You Won’t Believe This Abandoned Hillbilly Theme Park Is Hiding In The Hills Of Arkansas
Not far from a place called Booger Hollow (population: 7, countin’ 1 old coon dog) lies Dogpatch USA, an abandoned hillbilly theme park nestled in the hills of the Ozarks that once created memories for thousands of families across the U.S.
The park was the vision of O.J. Snow, who bought land in the Ozarks on Highway 7 between Jasper and Harrison, Arkansas. Snow realized the layout of the land closely resembled the area featured in the popular comic strip “Li’l Abner,” so he decided to bring the fantasy world to life. Original 19th century mountain cabins were plucked from the hills board-by-board and log-by-log with the help of local farmers and carpenters. They now rest sadly within the silent park.
Dogpatch USA opened on March 17, 1968, welcoming over 8,000 visitors at the grand opening, back when hillbilly was cool. The family-friendly amusement park included horseback riding, paddle-boating, water slides, craft shops, and musical entertainment. Dogpatch was closed permanently on October 14,1993 due to financial struggles.
For years, I pined for a way to get inside the closed park to capture some history with my camera. I zoomed my lens from the side of the highway. I climbed the gates and pressed my forehead against the bars while my husband helped steady me. Then, one day, the park was opened to the public for a weekend in October 2015.
I stood with my husband in a quiet spot down by the the old grist mill and tried to imagine 8,000 people here all at once. If the rundown walls of Dogpatch USA could talk, oh the stories they could tell!
My inner hillbilly could almost hear the laughter and smell the food, and if ya listened real quiet-like in the middle of the night, I’ll be darned if ya couldn’t hear the sweet sound of the banjos and fiddles bouncin’ off them thar hills.