Peek inside this incredible abandoned theme park



Slide 1 of 28: Known as Ghost Town in the Sky, this abandoned Wild West-themed amusement park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, has seen as many ups and downs over the decades as its old roller coaster. Here we explore Ghost Town from its heyday to its decline, through eerie images courtesy of Abandoned Southeast and photographer Leland Kent. Read on to explore this unusual abandoned theme park…
Slide 2 of 28: In 1960, R.B. Coburn, a Virginia-born businessman, purchased Buck Mountain, a mountaintop site towards the bottom of the Great Smoky Mountains, with grand plans to build his own theme park. The site overlooked the town of Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
Slide 3 of 28: More than 200 local workers were hired to build around 40 life-sized replica Wild West-style buildings inspired by Coburn's visits to other American ghost towns. The buildings perched right on the mountain's peak would eventually make up the park’s main attraction, known as Old West.
Slide 4 of 28: Ghost Town was created by former Disney designer Russell Pearson and reportedly cost around $1 million to build. According to Abandoned Southeast, the park spanned roughly 120,000 square feet (11,148sqm) of land. Around 200,000 feet (61,000m) of plywood, 300,000 (91,400m) feet of lumber and 20,000 lbs (9,000kg) of nails were used to construct the old-fashioned buildings.

Slide 5 of 28: The park opened its doors to the public in 1961 and was immediately a huge success. It was promoted as “North Carolina’s mile-high theme park” and became one of the state's most popular and visited attractions throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Slide 6 of 28: To visit the park, passengers had to board a double incline railway to the top of Buck Mountain. The exciting journey included multiple slopes towards the peak, varying from 30 to 77 degrees in steepness, and afforded picturesque views overlooking Maggie Valley.
Slide 7 of 28: In 1962, Coburn installed a two-seater chairlift built parallel to the incline railway to take even more visitors up to Ghost's Town's entrance. It reportedly moved at a rate of 310 feet (94m) per minute and could transport up to 1,200 visitors per hour.
Slide 8 of 28: At the time, the impressive chairlift, which climbed more than 1,250 feet (381m), was apparently North Carolina's longest. Sadly as the years passed, like the rest of the park, the chairlift suffered from more and more problems and began to break down.
Slide 9 of 28: Ghost Town comprised of several different towns located at different heights of the mountain. They included Mining Town, Mountain Town, Indian Village and Old West. Pictured are the buildings located on the main street of Old West which are still pretty well preserved. In fact, live shoot-outs were staged every hour in the middle of this street. Visitors would line up on the sidewalk for the best view of all the action. More recently, the abandoned Western town has been used as a location for a number of films such as Dean Teaster's Ghost Town (2007), Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (2008) and Ringside Rosary (2010).

Slide 10 of 28: At the height of its popularity, Ghost Town attracted thousands of guests every year. In the early 1970s, the park welcomed 400,000 visitors during its peak seasons, from families to Wild West enthusiasts.
Slide 11 of 28: Located at the heart of Ghost Town was the theme park’s most popular spot, Old West. The town, which is still mostly intact, included a replica bank, saloons, a church, jail and more to re-create an authentic Wild West experience for guests.
Slide 12 of 28: A lot of the action happened on the town’s main street. Visitors could live out their Wild West dreams and catch a live country music show at the Red Dog Saloon or enjoy can-can dancers putting on a performance at the Silver Dollar.
Slide 13 of 28: Ghost Town also had its fair share of amusement rides which were added over the years. They included the park’s famous Red Devil coaster (later re-named Cliffhanger), Casino, bumper cars and Sea Dragon. Discover America's most jaw-dropping roller coasters only for the brave
Slide 14 of 28: The Red Devil coaster, one of Ghost Town's main attractions, opened in 1988. Unusually, the steel coaster's boarding station was at the top of a hill. It then rolled around a 90-degree curve into the main drop and an inverted loop.

