Dogpatch USA is an abandoned theme park located in northwest Arkansas
along State Highway 7 between the cities of Harrison and Jasper, 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. Investors
tried to parlay that success into a sister park, "Marble Falls,"
planned with a ski resort and convention center. The venture failed
and led to the park's closure in 1993. The property fell into
disrepair. In August 2014, the park was purchased by Bud Pelsor and a
business partner, who announced plans to restore the park and
eventually re-open it. Beginning in December 2014, Pelsor opened
the park to visitors for several events; these were the first
occasions on which the park was open to visitors since its 1993
closing. In March 2016, Pelsor's business partner wanted to sell
his share of the park, so the park was put up for sale again; however,
Pelsor said he would be happy to maintain half-ownership in the park
and sell the other half to a new business partner.
A documentary about
Dogpatch USA is currently in post-production by
Jeff Carter Productions. Release date is May 18, 2018.
1.2 Building and opening the park
1.3 Jess Odom ownership
1.4 OEI ownership
1.5 Telcor ownership
2.1 Revitalization of Marble Falls
2.2 Bud Pelsor ownership
5 Further reading
6 External links
Albert Raney, Sr. decided to sell his family's Ozark trout
farm and listed it with O. J. Snow, a Harrison,
Arkansas real estate
agent. Snow examined the property and decided that the Raney farm was
ideal for an amusement park based on pioneer themes, which was an idea
he had entertained for years. He noted that features of the area
resembled those pictured in the
Li'l Abner comic strip: he imagined
Mill Creek Canyon at the base of a 55-foot (16.8 m) waterfall
could be the "bottomless canyon" featured in the comic strip, and
the nearby tourist attraction
Mystic Caverns (also owned by the Raney
family) could become "
Dogpatch Cave", where
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice was
brewed by a few unsavory
Snow and nine or ten Harrison businessmen formed Recreation
Enterprises, Incorporated (REI) to develop the land. Their first
step was to get permission from Al Capp, the creator of Li'l Abner,
for a park based on his work. According to an
article, Snow sent Capp home movies of the property and descriptions
of the attractions. In addition to the trout farm and Mystic Caverns
cave, Snow planned a variety of attractions and activities, including
horseback riding, paddle boats, train rides, local arts and crafts
shops, family-oriented theatrical presentations, a botanical garden,
an apiary, and honey and fudge shops.
Li'l Abner comic-strip
characters who would roam the park and perform skits for the patrons.
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 to use his characters in theme parks, 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. On January 4, 1967, an article in the Northwest
Arkansas Times stated that Capp's attorneys were finalizing the
agreement. Capp approved of the plans for the park and granted REI
the rights to use his characters.
Some state officials and
Arkansas residents objected to the creation
of the theme park because they thought that it would encourage
negative hillbilly stereotypes. 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.
In January 1967, Edwin T. Haefele of the
Brookings Institution and
Leon N. Moses, Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, were
Arkansas attending the Central
Arkansas Urban Policy
Conference. 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 replicate Disneyland's great success. They also felt
that such theme parks tend to cause nearby property values to deflate
and local businesses to relocate to more desirable areas. 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 eight
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 initial buildings and rides. A second
phase, which included the construction of a train from
Marble Falls, a tram from the parking lot to the park entrance, the
"Skunk Hollow" section of the park, a motel, and a golf course, was
planned to be completed over the next two years at a cost of
$2,000,000. In 1968, the name of the community post office was
officially changed from Marble Falls to Dogpatch.
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, and the additions included a better
lighting system, walkway, and entrance. During renovation, while
Schermerhorn 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. A watermill that had originally operated on the property
circa 1834 was restored and made fully operational.
