Dogpatch USA


Dogpatch USA
Dogpatch USA
Dogsignpatch.jpg
Dogpatch USA old entrance sign in 2008
Location Marble Falls, Arkansas, U.S.
Opened 1968
Closed 1993
Area 825-acre (3.34 km2)
Rides 20? total
Slogan "Have A Heckuva Day at Dogpatch USA!"

Dogpatch USA is an abandoned theme park located on State Highway 7 between the cities of Harrison and Jasper in Arkansas, USA, an area known today as Marble Falls. It was opened in 1968, and was based on the comic strip Li'l Abner, created by cartoonist Al Capp and set in a fictional village called Dogpatch.

Dogpatch USA was a commercial success in its early years, and investors, buoyed with optimism about the park's future, decided to pursue extensive and heavily financed expansion in the form of a sister park, "Marble Falls", designed as a ski resort and convention center. But the following years saw a combination of characters and unforeseen events transform the high hopes of investors into a financial roller coaster ride which eventually ended in the park's demise.

Ownership of the park changed hands many times throughout its history, and it was finally closed in 1993. Since that time much of the property of the twin parks has been neglected and frequently vandalized, and portions of the land are either entangled in legal issues, in a state of redevelopment, or for sale once again.

Contents

History

Conception

In 1966, Albert Raney, Sr. decided to sell his family's Ozark trout farm and listed it with O.J. Snow, a Harrison real estate agent. Snow examined the property and decided that the Raney farm was ideal for an amusement park based on pioneer themes—an idea he had entertained for years. He noted that features of the area resembled those pictured in the Li'l Abner comic strip: Mill Creek Canyon at the base of a 55-foot (16.8 m) waterfall was deep enough to be the "bottomless canyon",[1] and the nearby tourist attraction Mystic Caverns (also owned by the Raney family) could become "Dogpatch cave", where "Kickapoo Joy Juice" was brewed by a few unsavory Dogpatch characters.[2]

Snow and his associates formed Recreation Enterprises, Incorporated (REI) to develop the land and present the idea of a theme park to Al Capp. According to an Arkansas Gazette article, Snow sent Capp home movies of the property and descriptions of the attractions. There would be horseback riding, paddle boats, train rides, local arts and crafts shops, family-oriented theatrical presentations, an apiary and a honey hut and a fudge shop. There would be a botanical garden, rustic-themed entertainment, and many Lil' Abner comic-strip characters who would roam the park and perform skits for the patrons. All in addition to the trout farm and the Mystic Caverns cave, already in operation.

Snow also assured Capp that the park would be quiet and dignified, and would not include roller coasters or thrill rides that would conflict with the rustic Li'l Abner theme. Capp, who had turned down other offers, accepted this one and became a partner, claiming he had once driven through the Ozarks and had pictured just such an area for the setting of his fictional "Dogpatch" town. Capp was apparently happy with Snow's concept and confident that his Li'l Abner creation would not be tainted.

Doubts at the start

Arkansans have always been sensitive about being portrayed as hillbillies, so the concept of a theme park based on such a stereotype was not widely accepted.[citation needed] Lou Oberste of the Publicity and Parks Commission expressed reservations, and Commission Director Bob Evans agreed that Arkansas had difficulty shedding a similar image created by comedic actor Bob Burns and the once-popular radio characters heard on the long-run Lum and Abner series (1932–54), which led to the creation of a Lum and Abner Museum in Pine Ridge, Arkansas.

Edwin T. Haefele of the Brookings Institution and Leon N. Moses, Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, happened to visit Arkansas at this time. When reporters asked for their opinions of the Dogpatch project, they expressed doubts about the likelihood of its success, citing the failure of other theme parks that had popped up trying to capture the success of Disneyland. They also felt that such theme parks tend to cause nearby property values to deflate and local businesses to relocate to more desirable areas.[3]

Despite these reservations, the Publicity and Parks Commission toured the property and decided to support the project, and the Harrison Chamber of Commerce approved the plans for the 825 acre (3.3 km2) park (in comparison, Disneyland originally called for only 8 acres).

