Stack's Liberty Ranch

Stack's Liberty Ranch American Theme Park Museum
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120 acres of your fondest theme park memories - and some new adventures, too! Watch for future opening.

Hmmm, closed theme parks, cancelled events and empty stadiums. It's easy to see why no one likes that kind of disruption...
03/13/2020

Hmmm, closed theme parks, cancelled events and empty stadiums. It's easy to see why no one likes that kind of disruption. But this, too, shall pass. Take heart!

Here's how Anaheim's Angel Stadium looked when empty in August 1970. Wow, fifty years ago!

Here's a fantastic old artifact from Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica, California! The original hand painted Sea Serpe...
03/06/2020

Here's a fantastic old artifact from Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica, California! The original hand painted Sea Serpent roller coaster sign. The seal photo is from a 3D slide a tourist snapped about 1960. There's the coaster in the background!

'Then & Now' comparisons are always so much fun! How about another from Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park? This one is pr...
02/27/2020

'Then & Now' comparisons are always so much fun! How about another from Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park? This one is pretty remarkable. That little girl is posing on an old bike sometime in the mid 1950s - and here's a shot from just last week proving that little has changed near the ruins of that same adobe wall. Sixty-some years later, even the holes where the metal bracket screws held the bike are still apparent!

A well known fixture on Beach Blvd in Buena Park from 1982 to the mid 80s, Kingdom of the Dancing Stallions offered visi...
02/21/2020

A well known fixture on Beach Blvd in Buena Park from 1982 to the mid 80s, Kingdom of the Dancing Stallions offered visitors the chance to see royal performing horses up close. Sadly, the owners of the operation suffered health issues and were forced to close the attraction prematurely. This building's story ends well, however, as the Medieval Times dinner show restaurant chain took over the site and have been operating successfully there ever since.

Well, after searching for something appropriate to post for Valentine's Day it seems apparent that there's little in the...
02/14/2020

Well, after searching for something appropriate to post for Valentine's Day it seems apparent that there's little in the collection that's very romantic theme park-wise! But San Francisco cable cars might be close, huh? Let's take a 'Then and Now' look at Knott's Cable Car Kitchen area. The first image is from 1962 and the second just a few days ago. Same view!

Rhinoceros feeding time at Lion Country Safari, Irvine CA - 1971. How about that long line of cars! Grab your 1976 coupo...
02/07/2020

Rhinoceros feeding time at Lion Country Safari, Irvine CA - 1971. How about that long line of cars! Grab your 1976 coupon and come on in!

Dogpatch USA, Marble Falls, Arkansas - 1968. Dogpatch USA opened to the public on May 17th, 1968. Here was found a playf...
01/31/2020

Dogpatch USA, Marble Falls, Arkansas - 1968. Dogpatch USA opened to the public on May 17th, 1968. Here was found a playful Ozark themed amusement park based on Al Capp's popular comic strip, Li'l Abner. Filled with authentic log cabins and worn out structures brought in from other backwoods areas, Dogpatch gave guests a close up look at Al Capp's hillbilly cartoon world. Railroad and trail rides, trout fishing, homespun crafting shops and 'Earthquake McGoon's Brain Rattler' roller coaster all offered guests a day filled with fun. While the park had a fairly decent 25 year run, the anticipated annual attendances never quite reached predicted levels and the park eventually closed in 1993. Word is today the park may see a new re-building soon!

Knott's Berry Farm's parachute jump - 1977. Loading up for a long drop from high above the Roaring 20's themed airfield!...
01/24/2020

Knott's Berry Farm's parachute jump - 1977. Loading up for a long drop from high above the Roaring 20's themed airfield! Good times!

Here's a remarkable photo from the very early days of the Disneyland Autopia. It gives us a view, with significant  clar...
01/15/2020

Here's a remarkable photo from the very early days of the Disneyland Autopia. It gives us a view, with significant clarity, of the troubles and trials the attraction was undergoing just after opening. The image is so good that, well, we thought, who better to comment on the historic nature of what we are seeing than our friend Bob Gurr! He was there, after all, running the show, so to speak. Here's Bob's thoughts...

Howdy Ken…

Your photo of Autopia surely reminded me of the hard times we were going thru with the attraction. I was slowly figuring out the reason for every mechanical failure, designing a fix, then duplicating it on 39 ride cars.

You can see that we added a sunshade annex to our skid-box tiny shop. The train created hourly misery since it had to blow the whistle for the track crossing just to the right of the photo.

The guy standing in the middle sorta looks like me, I always wore gray J.C. Penny slacks and a white collared shirt with the short sleeves rolled up…so maybe that was me in the photo, which looks to be around mid-late August 1955. I was at Autopia 7 days a week from around July 1st thru the end of September.