Slide 15 of 28: Unfortunately under Coburn’s ownership, the park reportedly suffered from poor maintenance and bad management which eventually led to its downfall. Although it's claimed that Coburn spent thousands of dollars trying to maintain the park, Ghost Town's attractions would regularly break down.
Slide 16 of 28: The chairlift and incline railway especially needed constant and expensive maintenance. In 2002, things went from bad to worse when the chairlift malfunctioned and trapped passengers, leaving them stranded. A few days later, Coburn closed the park for good and put it up for sale.
Slide 17 of 28: Ghost Town stayed closed for the next five years and the park fell into a further state of disrepair. The park’s desperate need for major renovations and the prospect of high maintenance costs made it a hard sell for any future owners.
Slide 18 of 28: Ghost Town reopened in 2007 under new ownership. Millions of dollars had been spent on restoring the park and its rides. Some rides and the double incline railway were never fully operational again but new attractions were added.
Slide 19 of 28: A brand new area called Heritage Town Square opened in an attempt to attract more visitors and families. Located at the chairlift terminus, the spot included a themed restaurant.
Slide 20 of 28: In true cowboy fashion, Heritage Town Square also had a mining-themed shooting gallery. Pictured are sinister headless mannequins decked in Western-style clothing, some of the spooky remains of the abandoned area.
Slide 21 of 28: In 2007, the Red Devil was renamed the Cliffhanger after a much-needed makeover. However, massive repairs were required and its opening was pushed back to 2009.
Slide 22 of 28: Sadly, the Cliffhanger was short-lived. After it opened in 2009, state inspectors found something wrong with one of the ride's seats. It was closed again for repairs and failed to pass a test run in 2010. It was shut down indefinitely.
Slide 23 of 28: The Ghost Town train was another attraction that didn't reopen in 2007. Today the engine and carriages are slowly being taken over by nature. Take a look at more ruins where Mother Nature ran riot.
Slide 24 of 28: Sadly, ticket sales in 2008 were "sluggish" and, combined with the effects of the economic recession, the park went into debt. In early 2009, Ghost Town's owners failed to secure any further funding and declared bankruptcy.
Slide 25 of 28: Despite strong fears that the park wouldn't reopen for the 2009 season, the owners were able to secure help from a private business owner. Ghost Town opened in May but suffered another poor few months. Smoky Mountain News reported that it failed to cover its operating costs and workers didn't receive their last weeks of pay.
Slide 26 of 28: After a rocky year in 2009, more bad luck befell the park. In February 2010, a mudslide partially damaged the park and also blocked one of its access roads. On top of that, more financial problems plagued Ghost Town and it didn't open for the year's season.
Slide 27 of 28: Two years later, businesswoman Alaska Presley bought the Ghost Town property at auction for $2.5 million. Unsurprisingly, the park required repairs that cost millions of dollars and over the next few years, parts of Ghost Town opened sporadically, some areas only temporarily. Take a look inside more of America's abandoned theme parks.
Slide 28 of 28: The park closed for good in 2016 and Presley decided to sell up. While there were hopes for a new buyer, a company called Ghost Town Adventures, to refurbish and reopen the park in 2019, those plans were shelved. Smoky Mountain News reported that the park is once again under contract, but this has not been confirmed. Only time will tell whether the park will be restored to its glory days. Now take a look at American tourist attractions that no longer exist

Spooky shots

Known as Ghost Town in the Sky, this abandoned Wild West-themed amusement park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, has seen as many ups and downs over the decades as its old roller coaster. Here we explore Ghost Town from its heyday to its decline, through eerie images courtesy of Abandoned Southeast and photographer Leland Kent. Read on to explore this unusual abandoned theme park…

Big plans

From vision to reality

A huge investment

Welcome to Ghost Town in the Sky

Stunning scenery

Chairlift up the mountain

Long way to the top

A sprawling park

Ghost Town comprised of several different towns located at different heights of the mountain. They included Mining Town, Mountain Town, Indian Village and Old West. Pictured are the buildings located on the main street of Old West which are still pretty well preserved. In fact, live shoot-outs were staged every hour in the middle of this street. Visitors would line up on the sidewalk for the best view of all the action. More recently, the abandoned Western town has been used as a location for a number of films such as Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town (2007), Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (2008) and Ringside Rosary (2010).

Peak popularity during the 1970s

Old West had it all

Wild West-style entertainment

Brimming with attractions

Ghost Town also had its fair share of amusement rides which were added over the years. They included the park’s famous Red Devil coaster (later re-named Cliffhanger), Casino, bumper cars and Sea Dragon.

Discover America’s most jaw-dropping roller coasters only for the brave

The Red Devil coaster

Thing started to go wrong

The end to Coburn’s ownership

Closed for business

The park reopens

New additions to Ghost Town

A brand new area called Heritage Town Square opened in an attempt to attract more visitors and families. Located at the chairlift terminus, the spot included a themed restaurant.

Shooting gallery in the Heritage Town Square

The Red Devil becomes the Cliffhanger

A series of unfortunate events

Ghost train goes bust

The Ghost Town train was another attraction that didn’t reopen in 2007. Today the engine and carriages are slowly being taken over by nature. Take a look at more ruins where Mother Nature ran riot.

Things went from bad to worse

Sadly, ticket sales in 2008 were “sluggish” and, combined with the effects of the economic recession, the park went into debt. In early 2009, Ghost Town’s owners failed to secure any further funding and declared bankruptcy.

The downward spiral continued

Despite strong fears that the park wouldn’t reopen for the 2009 season, the owners were able to secure help from a private business owner. Ghost Town opened in May but suffered another poor few months. Smoky Mountain News reported that it failed to cover its operating costs and workers didn’t receive their last weeks of pay.

Mudslide hits Maggie Valley

Another (partial) reopening

Two years later, businesswoman Alaska Presley bought the Ghost Town property at auction for $2.5 million. Unsurprisingly, the park required repairs that cost millions of dollars and over the next few years, parts of Ghost Town opened sporadically, some areas only temporarily. Take a look inside more of America’s abandoned theme parks.

What does the future hold for Ghost Town?

The park closed for good in 2016 and Presley decided to sell up. While there were hopes for a new buyer, a company called Ghost Town Adventures, to refurbish and reopen the park in 2019, those plans were shelved. Smoky Mountain News reported that the park is once again under contract, but this has not been confirmed. Only time will tell whether the park will be restored to its glory days.

Now take a look at American tourist attractions that no longer exist

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