Building and opening the park

Al Capp and his wife attended the ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday, October 3, 1967. Phase I of the project, at a cost of $1,332,000, included construction of the buildings and rides. Phase II, which was to be the construction of an RV park, amphitheater, motels and a golf course, would cost an additional $900,000 but would never be fully realized.

Under the direction of Jim Schermerhorn, an REI board member and experienced caver, Mystic Caverns, which was renamed "Dogpatch Caverns", was completely renovated. Dangerous conditions were corrected to ensure safety, including a better lighting system, walkway, and entrance. During renovation, while Shermerhorn was operating the bulldozer, a second cave was discovered next to Mystic Caverns. Realizing the potential value of this pristine cave, he had it blocked off so that it could be preserved untouched. It was named "Old Man Moses Cave" and put on the "to do" list along with the other projects intended for Phase II. Schermerhorn also acquired several authentic 19th century log cabins in the Ozark Mountains and had them dismantled, shipped, and reconstructed in the park. This fact was never advertised.

Dogpatch USA opened and welcomed about 8,000 visitors on May 17, 1968. The centerpiece of the park was a giant statue of the fictional town hero, Jubilation T. Cornpone, and it was unveiled that day during Al Capp's dedication speech to a crowd of about 2,000. General admission was $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for children, and the park reported a net profit of about $100,000 at the end of the 1968 season.

Attendance expectations for the park were, in retrospect, extremely optimistic; a Los Angeles consulting firm projected 400,000 patrons in the first year, and 1.2 million by the year 1977. But Dogpatch USA hosted only 300,000 visitors in 1968, and never reported more than 200,000 visitors in any subsequent year.

The park changes hands—Jess Odom

In 1969, a disagreement arose among the members of REI with regards to investing the profits of the first year. Snow believed all the profits should be reinvested in the park, but the other members wanted to divide some of it among themselves. As a result, Jess Odom, an Arkansas businessman in search of an opportunity, bought Snow's and other REI members' shares for $750,000 and gained a controlling interest in the park. Odom had been successful in several other endeavors, including the founding of a planned community northwest of Little Rock called Maumelle. REI expected Odom to spend an estimated $5 to $7 million on improvements and the addition of "Skunk Hollow" next to Dogpatch USA, but these plans never came to fruition.

Odom signed a long-term licensing agreement with Capp, giving the park and any future Lil Abner franchises the rights to use all characters, events, jargon, names, and titles until 1998. In return, Capp would receive two to three percent of the gross of admissions over the same time period.

For the 1969 season, Odom hired former Governor of Arkansas, Orval E. Faubus, as General Manager and President of REI. He is reported to have claimed that running the park was very similar to running the state.[citation needed]

Also in 1969 the b-movie 'It's Alive' was partly filmed at the Dogpatch Theme park.[4]

Success is elusive

1969 marked a particularly popular year for rustic and hillbilly pop culture. Shows such as Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and The Beverly Hillbillies were in vogue on American television, and a similar rustic-themed park just a few miles away near Branson, Missouri, Silver Dollar City, had become a huge success. The Li'l Abner comic strip was appearing in over 700 newspapers daily throughout the country, which kept the fictional town of Dogpatch in the public eye. In addition, Al Capp had just signed a deal for a restaurant franchise and the rights to develop his comic strip into a TV series.

Dogpatch USA was profitable in its first few years. In 1971, Odom, who foresaw unlimited potential for the park, bought out most of the remaining investors for $700,000 and became, essentially, the owner. REI borrowed $2 million from Union Planters Bank in Memphis in May 1972 to build a sister park called "Marble Falls", with the intention of making the "Twin Parks of the Ozarks" a year-round attraction. Marble Falls, a ski resort with a convention center, toboggan run, motels and an ice skating rink, was ready for the Christmas season of 1972.

