Frontier Town buildings could be demolished soon

If there was any hope of restoring the closed Frontier Town amusement park to any sort of former glory… this news pretty much quashed that hope.

According to the upstate New York website Sun Community News, legislators have discussed with the Essex County Board of Supervisors the need to demolish and dismantle the original remaining structures on the old Frontier Town parcel of land.  Essex County currently owns the Frontier Town property, and attempts to sell the land to private ownership have failed.

The old structures that have survived twenty years of neglect and ennui – including the wooden chapel, the rodeo stadium, the restaurant and the “Western Outfitters” main street – are covered in branches and greenery, as Mother Nature tamed what bandits and rustlers couldn’t tame.

Log Chapel
Log Chapel on Frontier Town property. Kodak Medalist II, Kodak EIR infrared “Aerochrome” film with yellow-orange filter. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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There have been several plans offered by both Essex County and prospective property purchasers.  The park could be a connecting point to a 40-mile hiking and snowmobiling trail.  A Cabela’s or a Bass Pro Shops outdoors megastore would be a perfect location for Adirondack hunters and fishers.

But right now, the only people interested in visiting the park are urban explorers of abandoned structures, and county officials worry that someone will get injured in these unsafe, crumbling buildings.  So the structures have to go.

This is rough.  I’ve blogged about Frontier Town in the past, about what this amusement park meant to the local community in terms of entertainment and identity and jobs.  But as times changed, so too did the need for amusement parks that dotted the Adirondack Northway from Albany to the Canadian border.  And most of the parks disappeared.  Only a few still remain – The Great Escape, Santa’s Workshop, Waterslide World… while the others have drifted into our cultural memories and shared moments.

I wish places like Frontier Town were still around.  Heck, I even thought that one of these other Adirondack amusement parks might do well by acquiring a building or two from the Frontier Town parcel and relocating it to their own campus.

But I guess this is what happens over the years.  Mother Nature and Father Time are both cruel and benevolent.  They give us this short time upon this planet, and then it stops, like the switched-off illumination from a light bulb.

And maybe those hikers and snowmobilers will find a new appreciation for what was once the home of cowboys and rustlers and the like.

We can only hope.

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4 thoughts on “Frontier Town buildings could be demolished soon”

  1. Very sad. I can just barely remember being at Frontier Town with my parents when I was VERY young. I guess nothing lasts forever, and I can understand the Town of Essex’s concern over the potential of a trespasser being injured, even though they aren’t supposed to be there.

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  2. So sad to read of this..New Frontier Town Book out–Plus Feb 21 2016 there is a reunion of old cowboys that used to rodeo there.. Kids nowadays will never have these kinds of memories. What a shame

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  3. I remember attending the “North-O-Ree” at Frontier Town in the Spring of 1978. It was a Boy Scout event with US and Canadian scouts. Hundreds of scouts descended on Frontier Town. What a blast. I was there with Troop 2 from St. Andrews in Albany. I still have the patch.

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