Silver Dollar City

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Silver Dollar City
Sdc logo.gif
LocationBranson, Missouri, U.S.
Coordinates36°40′02″N 93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389Coordinates: 36°40′02″N 93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389
OwnerHerschend Family Entertainment
General ManagerBrad Thomas
OpenedMay 1, 1960 (54 years ago) (1960-05-01)
Operating seasonMarch - December
Visitors per annum2 million[1]
Area61 acres (250,000 m2)
Rides
Total22
Roller coasters6
Water rides4
Websitehttp://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com
 
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Silver Dollar City
Sdc logo.gif
LocationBranson, Missouri, U.S.
Coordinates36°40′02″N 93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389Coordinates: 36°40′02″N 93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389
OwnerHerschend Family Entertainment
General ManagerBrad Thomas
OpenedMay 1, 1960 (54 years ago) (1960-05-01)
Operating seasonMarch - December
Visitors per annum2 million[1]
Area61 acres (250,000 m2)
Rides
Total22
Roller coasters6
Water rides4
Websitehttp://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com

Silver Dollar City is a theme park in the state of Missouri. Opened on May 1, 1960, the park is located between Branson and Branson West on Missouri Route 76. The park is an 1880's-themed experience that fits Branson's vision as a family-friendly vacation destination with down-home charm. Silver Dollar City's operating season runs from mid-March until late December, with the park closed during the months of January and February. Silver Dollar City is owned by the Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns, operates or partners in 25 properties in 10 states and includes the nearby water park, White Water; water excursion and theatre, the Showboat Branson Belle; water and land tour attraction Ride the Ducks.

History[edit]

Marvel Cave[edit]

Marvel Cave entrance and rubble pile viewed from within

Silver Dollar City has developed into one of the most successful theme parks in the United States. Situated at the site of one of the Ozarks' oldest attractions, Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City figuratively sprang from the ground. The cave, which has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, is important not only because of its subterranean features but also because of its role in the origins of Silver Dollar City.

The first oral record of Marvel Cave comes from the Osage Nation, while the first written record dates from an 1869 expedition. Henry T. Blow of St. Louis, a lead mining magnate, explored the cave with six miners. They found no lead before returning to St. Louis, but convinced that the flat ceiling of one room was composed of marble, they originally named the cave Marble Cave.

The cave remained undisturbed until 1882 when another group of entrepreneurs, led by Mr. T. Hodges Jones and Truman S. Powell of Barton County, entered the cave in hopes of finding lead. Jones and Powell found huge amounts of bat manure, or guano, and the flat wall, which they also believed to be marble. Two years later Jones bought the property and, with several of his friends, formed the Marble Cave Mining and Manufacturing Company to mine the cave. The company planned a town, Marble City, on the rough hilltop near the cave and in 1884 recorded a plat map at the courthouse in Galena, Missouri. Although a few lots in the new town were sold, little development seems to have taken place. By 1889 much of the guano had been mined from the cave, the marble wall proved to be limestone, and no lead ore was found. The mining company, which had developed so quickly, ceased operation.

The history of the cave took another turn in 1889 when William Henry Lynch, a Canadian miner and dairyman, purchased the cave and a square mile around it for $10,000. Lynch, with the aid of his family, proposed to open the cave to sightseers. The Lynches began operation of the sightseeing venture in 1894 with a grand celebration and a few visitors. The venture was not immediately profitable and was closed until Lynch raised additional capital to reopen the cave sometime after 1900. The cave has remained open since, making it one of the oldest continuously running tourist attractions in the Ozarks.

Herschend family[edit]

When William Lynch died in 1927, ownership of the cave passed to his daughters. Shortly thereafter, the name of the cave was changed to Marvel Cave. The Lynch family operated the cave for nearly fifty years until a Chicago vacuum cleaner salesman, Hugo Herschend, purchased a 100-year lease on the cave.

After Hugo Herschend's death, five years after he began managing the cave, his wife, Mary, took over the day-to-day operations of the venture. With the aid of her two sons, Jack and Peter, Mary Herschend was able to make vast improvements to the cave, including a narrow gauge funicular railway, whose trains pulled visitors a distance of 218 feet (66 m), from the depths of the cave up to the surface.

Once the railway was in operation the Herschends felt the development of the cave was complete and immediately began to search for ways to expand their growing attraction. Anticipating additional tourists to the Ozarks, they wanted to create an attraction which would attract even more tourists to the cave.

