Where was Dogpatch amusement park? Dogpatch Amusement Park opened to great fanfare on June 15th, 1968. Featuring a steam train to take visitors up the mountaintop and an old-fashioned moonshine still, the park boasted over 30 attractions.
Families flocked to Dogpatch for fun and entertainment until 1993 when it sadly closed its doors due to low attendance and rising insurance rates.
Where Was Dogpatch Amusement Park?
Dogpatch USA was an amusement park based on Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip located in Marble Falls, Arkansas. It featured exciting attractions like the Brain Rattler roller coaster, and allowed visitors to catch their own dinner at the trout pond.
Though it has been abandoned since 1993, photos and stories of its heyday still fascinate people as a reminder of how far theme parks have come since then.
History of the Park
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. After examining the property, Snow saw potential 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”, 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.
To make this dream a reality, 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 which eventually led to what is now known as Dogpatch USA – one of Arkansas’ most beloved parks!
Construction and Opening of the Park
The construction of Dogpatch USA began in 1967, when Al Capp and his wife attended the ground-breaking ceremony. Phase I of the project included the construction of buildings and rides, at a cost of $1,332,000.
The second phase was to include an RV park, amphitheater, motels and a golf course but would never be fully realized due to its high cost of $900,000.
Jim Schermerhorn renovated and renamed Mystic Caverns to Dogpatch Caverns, with improvements to ensure safety. While renovating, a second cave was discovered, meaning there would be two caves available to explore.
The roller coasters at the now closed theme park were saved from being left to rot in disrepair. Mad Mouse, Tobaggon, and Super Slide were all moved to Little Amerricka and another little known theme park. This was done in order to preserve these beloved rides for future generations to enjoy.
Unfortunately, not all of the attractions could be saved. Wild Water Rampage, a thrilling slide that sent riders down at a near ninety degree angle while splashing bystanders with water, was left behind due to its severe rusting and rotting away.
It is a sad reminder of what once was but also serves as an inspiration for those who worked hard to save the other rides from the same fate. The roller coasters that were saved can still be enjoyed today at Little Amerricka and other theme parks thanks to their efforts.
Dogpatch USA was an amusement park in Marble Falls, Arkansas that was based on the Li’l Abner comic strip and opened in 1966. It had many unique attractions such as mechanical animals and a trout pond, but closed in 1993. The roller coasters were later saved and moved to other theme parks, while some attractions could not be preserved due to rusting and rotting away.