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. Capp unveiled the statue during his
dedication speech to a crowd of about 2,000. Kim Capp, son of Al
Capp, worked as the assistant Public Relations Director. General
admission was $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for children. During the
first year, the park's attractions included a railroad, surrey rides,
trail rides, a stable, an apiary, a grist mill tour, a slide, a
petting zoo, and a "mule swing." Fishing in the trout pond
was another activity offered; the
Dogpatch restaurant could then cook
the trout for visitors. Artisans demonstrated their work,
including candlemaking, glassblowing, and woodcarving, and local
crafts were available for purchase, including handmade dulcimers,
smoking chips, and embroidered aprons, though crafts produced
elsewhere supplemented the local products. The "alpine-style"
Dogpatch Inn provided accommodations for visitors. 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. David Wesley and
Harrison Price of the Los Angeles
consulting firm Economic Research Associates projected 400,000 patrons
in the first year. They projected that within 10 years, annual
attendance would exceed 1 million and annual revenue would be $5
Dogpatch USA hosted only 300,000 visitors in
1968. Estimates of attendance in its subsequent years have varied
widely. According to a February 9, 1997 article in the Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette, it never reported more than 200,000 visitors in any
subsequent year. However, according to an August 10, 1997 article
in the same newspaper, "in the early 1970s, the park was attracting
almost a million visitors each year."
Abandoned waterslide at
Dogpatch USA, in December 2014
Jess Odom ownership
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. Jess Odom, an
in search of an opportunity, bought REI members' shares for $750,000
and gained a controlling interest in the park in October
1968. Odom had been successful in several other endeavors,
including the founding of a planned community northwest of Little Rock
called Maumelle. In summer 1968, there were plans to expand the
park further in time for next season's opening; the planned
attractions were the "Skunk Holler" section, new shops, and more Li'l
Odom signed a long-term licensing agreement with Capp, giving the park
and any future
Li'l 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
According to some sources, in 1969, the cave discovered during
construction, "Old Man Moses Cave," was opened to park
visitors. However, according to Mystic Caverns' owners, the
Old Man Moses Cave was never opened to the public while it was part of
Dogpatch, USA. Also in 1969, the first annual Miss Dogpatch
pageant was held in the park. During that time, Orval Faubus,
former governor of Arkansas, served as the president of Dogpatch,
USA. Also in 1969 the B-movie
'It's Alive!' was partly filmed
Dogpatch Theme park.
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 more than 700 newspapers daily
throughout the country, which kept the fictional town of
the public eye. In 1968,
Al Capp had granted New York restaurant chain
Longchamps, Inc. the rights to use his characters and artwork in a
planned Li'l Abner-themed restaurant franchise. Capp had also
approved the creation of a
Li'l Abner TV series, and the Dogpatch, USA
operators hoped the park and series would mutually build each other's
Dogpatch USA was profitable in its first few years, and Odom expanded
the park's amenities. By the 1970 opening day, a motel consisting of
60 mobile-home units had been completed, and a funicular to carry
guests from the parking lot to the park entrance was a few weeks away
from completion. 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. Several new attractions were added
in time for the 1972 season opening, including an "Animal World"
section with a sea lion exhibit and an aviary with exotic birds, a
children's water ride, and, as stated by the Harrison Daily Times, a
"unique boat train ride."
In August 1972, Odom announced that he was financing the construction
of a sister park, Marble Falls Resort and Convention Center, which was
the first ski resort in Arkansas. The two parks were
marketed together as a year-round attraction. The resort was ready
for the Christmas season of 1972, though a winter storm prevented it
from opening until after Christmas. The resort used snow
machines to produce enough snow for skiing; the anticipated skiing
season was December to mid-March. Marble Falls Resort and
Convention Center included ski slopes, a toboggan run[citation
needed], an ice-skating rink, the 62-unit Marble Falls Inn, 36
condominiums, and 30 rental alpine chalets, though the condos and
chalets weren't completed until after the initial
opening. Odom also opened the Antique Auto Museum as
part of the Marble Falls complex.
Odom also continued to expand Dogpatch, USA. New attractions during
the 1973 season included a go-cart track named Pappy Yokum's
Positively Petrifying Putt-Mobiles, a scrambler called Joe Btfsplk's
Impending Disaster Machine, a shooting gallery called Scraggs Feudin'
Range, a black light maze, and a swinging bridge. The Kissin'
Rocks sculpture was also newly installed for the 1973 season. In
1974, more new attractions were added, including the thrill ride
Hairless Joe's Kickapoo Barrel, an inflatable "bouncing bag," a
replica Native American village, and craft shops where artisans
demonstrated pottery making, leather working, and woodworking.