Success seemed to be on the horizon for Odom and Dogpatch USA, but the many unforeseen events of the 1970s cast a dark shadow on Odom's dreams. Attendance figures throughout that decade were woefully short of expectations. In 1973, interest rates began to skyrocket, and a nationwide energy crisis kept many tourists home. TV shows with country themes virtually disappeared from the American TV screen and the popularity of hillbillies waned. The Li'l Abner TV show and restaurant chain never came to be, and Al Capp retired. Capp's retirement brought an end to one of the greatest advertisements for Dogpatch USA – the Li'l Abner comic strip.

The mild winter weather which visited Arkansas through the mid-1970s proved to be the undoing of Marble Falls as a ski resort, and its snow cannons and slopes sat idle much of the time. The modest profits of Dogpatch USA were not sufficient to keep the two parks afloat, and Odom, already $2 million in debt, was forced to borrow an additional $1.5 million in the unfavorable financial atmosphere of 1973.

In 1974, Odom partnered with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to create an in-park repertory theater featuring its own "Boars Head Players". This venture turned into a huge disappointment; the group presented two of the five promised productions, and did not return for any of the following seasons. Today, this troupe is still active at the University of Arkansas.[citation needed]

In 1976, Union Planters Bank began foreclosure proceedings on $3.5 million in debts. In 1977, Al Capp and the Li'l Abner comic strip retired, and First National Bank of Little Rock began foreclosure proceedings on $600,000 in debts. In September of that year, Odom stated that, because Marble Falls had lost as much as $100,000 a year since it opened, the ski slopes would be closed permanently. Amidst this, Dogpatch USA recorded one of its most profitable years in 1977.

Two personal injury lawsuits, seeking more than $200,000 in compensation, were brought against Dogpatch USA in 1979 and settled in 1980. By 1979, Dogpatch USA's income was less than its operating expenses, and attempts by Odom to get the town of Harrison, and later Jasper, to issue tourism bonds to refinance millions of dollars of debt were unsuccessful. That same year Odom announced that negotiations had been underway to sell the park to a private nonprofit group called God's Patch, Inc., which would turn Dogpatch USA into a biblical-themed amusement park, but funding never materialized. The heat wave of 1980, one of the worst in Arkansas' history, made that year one of the worst for the park and marked the second consecutive year that Dogpatch USA operated without sufficient income. In October 1980, Union Planters Bank filed to take possession of both Dogpatch USA and Marble Falls. A month later, Dogpatch USA filed for bankruptcy.

The OEI years—Wayne Thompson

In 1981, Ozarks Entertainment, Inc. (OEI) bought Dogpatch USA for an undisclosed amount; it would retain ownership through 1986. Taking the park in new directions, OEI, under the leadership of General Manager Wayne Thompson, reduced the park staff by more than 50% and added many attractions, one of which was "Earthquake McGoon's Brain Rattler", the park's second roller coaster ride. The amphitheater hosted concerts featuring stars such as Reba McEntire, Hank Thompson, and Ike and Tina Turner.

Thompson also brought in the corporate sponsorship of Coca Cola, Dr Pepper, and Tyson Foods, and superheroes including Spider-Man, Batman and Robin, and Captain America for personal appearances and autograph signing. Gospel and bluegrass shows were presented, and Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse from the popular TV series The Dukes of Hazzard) was signed as the park's spokesman both onsite and in TV commercials. The emphasis on new promotions paid off; Dogpatch USA was profitable in every year that Wayne Thompson was General Manager for OEI (1981–86), and more visitors spent more money per person during these years than in any other years.[citation needed]

In 1981, Dogpatch Caverns and Old Man Moses Cave were sold to Bruce Raney (grandson of Albert Raney, Sr.) and a fellow investor. Old Man Moses Cave was finally renovated and renamed "Crystal Dome" and "Dogpatch Caverns" became "Mystic Caverns" again. Managed by Raney until they were sold to Omni Properties, Inc. in 1984, the twin caves continue to operate as tourist attractions.

