From left to right is Roy Bryant, "Fiddlin" Charlie Ware, "Chief Red Feather" Jim Brady, Virgil "Blackie" Dillion and this last one I'm not 100% sure of but I believe it's... Bill Higdon.
For this post I'm going to focus on "Blackie" the second from the right in the above picture.
Blackie was the "Old Prospector" that I remember from when I was young and attending the Farm. Also, I remember him from my first couple of years sweeping the streets of Ghost Town. Blackie lived on the property in a little shack that was located back by the railroad tracks that run along Western Ave. near the corner of La Palma Ave.
The following copy is the obituary that ran in the August 15, 1975 issue of "The Nugget" the employee newsletter back then.
A Tribute to Blackie Dillion
Blackie Dillion is gone but he will never be forgotten.
A Knott's personality for nearly a decade, he will live on in the memories of those who knew and loved him. And his bewhiskered, sun-weathered face will be seen and remembered by countless others who will see one of the thousands of photographs taken of him over the years.
Virgil "Blackie" Dillion died suddenly August 5 in Cutbank, Montana, where he had gone to retire at the end of last month. He was 67.
Knott's is saddened by his death.
Blackie came to Knott's in 1966, and after working a year for the stagecoach, he became the miner at the Arasta near the entrance to the Gold Mining tunnel. Blackie and his burros were a familiar figure as thousands of tourists stopped to have their pictures taken with him.
Blackie loved animals, especially his burros. He lived on the Farm near the stagecoach barns since coming to Knott's, and kept several cats and a dog.
A veteran of World War II, Blackie had been a prospector and guide for Glacier National Park.
He was one of Knott's most photogenic personalities. Photographs of Blackie have won many awards, including the sweepstakes prize in this year's Knott's Camera Day contest.
His trademarks were his beard, of which he was very proud, his corncob pipe, vest, cowboy boots and hat. He was never without all of them.
As Blackie was leaving Knott's to return to Montana, he told his friends, "I'm going where the sky is blue and the air is clear." No doubt he has.
Here is another photo from the Camera Day contest in the "Darkroom Magic" catagory and a fitting end to this post.