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. In a bout of
cancellations nicknamed the Rural purge, American television networks
eliminated many shows with country themes, and the popularity of
hillbillies waned. The
Li'l Abner restaurant chain was never built.
Li'l Abner TV series was never made; a pilot was produced
and premiered as a television special on ABC-TV, but it received poor
reviews and no network purchased the series.
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
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 Department of Speech and Dramatic
Arts at the University of
Arkansas to create an in-park repertory
theater in a venture called "
Arkansas Rediscovered" or the American
Revolution Bicentennial Project. The group of student
performers was named the "Boar's Head Players." Odom and the
university planned for the group to perform well-known plays and short
children's productions and to develop new plays based on the history
and culture of Arkansas. They planned for the new plays to
premiere at Marble Falls in 1976 as part of the United States
Bicentennial celebration, and then the group would tour the state
performing the new works. 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.
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. Capp's retirement brought an end to one of the
greatest advertisements for
Dogpatch USA – the
Li'l Abner comic
strip. The same year, 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 $50,000 to
$100,000 a year since it opened, the ski slopes would be closed
permanently. In subsequent years, various activities, including
grass skiing, a gaming arcade, a 400-foot water slide, and a disco,
were advertised at Marble Falls along with the resort
accommodations. New attractions included the Slobbovian Sled
Run, Grist Mill Puppet Theater, Rottin' Ralphies Rick-o-shay Rifle
Range, and Barney Barnsmell's Skunk-works. New attractions in 1978
included Li'l Abner's Space Rocket, which was intended to simulate a
flight into space.
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. New
attractions in 1980 included a trained bear act, Castle's Country
Bears, and the Shmoo, a character from the
Li'l Abner comic strip,
which appeared for the first time among the park's costumed
The heat wave of 1980, one of the worst in Arkansas's 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. Union Planters Bank put
Dogpatch USA up for sale in
order to pay off $7 million' worth of loans.
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. 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.
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. Dogpatch
admission was relatively cheap compared to other theme parks around
the country; a Money magazine survey in 1986 found that admission for
a family of four was $34 at Dogpatch, while it was $84 at Disney
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 renamed "Crystal Dome" and "
Dogpatch Caverns" became
"Mystic Caverns" again. According to Mystic Caverns' owners, the
Crystal Dome was subsequently renovated and opened to the public for
the first time in August 1981. 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
1982, Odom, under the name "Buffalo River Resorts," began selling
parcels of the resort for timeshares and condominiums; however, in
June 1983, The
Arkansas Time Share Act made it illegal to sell the
timeshares because the banks held liens on the property. A 1984
court ruling created an exception for Buffalo River Resorts, although
buyers had to be informed that the banks held liens on the property
and thus could hypothetically repossess the timeshares if Odom's
companies failed to pay their debts. This was followed by a drop
in timeshare sales.
In 1987, The Entertainment and Leisure Corporation (Telcor) purchased
a 90% stake in 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
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.
A faded billboard advertises free admission at Dogpatch, USA. The free
admission policy was introduced in 1991.
In 1988, Wayne Thompson departed, and Lynn Spradley, a
veteran of 14 years, became GM and managed the park through the 1991
season. During this time Spradley bemoaned the fact that
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
Dogpatch USA offered but on a grander scale, and was an hour's
drive to the north. What
Silver Dollar City
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
In 1991, after concerns from civic leaders that the park would not
open for the 1991 season due to financial problems, it was
indicated that if the park opened at all, it would open as a scaled
down arts and crafts park. 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.
The park was closed permanently on October 14, 1993.
The abandoned park, 2005
Security Bank of Harrison foreclosed on the Dogpatch, USA property in
order to recover $485,000 in debt from park owner Melvin Bell. On
December 20, 1994, 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
from 1968 through the 1970 season; Sprott himself had played
Earthquake McGoon and Luke Scraggs. C.L. and Ford Carr of
Leisuretek Corporation and Westek Corporation received a quit claim
for the property. At that time, however, they neglected to do
anything with the park.
In 1997, in response to a petition by residents, the U.S. Post Office
changed the name of the
Dogpatch Post Office back to Marble Falls, as
it had been prior to 1968.
In late 2002, Ford Carr 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 2005, it
was reported by
Arkansas Business that the property was for sale with
an asking price $5 million, but the price was "very negotiable."