Cheers…Bob

Freedomland USA, New York City - 1960. Here's an interesting comparison shot for your consideration today. This is the O...
01/10/2020

Freedomland USA, New York City - 1960. Here's an interesting comparison shot for your consideration today. This is the Old San Francisco section of short lived Freedomland, seen during the theme park's glory days back in 1960. The park failed and closed just four years later. By May of 1971 the park would be in demolished ruins. We are reasonable certain this second photo is a general view of the same area you see in the first. You may compare the two sections of stair steps to the left.

We trust that all of you survived the holidays and are ready for an exciting new year! Here's a follow up to our Decembe...
01/03/2020

We trust that all of you survived the holidays and are ready for an exciting new year! Here's a follow up to our December 13th post from a few weeks back. As promised, a look at the Ark Park at Universal Studios Hollywood. Sometime around 1970, or shortly thereafter. That's one big pony!

Warm Christmas wishes to all!
12/24/2019

Warm Christmas wishes to all!

As 2019 comes to a close, we'd like to share with you one of the first restoration projects on the agenda for Liberty Ra...
12/20/2019

As 2019 comes to a close, we'd like to share with you one of the first restoration projects on the agenda for Liberty Ranch in the coming year. That is, the repair and rejuvenation of Paul Von Klieben's wonderful 1948 Steak House paintings from Knott's. We were lucky enough to rescue a number of these large, classic paintings at auction a few years ago and now it's time to get them back in shape! They are currently battle worn and weary - and the restoration will be lengthy and costly - but we think the end results will be worth the effort! Please join us, and watch this space, as we move forward and bring these masterpieces back for your enjoyment in 2020! In the meantime, enjoy this look back at a fantastic menu from the Steak House back when things were hopping there!

A colorful, little close up of Universal Studios Hollywood entertainment center map circa Fall of 1970. Today, things su...
12/13/2019

A colorful, little close up of Universal Studios Hollywood entertainment center map circa Fall of 1970. Today, things sure have changed up there on the hill top! Harry Potter and friends dominate this area now.

Legend City sale notice - park closed in 1984. Tempe, Arizona's Legend City theme park was an ambitious attempt to dupli...
12/06/2019

Legend City sale notice - park closed in 1984. Tempe, Arizona's Legend City theme park was an ambitious attempt to duplicate Disneyland's success in the Arizona desert near Phoenix. Though the park struggled along for twenty years (1963-1983), locals remember the park with warm memories. Seen here, an earlier sale notice for the park - probably in the mid 1970s. Featuring an Old West theme, Legend City had a number of well developed theme rides, including Cochise Stronghold, an adventurous river ride similar in style to Disney's Jungle Cruise. The bubble style gondola ride you see here might look familiar. This was the second version of Legend City's Sky Ride - and those gondolas were purchased at previous auction when Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica closed in 1967!

Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate a distinctly American holiday, let's talk about a distinctly American idea for a theme ...
11/27/2019

Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate a distinctly American holiday, let's talk about a distinctly American idea for a theme park. One that features Davy Crockett! Though few today might remember, Fess Parker was once well known to television audiences across the country as the handsome and affable actor who portrayed both American heroes Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. He famously helped Walt Disney sell millions of 'coonskin' caps in a craze that swept the country in the 1950s. Building on his fame, Parker approached Boone County, Kentucky in 1968 with the obviously marketable idea of building his own theme park based on American folklore and heroes, to be named Frontier Worlds (or World in some press releases). Parker had purchased 76 acres near Walton with an option for more and sold the plan to elected officials. Seen here, three of the rarest (though blurry) images in the Liberty Ranch collection showing the press event of the announced park. What a beautiful place!
Unfortunately, Kings Island had their eyes on the same general area to construct a theme park. The unfolding project sapped the enthusiasm from Parker and his backers and they were forced to move on. Kings Island was eventually built while Parker's Frontier Worlds, sadly, was not. What might have been stirs the imagination.
Parker went back to California, but not without a hope for resurrecting his park plans in the early 1970s. He owned substantial acreage in the Santa Clara area and hoped to find investors for his park in that location. He reportedly had even met with McDonalds Corporation founder Ray Kroc who seemed interested in the project. Again, it was not to be and his plans fell away over time. Parker moved on to wine making and other investments. For America, another wonderful park idea disappeared - along with another wish for what might have been. -- Enjoy your turkey dinner!

