Bass Pro founder buys Dogpatch theme park

story.lead_photo.captionAfter Dogpatch’s closing, salvageable rides were sold to various parks. Those that remained, like the Wild Water Rampage, cast a stark silhouette against the rugged landscape.

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has purchased the abandoned Dogpatch theme park in Newton County.

Bass Pro made the announcement on Tuesday.

“While specific plans for the property remain in the early stages of exploration, any possible future development will be an extension of Morris’ signature experiences that help families connect to nature and each other,” according to a news release from Bass Pro. “Natural beauty, quality craftsmanship, attention to detail and family fun are the hallmarks of every project Johnny pursues.”

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to restore, preserve and share this crown jewel of Arkansas and the Ozarks so everyone can further enjoy the wonderful region we call home,” Morris said in the news release. “We’re going to take our time to restore the site, dream big and imagine the possibilities to help more families get back to nature through this historic and cherished place.”

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on June 5 that the 400-acre site had sold for $1.12 million, but the identity of the buyer was unknown at that time.

Constructed in 1967 for $1.33 million, Dogpatch USA originally featured a trout farm, buggy and horseback rides, an apiary, Ozark arts and crafts, gift shops and entertainment by characters from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip, according to the Central Arkansas Library System’s Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Amusement rides were added later.

In 1968, the first full year of operation, the general manager reported that Dog-patch had 300,000 visitors.

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