In 2005, 17-year-old Pruett Nance was driving an ATV through the
property. Nance said he had permission from the owners to tour the
property. While riding, Nance collided with a length of wire
strung between two trees, and was severely injured and nearly
decapitated. The question of whether or not the wire was put there
maliciously, to dissuade vandalism, became the subject of a lawsuit
the Nances filed against the park's owners. The suit eventually ended
up in the
Arkansas Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Nance.
Nance was awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages and $150,000 in
punitive damages, and his father, Stewart Nance, was awarded $400,000
in compensatory damages, for medical bills. When the park owners
did not pay the judgment, the deed to
Dogpatch was awarded to Pruett
Nance, who became the new owner of the park.
Revitalization of Marble Falls
In 1988 Debra Nielson began buying parcels of the
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.
A few businesses have revived sections of the Marble Falls property.
Nielson sold some of the property to Fred Mullins, who opened an RV
Park on the site of the former campgrounds. In 2004, Nielson sold
another portion of the property, including the convention center,
motel, restaurant, ice-skating rink, and a strip mall to Bob Richards
and Randal Phillips. Phillips and his wife Debbie reopened
it as "The Hub", a motorcycle-themed resort. The Hub features a
50-room hotel and a convention facility that seats 1,500 in theater
Bud Pelsor ownership
On August 13, 2014 what was left of the park was sold again, this time
to Charles “Bud” Pelsor, the inventor of a "spill proof" dog bowl,
and his partners for $2 million. Pelsor, who had recently purchased
much of the surrounding land, announced that he planned to reopen the
park as an ecotourism village. On December 8, 2014 the park was
opened to the public for the first time since it closed 21 years
earlier. That weekend, over 5,000 visitors toured the property in
anticipation of a grand opening date in the future. Pelsor's plans
included restoring the stream, trout farm and mill, featuring music
performances, and opening a restaurant. The reopened park, he said,
would be named the Village at Dogpatch.
Three buildings burned on the
Dogpatch Grounds on February 22, 2015;
the buildings were a total loss. Newton County,
have deemed the incident "suspicious". No one was reported to be
injured in the blaze.
On May 16 and 17, the park was opened to the public for a second
time. Several music groups performed, and artisans from around the
Ozarks demonstrated and sold their crafts.
After several more events in 2015, in March 2016, Pelsor put the park
up for sale for $3 million, explaining that his business partner,
James Robertson, wanted to sell his share of the park, but Pelsor
could not afford to buy him out. Pelsor said he would happy to
remain co-owner by selling just half the park to a new business
In December of 2017 announced that he had reached an agreement to
lease the to Heritage USA, a company owned by David Hare, and not to
be confused with Heritage USA, a Christian theme park in South
Carolina that closed in 1989. Hare intends to developed the property
Dogpatch Resort beginning in March of 2018.
Trout Pond - Park visitors could rent fishing equipment and go fishing
in the pond, which was deliberately overstocked so it would be easy to
catch fish. Visitors could fish as much as they wanted and only had to
pay for the fish they caught. The
Dogpatch restaurant could prepare
and serve guests' caught fish, or
Dogpatch workers could clean and
pack the fish in ice for guests to take home.
The pond was part of a trout farm that was operated by Albert Raney
and his family beginning in the 1930s. In 1966, Raney sold the Trout
Pond to the developers of
Dogpatch USA, but the Raneys continued to
operate the pond.
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 named Mystic Caverns. It
was sold to the developers of
Dogpatch USA in 1966, who renamed it
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
Li'l Abner cartoon
character, and barricaded to preserve its pristine condition.
According to some sources, "Old Man Moses Cave" was open to visitors
in the 1969 season. Both caves were sold in 1981. "Dogpatch
Caverns" was renamed "Mystic Caverns" once more, "Old Man Moses Cave"
was renamed "Crystal Dome," and, according to the current owners of
the caves, it was at this time that "Old Man Moses Cave" was finally
opened for tours.
Peter Bella Grist Mill - This was a historic mill originally built on
the property in 1834. It was restored during the initial
Dogpatch in 1968. It fell into disrepair after the
West Po'k Chop Speshul- This was a miniature train with passenger
cars. It carried guests on a circular track around the park. At
the time of its construction, it was the first and only railroad in
Newton County, Arkansas.
