Monday, June 15, 2009

Dogpatch U.S.A.

In 1968 a small amusement park was opened in the area of Marble Falls, Arkansas. Called "Dogpatch, U.S.A.", it was a theme park based on characters and locations from Al Capps "Lil' Abner" comic strips. The town of Marble Falls actually changed its name to Dogpatch to help promote the park.

In the 60's being a hillbilly was pretty fashionable. Popular shows of the time included Petticoat Junction, Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbilly's (who consequently shot several scenes at Silver Dollar City - but, that's a post for another day.) The time was right for a Hillbilly themed park!

Many of the buildings found in the park were authentic hillbilly cabins found in the local area. They were meticulously broken down, cataloged and tagged, and then reassembled back in the park.

Dogpatch was wildly successful in it's beginning but several factors began slowly bringing this park to an end. Here is a basic run-down of what happened:

1. One major shareholder, Jess Odom, bought out all of his shareholders making him (basically) the sole owner of Dogpatch.
2. He decided to build a ski resort... bad news because:
-Arkansas had a string of mild winters.
-Interest rates doubled
3. Hillbilly TV shows started being replaced by City Folk TV shows... (and more and more people were able to afford their own TV.)
4. Al Capp retired and Lil' Abner comic strip was no-more.
5. In 1980 Dogpatch filed for bankruptcy.

Believe it or not, Dogpatch actually opened for business the following season after filing for bankruptcy. Also in 1981 Dogpatch was bought by Ozark Entertainment, Inc. Under new management the park saw several more prosperous years. They put in a few new rides and other entertainment venues.



In 1987 The Entertainment and Leisure Corporation (Telcor) bought Dogpatch U.S.A for an undisclosed price. Under this new leadership even more money was put into the park and things were really looking up. But unfortunately this was a short lived success.



By the 1980's the Lil' Abner comic strip had been retired 20 years. Kids didn't know who Lil'Abner was..and they could care less. Also adding to Dogpatch troubles was Silver Dollar City. Dogpatch was basically a park mimicing SDC, only SDC had the good fortune of being close to Branson. Dogpatch was unable to draw in the amount of tourists it needed to keep the park successful. In the early 1991 Dogpatch decided to nix the whole Lil' Abner persona and focus on arts/crafts village to save money on royalties to the Capp family.
It didn't work and Dogpatch U.S.A. closed its doors in 1993.

The official name of the town was changed back to Marble Falls in 1997.

Now the park is abandoned. It is still there, decaying. There are a couple of really great websites where you can see current pictures.

Underground Ozarks has some awesome photos of their trip into the park. You can check it out here.

Pointed Sticks Presents: Colter also made a trip behind the scenes and you can see his adventures here.


In 1994, Dogpatch was sold Westek Corp. and Leisure Tek, Ltd.
Although neighbors are rumbling that there has been some activity at the park (looks like some reconstruction and preservation efforts) they have not made public any plans for the park.

If you have any pics of you and your family at Dogpatch U.S.A please send them to me at JamesStephanieKayley@gmail.com! I'll put them up on my blog to share!!

4 comments:

  1. My Name Is Brent Long and i am trying to contact the owner of dogpatch amusment park if you See this Contact me at 501-319-3831 i have a few questions about the park

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dogpatch is currently transitioning under the direction of owner Charles "Bud" Pelsor, into a sustainable artist colony and event park. Dogpatch will host a Pirate Invasion/BBQ Cookoff/Black Powder Demo/Arts & Crafts Festival Labor Day weekend, 2015

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dogpatch is currently transitioning under the direction of owner Charles "Bud" Pelsor, into a sustainable artist colony and event park. Dogpatch will host a Pirate Invasion/BBQ Cookoff/Black Powder Demo/Arts & Crafts Festival Labor Day weekend, 2015

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dogpatch is currently transitioning under the direction of owner Charles "Bud" Pelsor, into a sustainable artist colony and event park. Dogpatch will host a Pirate Invasion/BBQ Cookoff/Black Powder Demo/Arts & Crafts Festival Labor Day weekend, 2015

    ReplyDelete