Bass Pro’s Johnny Morris announces purchase of old Dogpatch USA, reveals vision
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release/KY3) -
Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris announced the purchase of the former Dogpatch USA theme park property in Newton County, Ark.
Morris says in a statement to KY3, plans for the property remain in the early stages of exploration. He says any possible future development will be an extension of Morris’ signature experiences help families connect to nature and each other.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to restore, preserve and share this crown jewel of Arkansas and the Ozarks so everyone can further enjoy the wonderful region we call home,” said Morris. “We’re going to take our time to restore the site, dream big and imagine the possibilities to help more families get back to nature through this historic and cherished place.”
The site is located near the legendary Buffalo National River, which flows through 135 miles of breathtaking natural scenery. One of the few remaining un-damned rivers in the lower 48 states, the Buffalo is the first river to receive special designation from the National Park Service. Dogpatch USA opened in 1967 as a theme park featuring a trout farm, horseback rides, and various amusement rides and attractions. During the height of its popularity in the late 60s, the destination attracted 300,000 annual visitors, but attendance gradually declined before closing in 1993. While there have been numerous owners, the site has been vacant for the past several years with many of the remaining structures in a dilapidated state.
The property’s next chapter will be an ode to the heritage of the Ozarks and the abundant wildlife and natural beauty found here. One top priority is restoration of the large natural spring and bringing back to life the renowned trout hatchery and many future fishing opportunities.