Cornvention Center - This was a venue where musical performances were
Frustratin' Flyer - This was a steel Wild Mouse roller coaster. It
was a "Monster Mouse" model manufactured by the Allan Herschell
Company. Installed in 1968 for the park's debut, it operated until
Dogpatch USA brochures after 1973 continued to show a Monster
Mouse in operation. The mouse was sold between the 1991 and 1992
Earthquake McGoon’s Brain Rattler - This was a toboggan roller
coaster by Chance Rides. The ride was 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. Since 1993, the ride has operated as the Wild
& Wooly Toboggan at
Little Amerricka amusement park in Marshall,
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). As passengers
descended into the
Dogpatch USA valley they were given a short
monologue about the park over the tram's PA system.
Boat Train Ride - This ride was introduced at the beginning of the
1972 season. A motorized lead boat piloted by a
pulled a train of non-motorized boats behind it. The boats
followed a route going up creek to the Grist Mill and back again.
Hairless Joe's Kickapoo Barrel - This ride was introduced in the 1974
season. It was a rotating thrill ride.
Barney Barnsmell's Skunk Works - This was introduced in 1977. It
was a building full of complicated contraptions reminiscent of Rube
Goldberg's designs. The machinery's purpose was the production of
homemade soap; the Springfield News-Leader referred to the attraction
as the "Skunk Works Soap Factory."
Slobbovian Sled Run - This was introduced in the 1977 season.
Guests rode on sleds mounted on teflon runners. The sled run was
intended to operate similarly to a waterslide but without water.
Li'l Abner's Space Rocket - The ride was added in 1978. It was a
simulated trip into outer space.
Trash Eaters - The park had trash cans equipped with huge animal heads
that "ate" (sucked) the trash out of patrons' hands. 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".
Dogpatch Cabins - Guests could tour several cabins that were the
"homes" of various
Li'l Abner characters. These included Mammy
and Pappy Yokum's house and
Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae's house.
Some of the cabins were authentic cabins from elsewhere in the Ozarks
that had been purchased and rebuilt at the park during its 1968
Dogpatch Auto Drive - These "antique" cars were gas powered, 5/8 size,
model T cars made by Arrow Development. This ride was part of the park
when it opened in 1968. There were 7 cars in total (two red, two
yellow, and three white). The track was made of asphalt with wooden
railings around the track. On Oct. 26, 2015, a local family from
Bergman, AR purchased all 7 cars from an independent seller. The new
owners are restoring the cars and plan on keeping them together in the
Harrison, AR area. The cars are occasionally on display at local
^ a b Bowdne, Bill (2014-08-15). "For $2 million, inventor reels in
Dogpatch acres". NWA Online. Archived from the original on 2014-08-15.
^ a b Thompson, Nick (2014-12-06). "Hundreds Attend Dogpatch
Re-Opening Event". Ozark First. Archived from the original on
2014-12-15. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
^ a b c Douglas, Drew. "Breathing life back into a ghost town:
Dogpatch hosts river walk," Archived 2015-05-20 at the Wayback
Machine. KY3, May 16, 2015. Accessed May 22, 2015.
^ a b c Bowden, Bill. "Dream Still Alive:
Dogpatch USA for Sale for
$3M," ArkansasOnline (
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), March 12, 2016.
Accessed March 16, 2016.
^ a b Kitchen and Schumacher, p. 204.
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice Archived November 2, 2010, at the Wayback
^ a b c Rafferty, Milton D. The Ozarks: Land and Life. Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1980, p. 222.
^ "'Dogpatch, U.S.A.' to Rise in Ozarks," The Oklahoman, January 5,
1967, p. 38.
^ a b c d e Blevins, Brooks. "Dogpatch, U.S.A.," The New Encyclopedia
of Southern History and Culture, Volume 16: Sports and Recreation.
Harvey H. Jackson III and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., p.280-82.
^ Associated Press. "Tourist Attraction Planned Near Harrison:
Dogpatch May Be Coming to
Arkansas Ozarks," Northwest
January 4, 1967.