Ride 'Lil' Dinney FREE! Unknown roadside attraction - about 1960. Prehistoric fun on a concrete dinosaur! Your 'free rid...
11/15/2019

Ride 'Lil' Dinney FREE! Unknown roadside attraction - about 1960. Prehistoric fun on a concrete dinosaur! Your 'free ride' might be brief.

Knott's Berry Farm, Civil War Band - 1977. A big salute to all veterans on this special day. Thank you for your service!
11/11/2019

Knott's Berry Farm, Civil War Band - 1977. A big salute to all veterans on this special day. Thank you for your service!

Let's share a few uncommon postcards from Knott's Berry Farm today. This caricature of Sheriff 'Dad' Lewis by Claude Bel...
11/01/2019

Let's share a few uncommon postcards from Knott's Berry Farm today. This caricature of Sheriff 'Dad' Lewis by Claude Bell is an absolute gem! Claude Bell was a master at his craft; responsible for most of the iconic cement sculptures in the park. Some are still found there today. It was rumored that the likeness of 'Dad' Lewis was once slated to be cast in stone by Claude, as well! How about those 'free roaming' buffalo in image three? This area would be about where Boot Hill sits today - give or take. And lastly, one of the earliest images of the famed Catawampus at Knott's Berry Place! Probably captured on film about the mid 1940s. It seems the original critter was somewhat taller! --- Just a reminder, for those of you interested, limited copies of Volume One of the Liberty Ranch Collection are still available but they are disappearing quickly! This is a full color picture book for those of you interested in theme park history. When Volume One runs out they are gone for good - and Volume Two is currently in the works! Ordering information can be found at StacksLibertyRanch.com - Thanks, folks!

Anyone heading out to the Anaheim Halloween Parade tomorrow? Here's a look at the 1953 program. We're including an image...
10/25/2019

Anyone heading out to the Anaheim Halloween Parade tomorrow? Here's a look at the 1953 program. We're including an image of the Kwikset float, designed that year by the Disney Studio!

Here's a very cool Disneyland contest from 1957! A cross promotion between Hyde Park Dairy Milk, TV cowboy star Hopalong...
10/18/2019

Here's a very cool Disneyland contest from 1957! A cross promotion between Hyde Park Dairy Milk, TV cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy and Disneyland, this contest seems to have stacked the deck heavily in favor of the milk company! You need to buy multiple cartons of their milk to even enter the thing! But there's some pretty fabulous prizes. Including the grand prize of a trip to Disneyland with ONE of your guardians. Sorry dad, sorry sis - we'll tell you all about it when we get back. So yes, Hyde Park will be sure to advertise the glories of Disneyland AND the glories of Hoppy. Hmm, the glories of Hoppy? Okay, maybe. That's one excited copy writer.

Here's a nifty little diversion for your Friday. It's Giggle Ridge in Cultus Lake, Canada! Who could ever get their fill...
10/11/2019

Here's a nifty little diversion for your Friday. It's Giggle Ridge in Cultus Lake, Canada! Who could ever get their fill of conceptual drawings? Especially for a fun-sized theme park! Giggle Ridge was apparently a fifteen year dream for the Sawatzky family - finally built and realized in 2000. Twelve years later, the park was sold to new owners in 2012 and renamed Cultus Lake Adventure Park. The site sits on a remarkably compact one and a half acres! Wow! The original park map seen here depicts the little park long ago. Today, the same ground is packed with flat rides and fun. It looks like a nice, well designed place on the website. But here's the best part; legendary ride builder Bud Hurlbut seems to have had a hand in a bit of the early railroad consulting work for the park in the late 1990s! Makes sense; the theme was an early logging camp in the '30s. It's unclear whether that little locomotive logging train you see pictured ever made it past the drawing board. But you sure can see a bit of Bud's influence in the design!

The Liberty Ranch Collection - Volume One. Signed, limited edition copies are available now! If you like theme park hist...
10/03/2019

The Liberty Ranch Collection - Volume One. Signed, limited edition copies are available now! If you like theme park history, we hope you'll enjoy the first book in the Liberty Ranch Collection. Available in both soft and hard cover copies, this is a limited publishing run - when they run out, they're gone! The price point is a little strong to cover publishing costs for this full color picture book, but we pay all shipping and taxes! Plus, for added value, each soft cover book will come with one vintage cancelled check from the Hurlbut Amusement Company, signed years ago by Ray or another company officer. Each check is different, of course. Orders for hard cover copies will receive an additional vintage advertisement flyer from the older Hurlbut Amusement Equipment Company in Whittier! That's some real theme park history for you as a bonus. Interested? Head over to StacksLibertyRanch.com to order your copy or contact directly here. Thanks, folks!