In the 1980s, the ownership of Marble Falls was divided and changed until it became so entangled in legal problems that it was impossible to clearly identify who actually owned each part of the property. In 1983, a new investor, "Buffalo River Resorts", began selling parcels of the land for timeshares and condominiums, although buyers had to be informed of the uncertain legal status of the property.[citation needed]

The end of Dogpatch USA—the Telcor years

In 1987, The Entertainment and Leisure Corporation (Telcor) bought out 90% of OEI. The other 10% was retained by Herb Dunn, Lynn Spradley and Jerry Maland, residents of the area. Telcor, a corporation formed to buy and manage theme parks and headed by Melvyn Bell of Bell Equities, owned two other parks at the time, Deer Forest Park in Coloma, Michigan, and Magic Springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Wayne Thompson, who was general manager of the park, became President of Telcor with Sam Southerland as Vice President. Thompson and Southerland were principal owners of OEI, and Southerland actually managed the finances for all three Telcor parks. Under Thompson's leadership Telcor made renovations and improvements, and a new ride called the "Space Shuttle" was added.[5]

In 1988, Wayne Thompson departed, and Lynn Spradley, a Dogpatch USA veteran of 14 years, became GM and managed the park through the 1991 season. During this time Spradley bemoaned the fact that Dogpatch USA was forced to spend much more per patron on promotional strategies to attract visitors than other theme parks, and that most kids did not know who the Li'l Abner characters were. By this time the comic strip had been out of print for more than 10 years.

Dogpatch USA floundered in the face of stiff competition in the Telcor years, especially from Silver Dollar City, which duplicated most of what Dogpatch USA offered but on a grander scale, and was an hour's drive to the north. And what Silver Dollar City lacked, the Ozark Folk Center (a fully subsidized state park) in nearby Mountain View provided, and neither park was wrapped in an outdated cartoon franchise.

In 1991, more changes were made as a last-ditch effort to boost attendance. Emphasis was placed on arts and crafts instead of rides and entertainment. General admission was eliminated; patrons paid for each individual attraction instead. Telcor decided to save the money that the Capp estate was receiving for use of the name and characters, and with that one of the most distinctive aspects of the park—the Li'l Abner theme—was completely dropped and the name changed to Dogpatch, Arkansas.

After struggling a few more years, the park was closed on October 14, 1993. In 1997, citizens of Dogpatch, Arkansas (which had been the postal designation of the area since the park opened) voted unanimously to change the name to Marble Falls, its original name. No records exist of such a vote to change the name to Dogpatch in 1966, and residents who lived there in 1966, who are still living there today claim it was carried out against their will.[citation needed]

Abandonment

Although all of the attractions that were of value were removed and sold, the bulk of the structures of the park sat in decay until late 2005. Dogpatch USA was built in a commercially unattractive and undeveloped rural area, and throughout its years there was little commercial development of the surrounding area (other than the failed "Marble Falls" ski resort) to augment the park's attractiveness to visitors and tourists. The location is also difficult to access compared to other theme parks nearby. These factors contributed to the park's demise and hindered its redevelopment, despite the fact that in its heyday the park's landscape was described by visitors as "beautiful".[citation needed] Its appearance during this time was comparable to Heritage USA, a similar amusement/waterpark venture that declared bankruptcy and has also been neglected.

Shortly after it closed, the park was put up for auction on the courthouse steps in Jasper. The auction was handled by Jim Sprott, a Harrison lawyer whose wife Jan had been "Daisy Mae" at Dogpatch USA from 1968 through the 1970 season. Ford Carr, president of Leisuretek Corporation and Westek Corporation, received a quit claim for the property. At that time, however, he neglected to do anything with the park. In late 2002 he had the 141-acre (0.57 km2) site placed on eBay with a minimum bid requirement of $1 million. Although he was looking for a $4 million bid, there were no bidders. In 2004 it was reported by KATV in Arkansas that the property was again for sale, for $5 million. Ideas and suggestions about revitalizing the park were occasionally discussed during the Carr years of ownership,[citation needed] but no concrete plan materialized.