^ a b Brown, Rodger. "
Dogpatch USA: The Road to Hokum," Archived
2015-01-01 at the Wayback Machine. Southern Changes, Vol. 15, No.3,
1993, p. 18-26.
^ a b "Dogpatch," The Courier News (Blytheville, Arkansas), October
31, 1967, p.6.
Dogpatch Project Defended," Northwest
January 7, 1967, p.10.
^ Nelson, Rex. "
Li'l Abner to Andy Warhol," Northwest Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette, April 23, 2011.
^ a b c "Visitors to State Compare
Dogpatch to Disneyland; Conclude
It's a Big Mistake,"
Arkansas Gazette, January 11, 1967, qtd. in
Compton, Niel. The Battle for the Buffalo River. Fayetteville, AR:
Arkansas Press, 1992, p. 289.
Dogpatch U.S.A Archived 2005-07-03 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Johnson, Russell T. "Dogpatch, USA," The Encyclopedia of Arkansas
History and Culture, Updated August 18, 2014. Accessed February 4,
Dogpatch USA Comes to Life," Nevada Daily Mail, February 23, 1968,
^ a b Kitchen and Schumacher, p. 206.
^ Gilbert Jr., Allan. "To Capp It Off," Northwest
October 11, 1967, p.15.
^ United States Board on Geographic Names. Decisions on geographic
names in the United States: April through June 1968, Decision List
6802, Washington: U.S. Board on Geographic Names, p. 4. Accessed
February 6, 2015.
^ a b Harton, Greg. "
Dogpatch loses hold on people Residents change
name back to Marble Falls,"
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 18,
^ "To Become Tourist Attraction: Hurricane River Cave Outlasts the Old
Arkansas Times, October 5, 1975, p.14
^ a b The Times Staff. "Local AARP Members Enlightened About Caves,"
BolivarMONews (website of Bolivar Herald-Free Press), July 18, 2001.
Accessed March 4, 2015.
^ a b c Smith, Kenneth L. Buffalo River Country. Little Rock, AR:
Ozark Society Foundation, 1978, p. 171.
^ a b c d Simmons, Jean. "
Arkansas Fun Town:
Dogpatch Fights Btfsplk's
Cloud To Add Facilities," Dallas Morning News, June 1, 1970, section
G, p. 2.
^ a b c Ford, Edsel. "Lots of Schmooburgers, But Nary a Po'k Chop,"
Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 1968.
^ a b c "Crash Construction Progress Underway At Dogpatch, USA,"
Arkansas Times, February 23, 1968, p.7.
^ a b c d e f Ford, Edsel. "Now Li'l Abner's
Dogpatch Has Zip Code,"
The Chicago Tribune, October 27, 1968, Section 6, p. 2.
^ Anderson, Fenwick. "Comic Heroes: Popular Culture on a Pedestal,"
Studies in Popular Culture, Vol.9 No. 2: 1986, p.91.
^ a b Clark, Ellen. "Formal Opening Scheduled May 18 for Dogpatch,
U.S.A.," Joplin Globe, May 3, 1968, p.15.
^ a b Klump, Edward. "
Dogpatch U.S.A. for sale on eBay - Missouri
owner hopes defunct theme park will bring $4 million," Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette, October 26, 2002.
Dogpatch Park Dedicated By Al Capp," Hope Star (Hope, Arkansas),
October 4, 1967, p.12
^ Blevins, Hill Folks, 263.
^ Blevins, Hill Folks, 264
^ a b Davis, Daphne. "Council envisions to purchase deserted theme
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 9, 1997, Section 1B.
^ Hicks, Linda. "Flea-bitten
Dogpatch seems bound for sale block,"
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 10, 1997, p.24.
Dogpatch is Sold to Little Rock Man," Hope-Star (Hope Arkansas),
October 28, 1968.
^ a b c d e Jones, Melissa M. "Patching up
Dogpatch - New owners hope
renovations attract tourists," Northwest
February 19, 2007.
^ Rogers, Aaron W. Maumelle (Pulaski County), Encyclopedia of Arkansas
History and Culture, updated December 11, 2013. Accessed February 6,
^ Gilbert Jr., Albert. "Hello! Hello! Is That You, Li'l Abner?"
Arkansas Gazette, August 30, 1988, p.8.
