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Frontier Town

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Just got some 8mm home movies of Frontier Town from 1961 & 1964. I knew the gist of the park but completely taken aback that they actually held mock hangings! How gruesome. Wholesome family entertainment in my book. How long did they do this? Bang-bang your dead then dropping over is one thing, however, writhing on a rope as you’re strangled to death is another. No one had a problem with this back then?

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Was this the one in NY?

I guess hangings are macabre to be sure, but then again all of those western shows also included a number of shootings. I guess family fun was a tad different then.

I have some slides of Frontier Town, Santa's Village, Land of Make Believe, etc. waiting to be scanned. I had some great times upstate as a kid.

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Yup, the one in New York.

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I remember Frontier Town from a family vacation in 1973. Union soldiers lined us kids up in the fort after a mock recruitment, then put us to drill.

There were massive piles of horse manure everywhere, and the soldiers appeared to deliberately stomp through the stuff to display their "toughness".

My baby sister and I were then put on a donkey powered swing ride. I was placed on the back of an ox by a one armed man who claimed to have lost the other arm from the same ox he was putting me on. I was then put in a barber chair, lathered up, and given my first shave with a straight razor.

We then took a scenic train ride which was interrupted by a train robbery. One of the masked robbers pointed a pistol right in my face and cocked the hammer.

So at the tender age of 7 I had a razor to my throat, a gun to my face, was traumatized by one armed grownup and had horse manure all over my sneakers. Nice vacation destination! I'm glad it closed.

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I visited Frontier Town. I can still picture it right off of the Northway (the exit before Westport and Elizabethtown as I recall). It was one of the many great theme parks in the Adirondacks in those days--all built to accommodate the hordes of boomer kids of that time. It is long closed (it closed in the early 1980's and then reopened only to close for good about five or six years ago). There was an auction of all of their equipment etc. in August of 2006, I believe. Many of the buildings do remain, however. There is an excellent website devoted to The Land of Make Believe" in Upper Jay, NY (about 15 miles from Lake Placid) and it provides a powerful tribute to owner and designer Arto Monaco and his brilliant creations for children.

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Arcadia has a book on the Adirondack theme parks with some great pictures. I don't recall Frontier Town being in it but they covered several of the parks up that way.

Those were great years to be a kid on vacation in that area. Sadly almost all of the parks are gone now.

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FrontierCity.jpg

Don't know if it was owned by the same company or just inspired by the original-- but there's an amusement park outside Oklahoma City called FRONTIER CITY that is now much more corporate, but used to be a very rustic, wild west themed park. And every hour on the hour, there was a full-blown gunfight in the streets with the Sheriff gunning down outlaws right and left. Men fell over bannisters, died in watering troughs, and bit the dust in every direction. I remember being repeatedly thrilled and terrified by the entire thing... and I know I turned out relatively okay... but now as a parent, I can't imagine wanting to "entertain" my own small kids with that level of violence.

frontier_city_oklahoma.jpg

Frontier City Website

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Bill, you are correct. Most of those ADK parks are gone. However, there is some good news. Santa's Workshop has reopened and is refurbished and many of Arto Monaco's creations are in excellent condition. Furthermore, many of his works from The Land of Make Believe (just a few miles from Santa's Workshop) were moved to Great Escape in Lake George. Also, there is an effort to restore several remaining structures at the Land of Make Believe and the old gift shop and entrance building is going to become the home of the local historical society.

I have to look for that Arcadia book.

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I remember going to Frontier Town and taking a stage coach ride. We were held up an i remember the cowboy asking me if I had any silver on my teeth. Scared me to death. They also dunked criminals in a pond on a big chair in order to get them to confess. Story Town, Gaslight Village, Catskill Game Farm, Carson City, all great places.

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They also dunked criminals in a pond on a big chair in order to get them to confess.

That's in my footage too.

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We were held up an i remember the cowboy asking me if I had any silver on my teeth. Scared me to death.

They pull a similar stunt on the steam train for tourists that travels to the Grand Canyon. Scared my five year old-- and he doesn't even have any fillings!

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I have a lot of great memories of all of these parks also. I think the only one we never visited was the Land of Make Believe. I still can't believe our beloved Catskill Game farm is really gone.

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Different area. The Catskills are off to the west as you head up from NYC, on what is called the Southern Tier. The parks in this thread were up in the Adirondack Mountains, north of Albany. The Catskill Game Farm was on the far eastern edge of the Catskills, closer to Albany than to the Borscht Belt resorts.

Here's the Arcadia book with a look at some of the pages:

http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/mm5/merch...Code=0738544701

No Frontier Town though.

I've been following the Land of Make Believe restoration and think that it's great to see the progress they've made. That was a great spot to go as a kid and I was sorry it was gone when I was in the area with my own family years later.

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I know what you mean about the Catskill Game Farm. My Uncle lived in the Catskills and we would visit them and the farm every year. I was there the day before it closed and took pictures of everything (including the rain shelters). I loved that place.

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Possibly. Not sure what I’m going to do with it, most likely I’ll keep it. I bought the reels to get the NYWF footage of the Quaker Puffed Rice girl being blown out of a cannon. The rest is just bonus. Also a cute clip of a girl dressed for Halloween as Emmett Kelly.

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Mike, most of the parks were clustered either near Lake George or Lake Placid (both in the Adirondack Park).

Margaret, I had almost forgotten Gaslight Village. I went there as a kid. Is Fort William Henry still operating? I remember it was a reconstruction of a British fort built on Lake George. Wasn't Gaslight Village right near it? And one more question: Was Great Escape once called Story Town?

Jim

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Mike, most of the parks were clustered either near Lake George or Lake Placid (both in the Adirondack Park).

Margaret, I had almost forgotten Gaslight Village. I went there as a kid. Is Fort William Henry still operating? I remember it was a reconstruction of a British fort built on Lake George. Wasn't Gaslight Village right near it? And one more question: Was Great Escape once called Story Town?

Jim

Hi Jim, yes Fort William Henry is still there and they still shoot the cannons off. Gasslight Village was right next door. We used to go there alot when we moved out of the Story Town age. Gaslight Village closed several years ago along with the wax museum. Most of the buildings are in bad shape. You're right again about The Great Escape being Story Town. They have kept many ols Story Town things. Those were the days!!!

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I stopped by and took a look at the Gaslight Village site in July. Will get some pictures online later. It was just sold off to a non-profit group as part of a plan to restore some wetlands in the Lake George area, so the remaining buildings will be coming down soon.

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Margret, I have been told that many of Arto Monaco's structures from The Land of Make Believe are now at Great Escape. Have you seen any of them? I have to stop by there sometime and see for myself. There is actually a display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake with scale models of many of Monaco's creations. I remember them from when I was a kid and the fact that many of them are in Lake George, today, is wonderful.

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Margret, I have been told that many of Arto Monaco's structures from The Land of Make Believe are now at Great Escape. Have you seen any of them? I have to stop by there sometime and see for myself. There is actually a display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake with scale models of many of Monaco's creations. I remember them from when I was a kid and the fact that many of them are in Lake George, today, is wonderful.

Hi Jim, I have not been to Great Escape in awhile. I only live about 45 minutes from there, so I really have no excuse. Maybe next summer.

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