New theme park[edit]

Following Hugo's death in 1955, Mary, Jack and Pete began building the 1880s Ozark village. Mary was committed to authenticity and preservation—there would be no cheap storefronts. She also insisted on preserving the natural beauty of the area, particularly the trees. The Herschends built the Ozark frontier town on the land surrounding the site of the cave. Silver Dollar City originally was the site of five shops, a church, a log cabin, and a street production reproducing the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys several times daily.

The new attraction was named by Ozark Jubilee script writer and publicist Don Richardson after the promotional idea of giving visitors silver dollars in change (he was hired as the park's public relations director after the show ended).[2] The scenic designer for much of the original attraction was Andy Miller, who had been the set designer for the Jubilee in nearby Springfield. Opening day, May 1, 1960, included appearances by Uncle Cyp and Aunt Sap Brasfield and announcer Joe Slattery from the Jubilee, three Springfield TV personalities, and 18,000 visitors.[3] The first year, Silver Dollar City drew more than 125,000 people, four times more visitors than the number that toured Marvel Cave. "We discovered we were in the theme park business," Pete Herschend said.

In 1972 Genevieve Lynch, the last of William Lynch's daughters, died and she bequeathed the land under Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave to the College of the Ozarks and Branson Presbyterian Church.[4] The Herschends continue to operate it.

In 1976, the Herschends purchased the Goldrush Junction theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, which they renamed Silver Dollar City Tennessee. In 1986, Dolly Parton bought into the park and it was renamed Dollywood.

Pop culture[edit]

The park gained much public notice when the Clampett family of CBS-TV's The Beverly Hillbillies decided to pay a visit to Silver Dollar City (treated as an actual town, rather than a theme park) to start off the 1969-1970 season. The plotline involved Granny (Irene Ryan) attempting to find a husband for Elly May (Donna Douglas) back in the hills, while Jed (Buddy Ebsen) socialized with hotel clerk Shorty Kellems (Shug Fisher). They visited the blacksmith Shad Heller, soapmaker Granny Ethel Huffman, and woodcarver Peter Engler, and Miss Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) was seen in the Ozark woods. The Hillbillies were from the area surrounding Silver Dollar City and Branson, and references to Jim Owens and his White River float trip business and some Missouri mountain locations were made throughout the show's nine-year run. Five episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies were eventually shot in the park.

In 1999, Silver Dollar City was the site for the 14th annual Stihl Timbersports Series Championships. Jason Wynyard, 26 of Auckland, New Zealand topped the field of 12 of the world's best axemen for the third year in a row. Four thousand spectators were on hand at the Echo Hollow Amphitheater to watch the most recognized logging competition worldwide. It was the fourth year that the Stihl Finals were hosted in Branson. "Timber" Tina Scheer of The Great Maine Lumberjack Show was the host.

On December 5, 2007 ABC's Good Morning America spotlighted the park’s Christmas festival, “An Old Time Christmas,” and declared it as one of the top five holiday events in the country. The park was featured as part of the show’s segment called “Good Morning America Lights Up the Holidays.”

On July 5, 2007, Silver Dollar City was featured in an episode of the soap opera As The World Turns.

From June 21–23, 2009, the park hosted the American Coaster Enthusiasts' national summer convention, welcoming coaster enthusiasts from around the country and Canada.

It was featured in the book The Man Who Loved Clowns.

Layout, attractions and general information[edit]

Districts[edit]

Silver Dollar City is divided into nine distinct districts.

Demonstrations[edit]

Rides and attractions[edit]

Wildfire

Festivals[edit]

Throughout the operating season Silver Dollar City hosts six different festivals:

Recurring shows[edit]

Stages, multipurpose buildings and theaters[edit]

Former rides[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stefanoni, Andra Bryan (2012-08-09). "Silver Dollar City unveils $10 million roller coaster". The Joplin Globe. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  2. ^ Brothers, Michael A. "'Ozark Jubilee': a Musical Legacy" (March 2, 2003), Springfield News-Leader, p. 1C
  3. ^ "Missouri Spot Opens May 1; Draws 18,000" (May 9, 1960), The Billboard, p. 103
  4. ^ Missouri Roadsides: The Traveler's Companion - Bill Earngey - University of Missouri Press (October 1995) - ISBN 0-8262-1021-X
  5. ^ Surviving Steam Locomotives in Missouri
  6. ^ Steamlocomotive.info - Missouri

External links[edit]