico Mine Ride, which focused on the troubles of the gold miners, at Knott’s Berry Farm when it opened in 1960. He dug into California history again for the Calico Log Ride and discovered a connection between the lumber industry and the gold rush.
After thousands had flocked to California in search of gold, two really big problems arose: the lack of building materials for the new settlers to use and the lack of enough gold to go around. Now, because the miners had no building materials, they had to improvise a way in order to create them. And so, many of them turned to the lumber industry. Because these building materials were in such demand, they actually found a lot more profit in lumber than they would have from the depleted gold streams.
The Calico Log Ride was a costly effort, costing millions of dollars, and taking nearly a year to construct. It opened on July 11, 1969 with screen legend John Wayne and his son, John Ethan, taking the first ride down the flume. The ride is housed in a mountain 300 feet long and 75 feet high. The flume itself is 2,100 feet long and six feet wide. The fiberglass logs, weighing 450 pounds apiece, carry four to five passengers, enabling 1,800 passengers an hour to board the 36 logs for the thrilling 4-minute journey. The “free float” system of the logs did not employ any mechanical device to regulate passage. Fluid drive – water current, controlled by a pair of 125 horse-power pumps circulating 24,000 gallons of water per minute, cause the logs to rush through the flume at speeds ranging from 8 to 22 feet per second. A reservoir of 350,000 gallons of water is required to maintain the flow.
Sweeping through the water on their own power, the log passes picturesque scenery and realistic settings while surging around, over and through the mountain. Passing a forest of Ponderosa pine, wild animals are seen lurking in the thick underbrush. Floating under a waterfall, the logs slip along a trestle precariously clinging to the side of a cliff overlooking a deep ravine. The journey continues, passing many more animated scenes before the final plunge, shooting down a 42-foot incline, plunging with a big bow wave into the mill pond below.
All images: Knott's Berry Farm
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".
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