^ a b "
Dogpatch U.S.A.", a new attraction, opens on May 30, Joplin
Globe, May 28, 1969, p.7.
^ a b c d "The History of Mystic Caverns," Mystic Caverns, Accessed
February 20, 2015.
^ a b c Braymer, Donna. "
Mystic Caverns Ideal for Hot Summer Days,"
BolivarMONews (website of Bolivar Herald-Free Press), June 12, 2001.
Accessed March 4, 2015.
^ Former P.R. Dept. employee
^ Associated Press. "Ex-Gov. Orval Fabus Weds Mrs. Elizabeth
Westmoreland," New York Times, March 22, 1969, p. 37.
^ Associated Press. "Fabus Headed for Dogpatch," Tuscaloosa News,
January 16, 1969, p.20.
^ planktonrules (26 December 2008). "
'It's Alive!' (TV Movie 1969)".
^ Nagle, James A. "Longchamps Planning 'Li'l Abner' Food Franchise,"
New York Times, July 18, 1968, p. 48.
^ a b Hollis, Tim. Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the
Twentieth Century. University Press of Mississippi: 2008, p. 226.
^ a b "It's '
Dogpatch Home Folks Week' Here All Next Week," Harrison
Daily Times, April 21, 1972, p.1.
Arkansas Offers Skiing and Conventioneering," The Daily Herald
(Chicago, IL), August 3, 1972, p. 33.
^ a b c "1st Ski Run Sets Opening in Arkansas," Dallas Morning News,
August 27, 1972, Section D, p. 9.
^ "Double Your Fun at the Great Twin Parks in the Ozarks," Harrison
Daily Times, May 15, 1974, p.49.
^ "Snow Delays
Dogpatch Ski Site Opening," Dallas Morning News,
December 17, 1972, Section D, p. 10.
^ a b P.P. "Marble Falls, Arkansas: Ski Dogpatch," Ski, January 1975,
^ a b "With Snow on The Ski Slopes: Marble Falls Winter Resort Is Set
to Open Day After Christmas," Harrison Daily Times, December 13, 1972.
^ a b "'Self-Sufficiency' Is Key to
Dogpatch Growth," Harrison Daily
Times, December 5, 1973, p. 1.
^ a b "
Dogpatch USA Opens Saturday With New Rides, Attractions,"
Harrison Daily Times, May 1, 1974, p.1.
^ "Television Reviews: Li'l Abner," Variety, April 28, 1971, p. 46.
^ Shain, Percy. "
Li'l Abner Sets Back Cause of TV Musical Comedy,"
Boston Globe, April 27, 1971, p. 46.
^ a b Bowden, Bill. "Old Marble Falls Resort Becomes New Biker Hub,"
Arkansas Business, March 7, 2005.
^ a b c d "A Bicentennial Drama Series: Unique, Innovative Theatrical
Programs Slated for Dogpatch," Harrison Daily Times, April 25, 1974,
^ a b Official Master Register of Bicentennial Activities. 4th ed.
Washington: American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, January
1975, p. 5-102.
^ "Department of Theatre - J. William Fulbright College of Arts and
Sciences - University of Arkansas". Archived from the original on 8
^ "Mr. Dogpatch," Time, November 19, 1979. Accessed February 4, 2015.
^ Oppenheim, Carol. "Al Capp's denizens of
Dogpatch run out of time:
Al Capp puts
Li'l Abner out to pasture," Chicago Tribune, November 9,
1977, p. A1.
^ a b c d
Dogpatch USA. Advertisement. Dallas Morning News, April 23,
Dogpatch USA. Advertisement. Dallas Morning News, April 30, 1979,
^ a b c
Dogpatch USA. Advertisement. Dallas Morning News, April 24,
1977, Section C, p.3.
Dogpatch USA. Advertisement. "
Dogpatch USA--Showplace of the
Dogpatch Dispatch, Summer 1980, p.1
^ a b c d In Re:
Dogpatch U.S.A., Inc., Debtor,
Inc., Appellant, v.
Dogpatch U.S.A., Inc.; FirstSouth, Formerly
Batesville Federal Savings and Loan Association; Wynne Federal Savings
and Loan Association, First Federal Savings & Loan Association of
Stuttgart, Arkansas, Appellee;
Arkansas Real Estate Commission; Jess
P. Odom and Willastein J. Odom, 810 F.2d 782 (1987 U.S. App. as
amended February 26, 1987).
