New Life Ahead for Abandoned Dogpatch Theme Park

MARBLE FALLS, AR (KOLR) - What might be the most talked about abandoned theme park in America is under new ownership. Plans are in the works to renovate the old Dogpatch Theme Park.

"Everything is still here, it's just incredibly overgrown," says new owner, Charles "Bud" Pelsor.

Abandoned since 1993, time and vandalism has taken a toll on the Li'l Abner theme park that once saw upwards of 8,000 visitors a day.

"There's the water slide, in fact here are some of the remnants of the old boat," he says while walking across a bridge overlooking green water," says Pelsor.

Pelsor bought the property for $2 million. The new owner of Dogpatch is not only a dog lover, but also the inventor of the "spillproof" dog bowl.

"I feel like Dogpatch needed me, honest to goodness," Pelsor says, "I see the stone work, the gardens, I see everything like it was, maybe better."

Pelsor says he hopes to create an eco-friendly destination. He plans to preserve the waterfalls, bridges, tram, and turn one of the old mills into a restaurant.

He also hopes to add orchards and vineyards, while restocking the spring-fed trout farm with more than just trout.

"Margarita mussels, it's an indigenous species," Pelsor says.

Pelsor says before the natural beauty of the cliffs can be enjoyed a "gentle" cleaning has to happen first.

"Oh, it's like finding treasure," he says. "Even when you're just whittling your way down to stone steps and a terrace you didn't know was there."

While each building will be taken on a case by case basis, Pelsor says he wants to preserve every piece of Dogpatch that he can.

"Everything is real solid, this is in real good shape," he says while walking though a vandalized building, full of broken glass.

While Pelsor says he can't promise arcades and photo booths, he does hope to preserve what he sees as the heart of the park.

"The train is one of those things that made Dogpatch, we have the infrastructure here, and I would like to get the train back."

Pelsor says he hopes to once again draw in the kids of the past, by getting input at public meetings in the future.

"The chapel, the falls, the mills, the whole place it just seems to be spiritual, and it appears to be that way to a lot of people," he says. "[I'm] willing to listen to anybody, I want it to be something that everybody is proud of in Newton County and in Arkansas."

While Pelsor hasn't put a price or a timeline together for the restoration, he hopes to have the chapel up and running for weddings in the Fall.

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