Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flashback: Dogpatch U.S.A. 1984

Li'l Abner was an incredibly popular and successful comic strip that appeared in tons of newspapers for most of the 20th century.  The story followed the misadventures of a kooky cast of bumpkins in the fictional Appalachian town of Dogpatch.

The strip became so popular that in 1968 an 800 acre Li'l Abner themed amusement park opened in Arkansas.  It closed in the early 90's but for several decades it thrived and welcomed visitors from all over.  After going through some old photo albums I learned that apparently my grandparents (and great aunt & uncle) were among them.

Other than the old Alley Oop park in west Texas, it's hard to think of a comic strip that made the transition into the tourist destination genre.  Sure, Charlie Brown and the gang may show up at Knott's Berry Farm but other than some statues in a park in Minnesota they haven't gone "full theme park" yet.

Like any good theme park, Dogpatch had costumed characters for your enjoyment.  Characters from the strip came alive like the hero, dim-witted Abner:

And of course, his love interest (with whom he was ridiculously uninterested) Daisy Mae:

Thankfully, the gang picked up some postcards so we can get a better look at the place:

They were also able to snag some (what I assume are called) Dogpatch Dollars.  I don't know if they were meant to be used the same way as "Disney Dollars" or if they were just goofy souvenirs but here's a couple of bucks worth:

These days Dogpatch U.S.A. is in ruins with pretty much all of the interesting decor picked clean by souvenir seeking scavengers.  From time to time there is talk about a possible re-opening but I think the only way to visit will be through old photo albums.