^ a b c Rodman, Mike. "Plans Left Open for Dogpatch, USA," Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette, January 7, 1995.
Dogpatch USA has reunion," Marianna Times-Courier, June 3, 1982,
^ Houston Chronicle News Services. "Vermonters say make fall
reservations now," Houston Chronicle, July 13, 1986.
^ Associated Press. "Arkansas' Waste King Wants Not Toxic Waste
Disposal's The Basis of a Multimillion-Dollar Real Estate Empire,"
Philadelphia Daily News, January 23, 1987.
^ Lewis, Bill. Gannet News Service. "Arkansas's three theme parks are
gearing up for their big season, summer, with new attractions, new
rides and new entertainers," USA Today, May 24, 1989.
^ "Bell among new owners of
Dogpatch USA park".
January 7, 1987. p. G1:3. first1= missing last1= in
Authors list (help)[citation not found]
^ "So long Daisy Mae. (possibility that theme park in
Arkansas Business. 1991-02-04. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
^ "The quiet canary. (opening of theme park
Dogpatch USA)". Arkansas
Dogpatch Updates Image, Lengthens Its Season," The Oklahoman, July
^ a b Brazzel, Kyle. "I was a teenage vamp - Six former Daisy Maes
recall their days embodying the cartoon blond bombshell at Dogpatch,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 6, 2003.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved
^ a b Blomely, Seth. "Justices OK verdict in accident at Dogpatch,"
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette', December 17, 2010.
^ Hibblen, Michael (2011-05-17). "New owner ponders future for former
Dogpatch USA". KUAR. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29.
^ Haller, Brad. "Return of
Dogpatch USA: New Owner, New Plans?".
Ozarksfirst.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved
^ Lisa, Broadwater (December 1999). "This HELP could inject new life
into Marble Falls".
^ Roberts, Stacey. "2 Hope to Ride Biker Bonanza to Prosperity,"
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 17, 2004.
^ a b Magditch, Doug. "
Dogpatch USA Theme Park, Now a Ghost
Town:Property May Change Hands Again," KSPR-ABC33, March 3, 2010.
Accessed February 5, 2015.
^ "Welcome to The Hub--Mid America's Motorcycle Resort," The Hub,
Accessed February 5, 2015.
^ a b Bowden, Bill. "'It's bringing back lots of memories' - 5,000
visitors tour theme park",
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 9,
^ Barnhill, Sean and Eric Hilt. "Fire at closed
Dogpatch USA appears
suspicious," Archived 2015-02-23 at the Wayback Machine. KY3, February
22, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2015.
^ Map of
Dogpatch City Limits [map], Scale not given, c.1970-71.
^ a b c Mosley, Valery. "A Photo Story: A New Dream for an Old Theme
Park," Springfield News-Leader, March 22, 2015. Accessed April 15,
^ a b Blevins, Arkansas/Arkansaw, 159.
^ a b "Frustratin' Flyer," RCDB (Roller Coaster Database), Accessed
March 2, 2015.
^ "Earthquake McGoon's Brain Rattler," RCDB (Roller Coaster Database),
Accessed March 2, 2015.
^ "Wild & Wooly Toboggan," RCDB (Roller Coaster Database),
Accessed March 2, 2015.
^ Colter. PICT0260. Photograph. Pointed Stick. Colter. June 20, 2004.
Accessed March 2, 2015.
^ a b c d White, James L. "
Dogpatch Boats Sink, Rides May Not Work,"
BolivarMoNews, November 22, 2004. Accessed March 3, 2015.
^ White, James L. "'This Place is Magical;' New Owner of
Passion for Restoration," HarrisonDaily (website of Harrison Daily
Times), September 3, 2014. Accessed March 4, 2015.
^ Giroux, Lisa Kilgore. "Remembering
Dogpatch in its Heyday,"
HarrisonDaily (website of the Harrison Daily Times), October 22, 2014.
Accessed March 4, 2015.
^ a b Dogpatch, USA. Have A Heckuva Day at Dogpatch, USA! [brochure].
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