The abandoned park, 2005

In 2002, a visitor[who?] to the neglected and vandalized park observed that the statue of General Jubilation T. Cornpone, the centerpiece of Dogpatch USA, was "toppled and broken on the town square." In 2004, the statue was removed from the park, and was later spotted near the Shepherd Of The Hills Homestead on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in Branson, Missouri. The statue was moved to another Westek property for fear that someone would try to steal it.[citation needed]

Since its closure the park has often been visited by urban explorers (despite the fact that "No Trespassing" signs were posted since 2002, or possibly earlier), and pictures posted on various internet sites attest to this fact.[6] Problems with trespassers and stolen property during these years led to the posting of a caretaker on the grounds.

The Arkansas Herpetological Society (AHS) obtained written permission from the owner and conducted a field trip to the park in June 2004. AHS is a non-profit organization which gathers and disseminates factual and reliable information regarding the indigenous snakes and other reptiles and amphibians of Arkansas. Torry Chapman, moderator of the AHS web site, stated that her organization had planned a second field trip to the park in October 2005, but was prohibited by a spokesman of the owner.

Waterwaste Issues

In January 2009 a waste sewage lift station in Marble Falls flooded and ceased to function due to a severe ice storm. It caused sewage to overflow into Mill Creek, which feeds into the Buffalo National River. The lift station was installed when Dogpatch was built to support the park and a large community that would grow around the area. By today's standards the facility would be considered an antique and is in need of replacement since it fell into disrepair after the park closed. It is unclear who should pay for it, since the status of the land it's on is unclear. In November 2009 the failed lift station was confirmed by the National Park Service to be one of the causes for unusually high levels of fecal coliform and bacteria coming from Mill Creek into the Buffalo River. The community supported by the massive system is about 25 subscribers. Since the accident they have had their waste disposal rates doubled, and the money used to hired two system operations. This put them at at odds with state regulations. It is estimated it will cost this community 1 million dollars to replace the system, but the only other solution would be to shut off their water. In July 2010 it was reported that the state intended to sue the Marble Falls community for contaminating the waterways of Arkansas.[7] [8] [9]

On June 5, June 16 and November 16 of 2009, a routine compliance inspection was conducted by an ADEQ Water Division Field Inspector. All of these inspections revealed that Marble Falls was discharging unpermitted, untreated wastewater into Mills Creek. On February 2, 2010 the Arkansas Attorney General's office filed an injunction in the Newton County Circuit Court against the Marble Falls Sewage Improvement District for violating the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. On June 22, 2010, the National Park Service issued a health hazard warning stating that the Buffalo River and the waters surrounding it contained unsafe levels of e. coli bacteria. Finally, in July 2010, after receiving several complaints from local residents and fisherman, the ADEQ headed up a dye test which conclusively proved that raw sewage was in fact seeping into the Buffalo River. (cite ADEQ press release)

In September 2010, amidst a trial it would surely lose, the Marble Falls Sewage Improvement District agreed to a consent order demanding it build a costly new sewage treatment facility.

Presently, Marble Falls runs its sewage through a borrowed pump. It serves approximately 100 users. The first construction phase of the new sewage facility is due for completion in May 2011. The preliminary costs for the first phase are $168,177.50; the second phase $168,850.00; the final phase $419,375.00. This comes to a total of $756,402.50. In addition to the Arkansas Highway Department's contribution of $292,307.00 to divert wastewater that goes over a portion of state property, the total amount to build a new sewage system amounts to $1,048,709.50. Once completed, it will still serve approximately 100 users.

