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AR-Dogpatch USA is a pretty infamous place here in Arkansas
AR-Dogpatch USA is a pretty infamous place here
in Arkansas with. It was a rustic themed amusement park that opened in the late
1960s based on the fictional town of Dog patch from the Al Capp comic strip "Lil
Abner". It had a pretty ambitious opening but, never had too much success. This
can be attributed to lots of problems. For instants one of the owners tried to
turn the park into a year round attraction by building a ski resort. I'm sure
you can guess how well a ski resort in the Ozarks worked out. Also, it's about
20 minutes from Branson, where you can get everything AR-Dogpatch had on a much
grander scale. The park limped along and changed owners several times. Finally
in 1993 it was shut down.
Most people from Arkansas who were 25 plus visited the park when it was open and have vivid memories. When I ask people what it was like it's always very interesting. The main attraction was the trout pond that the park was built around. You could cast a reel in and catch a fish. Then they would clean it and cook it for you at the restaurant. They less than a dozen rickety rides that were apparently down right terrifying because they seemed like they would collapse any moment. There was a "stink house" that was basically what it sounds like. You go inside and it smelled bad, like a skunk I suppose. Also, before the Lil Abner franchise was dropped, characters from the comic strip roamed the park in costumes.
The park has sat virtually abandoned since 1993. It has been a gold mine for urban explorers. It's as if they just shut the gate and walked out and never came back. Since it's out in the middle of no where with no one guarding it, it was really easy just to go in and walk around. I visited the park last summer and took these pictures.
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I remember going there in 1991. We had gone on a family vacation on the west coast and were headed back to Alabama when we were passing through Arkansas. My parents- who do remember the Lil Abner characters were more enthusiastic about going there than we were. They tried to explain to us on the way to the park just who Lil Abner, and Daisy Mae were, but we had not a clue as to who they were. My sisters and I were excited (as we had been to Dollywood, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Disneyworld) to go to another amusement park. The first red flag about AR-Dogpatch USA was that the admission was free. We were used to our parents complaining about admission-this time, there were no complaints! I remember thinking it was strange that you immediately walked into the gift shop upon entrance to the park. I remember NO crowds... There probably was a reason for that because the park was on it's last leg. I remember seeing the characters walking around and trying to amuse the few children that were there-and the children just looking at the characters-with a stare. We were no different, my sisters and I. We had no idea who the characters were. I remember the huge pond and how they had these machines on the railings that looked like a gum ball machine, and upon further inspection, they were filled with fish feed for 25 cents. We bought a few handfuls and fed them to the fish. I remember the tracks of the roller coaster being extremely close to the walkways and park benches. Almost too close. I remember our parents asking us if we were going to ride the roller coaster (for we were in awe of the park and it's oddities). Upon contemplating to ride the roller coaster, I remember hearing a slow roar and seeing the tracks shake a little, the sound got louder, and louder, as it came down the track. When I looked up, I heard loud clackity, clackity sound, saw the overgrown grass around the metal supports(that looked as if they were not anchored) for the track tremble and move up and down- as if they were going to come all the way out of the ground (The grass was too high in the park too. I remember it. It looked to be a good 3 feet overgrown). My sisters and I squealed and told our parents we were too scared to ride anything there. That was the only ride I remember being there. I seeing the "Stink House" and wondering what was the point of it? Why would you want to smell skunk? I remember the trash suckers...both non working when we were there. After passing the "Stink House" we went back through the gift shop to get to the near empty parking lot. While in the gift shop, I remember putting a penny in one of those contraptions that smashes pennies-and prints the name of the theme park on it. I remember us talking, and laughing about the amusement park called AR-Dogpatch-all the way back to Alabama. It is really creepy seeing the park now in online pictures. The office with the file cabinets-what do the files have in there? What type of paperwork is it? I think I may have some pictures of the park in some albums in my attic. I will scan them an email them if I find them. My parents may have some too. That park was bizarre to us when we were there-I do realize that when we were there, the park was on it's last leg. But it was still strange.
EDIT: Found a few more taken in 2004
I wasn't there very long and didn't take as many pictures as I had hoped to. There are TONS of pictures of this place online though:
There have been allot of rumors lately about the place being reopened. Then some guy started posting pictures of the park cleaned up on an UE site I visit. I managed to contact the guy and get some information about it. Apparently, the new owners have a quit claim on the property and are working during the weekends to clean the place up. After 12 years of neglect it may be reopened once more by next summer.
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