Lawsuit

In 2005 18-year-old Pruett Nance was riding an ATV through the property. He apparently had some form of permission to be there. He collided with a length of wire strung between two trees, and was seriously injured and nearly decapitated. Whether or not the wire was put there maliciously became the subject of a lawsuit the Nance's filed against the parks owners. The suit eventually ended up in the Arkansas Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the Nances, and they were awarded $650,000. When the park owners did not pay up, the deed to Dogpatch was awarded to Pruett Nance, and he became the new owner of the park. [10][11]

Revitalization

In 1988 Debra Nielson began buying parcels of the Dogpatch property. Eventually the area she owned included the ski lodge, convention center, roller rink, and motel. She renamed the acreage "Serenity Mountain". She moved into the Ski Lodge and operated a bed and breakfast there. She also opened a nondenominational church in one of the abandoned resort buildings. In December 1999 Nielson leased the abandoned skating rink to the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protection or HELP. HELP was a non profit group that provided therapeutic horse back riding free of charge.[12]

In the summer of 2005 passers-by[who?] began noticing activity in the park. Debris was being cleared and the trout pond was drained. In March 2006 a news article, which discussed the clean-up project, appeared in the Harrison Daily Times. Ford Carr, who says that he spends about a quarter of his time answering questions about the property, was interviewed about the project, and claimed he was not at liberty to either confirm or deny that the property has been sold and is being redeveloped: "The official word is it's being cleaned up," Carr told the Daily Times. "That's all I can tell you."[citation needed]

As of June 1, 2006 the trout pond had been cleared of debris and refilled, and water flowed through it once again. The roofs of some of the buildings have been replaced and a few of the structures have been removed.

A few businesses have revived sections of the Marble Falls property. Bob Richards and Randal Phillips purchased and later reopened a portion of the property as "The Hub", a motorcycle-themed center, in June 2005. The Hub features a 60-room hotel and a convention facility that seats 1,500 in theater style.[13] Fred and Larisse Mullens have begun a venture called "The Shepherd's Fold Retreat Center and Campground". The centerpiece is a large church, where weekly services are currently being held, next to The Hub at #4 Dogpatch Blvd. They hope to redevelop the old Dogpatch USA campground and are seeking donations. Signs on their property indicate that they also plan to open a country store. There is also a section of their website dedicated to this.[14]

The Marble Falls post office, a small building with just a few PO boxes and a mail drop-slot,[citation needed] is located in what remains of the Dogpatch USA parking lot, a few yards away from the ruins of the Funicular Tram that brought visitors into the park.

The old Marble Falls Ski Lodge is now an antiques shop.

Attractions

The Trout Pond - a small trout farm around which Dogpatch USA was conceived and developed. It had been in operation for 30 years as a small scale tourist attraction before the amusement park was built. Sometime in the early 20th century, Albert Raney and Sons purchased the land, which since the 1830s had been part of the community of Wilcockson, and diverted the water from Mill Creek to create a waterfall and a pond. They named the property "Marble Falls", the name it and the surrounding area retains today.[15]

In 1966, the Trout Pond was sold to the developers of Dogpatch USA, and the Raney family continued to operate the pond throughout the park's years. The pond was, arguably, the park's most popular and unique attraction, and was kept overstocked so that visitors could cast a rented fishing line and easily catch some "big ones". The catch was then cleaned and cooked by the restaurant staff and served to the lucky angler. After the park closed, the Trout Pond sat untended for many years along with the rest of the property. Trout were fished out by trespassers until none remained. In 2005 it was drained and cleaned. It has been refilled, and water again flows through.

Dogpatch Caverns - A nearby show cave that was incorporated into the park. It had been a tourist attraction since the late 1920s, and in 1949 it was purchased by the Raney family and renamed Mystic Caverns. It was sold to the developers of Dogpatch USA in 1966, and renamed "Dogpatch Caverns". The cave was renovated and many safety issues were addressed. During renovations, a second cave was discovered next door; it was named "Old Man Moses Cave" after a Lil' Abner cartoon character, and barricaded to preserve its pristine condition.

Plans were made to renovate the new cave during Phase II of Dogpatch USA construction but Phase II was never completed. Both caves were sold in 1981. "Dogpatch Caverns" was renamed "Mystic Caverns" once more, and "Old Man Moses Cave" was finally opened for tours and renamed "Crystal Dome". The caves are the only original Dogpatch USA attractions in operation today.[16]

Frustratin' Flyer - a steel "Monster Mouse" coaster created by Herschell. Installed in 1968 for the park's debut, it operated until 1991. Dogpatch USA brochures after 1973 continued to show a Monster Mouse in operation. The mouse was sold between the 1991 and 1992 season.[17]

Earthquake McGoon’s Brain Rattler - a toboggan roller coaster by Chance Rides. The ride was apparently part of the park when it was opened in 1968. In early brochures it was depicted as being a track wrapped around an enormous tree, but the ride was actually made of metal. At some time in the 1970s the ride was closed, possibly due to maintenance problems. It did not reopen until the park was sold to Ozark Family Entertainment in 1981, and was believed to be in service for the remainder of the park's years. The ride is currently in operation as the Wild & Wooly Toboggan at Little Amerricka amusement park in Marshall, Wisconsin.[18]

Funicular Tram - A "decliner inliner", the tram was used to transport visitors from the parking lot into the park below. It was purchased from an unknown manufacturer in Switzerland and shipped to Dogpatch USA at a cost of $250,000. Installed in 1970 and opened at the beginning of the 1971 season, it could transport 1,700 guests per hour at a speed of 13.5 feet per second (4.1 m/s).[19] As passengers descended into the Dogpatch USA valley they were given a short monologue about the park over the tram's PA system. In the early 1990s, two newspaper articles reported that the PA system was not functioning properly and produced only static. The tram itself remained in service until 1992 when the park eliminated general admission, and has the distinction of being the only ride that remains in the park, although it lies in ruin.

Lil' Abner's Space Rocket - The ride was added no later than 1978 and, because of its overt off-theme nature, its addition is thought to signal the beginning of the end of the park. The ride, prominently displayed on brochures from the era, was removed when the park closed in 1993 and its whereabouts are unknown.

Trash Eaters - The park had trash cans equipped with huge animal heads that "ate" (sucked) the trash out of patrons hands and into their mouths. The heads were shaped like goats, pigs, and even razorbacks, and the unusual design encouraged patrons to properly dispose of their litter by making it an amusing experience. The trash eaters used an unusual design. There was a blower motor inside the trash eater "house". The inside of the "house" was sealed so that when the door was shut, a vacuum was created which sucked trash into the trash eater's mouth. The trash then hit a stop and fell into the trashcan located inside the trash eater "house". Several of the trash eaters remain on the property today.[citation needed]

Other Rides - Other rides included: Wolf Island Paddle Boats, Boat Train ride (replaced in 1988 by bumper boats), Helicopters (kiddie ride), Ol' 99 (a kiddie train ride), Wild Water Rampage, Yo-yo ride, Paratrooper ride, West Porkchop Express (train), Scambler ride, Merry-go-round, Antique Cars, General Bullmoose's Gravity House (a blacklight maze, fun house), Shooting Gallery, Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat's Kickapoo Joy Juice Barrel Ride (Rotor ride) replaced by a children's play area in 1988, Sky Driver (replaced the Brain Rattler in 1989), The Wheel of Misfortune (a Round Up, spinning ride, Wheel of Fortune spinner theme-decor)

Footnotes

References

External links

Photography of the park in operation
Photography of the abandoned park
Related information

Coordinates: 36°06′24″N 93°07′56″W / 36.10678°N 93.13221°W / 36.10678; -93.13221


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