Corriganville, California in 1962 and... your first peek at The Liberty Ranch Collection Volume One!  The books have fin...
09/30/2019

Corriganville, California in 1962 and... your first peek at The Liberty Ranch Collection Volume One! The books have finally arrived! Here's a glimpse at the Corriganville chapter introduction to accompany today's post; an image that did not make the book. Eight fascinating, historic theme parks are featured in our limited edition volume one - every image new and previously unseen! If you are a fan of Corriganville (or Quintin Tarantino's new movie 'Once Upon A Time Hollywood', which was filmed on the former site) we think you'll enjoy volume one's Corriganville chapter very much. We will have information on ordering soon!

Six Flags Over Texas - July 1963. With the spooky season upon us, what better time to look at a couple skulls? The first...
09/26/2019

Six Flags Over Texas - July 1963. With the spooky season upon us, what better time to look at a couple skulls? The first image gives us a nice look at the foreboding skull at Six Flags Over Texas long ago. The second, for comparison, was taken the same year at Disneyland, near the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. Clearly, one park had a better skull designer than the other! That said, at least you could climb inside the eyeballs in Texas!

Knott's Berry Farm's Roaring Twenties area - sometime in the mid 1970s. A great view of the Pilot's 'Rec' area. Get it? ...
09/20/2019

Knott's Berry Farm's Roaring Twenties area - sometime in the mid 1970s. A great view of the Pilot's 'Rec' area. Get it? Get it? Funny stuff! Plenty of exciting game fun to be found here. Knott's did it right. Toss a baseball, win a prize. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Paramount Ranch, Agoura Hills, CA. - 1964. Wide eyed visitors got a up close look at movie magic at Paramount's inland '...
09/13/2019

Paramount Ranch, Agoura Hills, CA. - 1964. Wide eyed visitors got a up close look at movie magic at Paramount's inland 'ocean'. The film they are preparing to shoot here is unknown. Chime in if you have a guess!

Walt Disney inside Disneyland - 1966. What a treat it must have been for this tourist to find Walt filming a television ...
09/06/2019

Walt Disney inside Disneyland - 1966. What a treat it must have been for this tourist to find Walt filming a television program on the day of their visit!

As August comes to a close and we head into Labor Day weekend, let's take one last swim this summer - at Marineland's Ba...
08/30/2019

As August comes to a close and we head into Labor Day weekend, let's take one last swim this summer - at Marineland's Baja Reef! Opened in 1979, Baja Reef was one of Marineland's last attempts at boosting attendance at the struggling Palos Verdes, California oceanarium. The attraction came too late to boost Marineland's attendance, and only a lucky few experienced the Baja Reef swim through lagoon while it operated. The park is long gone now, closing in 1987, and like so many summers of the past, we are left with only fading snapshots or distant memories. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Knott's Berry Farm is planning their big 100th birthday celebration next year! Let's take a ride in our time machine tod...
08/16/2019

Knott's Berry Farm is planning their big 100th birthday celebration next year! Let's take a ride in our time machine today and go back 72 years to see what a visit to our favorite berry farm looked like in 1947! Yes, that's Beach Boulevard - or is it the intersection at Grand? Wow, Buena Park never looked more enticing. These colorful Kodachrome slides come from an awesome set snapped by an out of state tourist. Thank you unknown visitor!

The incredible mixed media conceptual painting for a Calaveras County theme park. Imagine an entire park built around th...
08/08/2019

The incredible mixed media conceptual painting for a Calaveras County theme park. Imagine an entire park built around the stories of Mark Twain and American folklore! Masterfully created by legendary artist Wes Cook in 1991 for Landmark Entertainment, this map depicts the proposed Valencia, California park that was, sadly, never realized. The park included dark rides brought to life by the skilled hand of Disney legend Marc Davis (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion). Wow, what could have been! This artwork is massive. We hope you enjoy these brief views for now.

Here's an interesting piece we are just getting ready to frame for closer examination. It's the 1969 height guide for th...
08/02/2019

Here's an interesting piece we are just getting ready to frame for closer examination. It's the 1969 height guide for the commercial recreation area surrounding Disneyland. As you may know, sight lines from within Disneyland were strictly followed in the past. No one wanted to see high rise hotels and other buildings from inside the park. That would ruin the magic. While the blueprint is dated 1969, it's curious to note that the footprint of the park seen here is earlier than that - perhaps 1964 or so. There's the Flying Saucers! The post today is a little drab and colorless, so let's brighten things a bunch with a swell 1964 slide of one of the Disneyland groundskeepers lighting Tiki torches near the entry to the Tahitian Terrace! Sure, it's a little blurry but it's an uncommon look at the everyday!

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All of your fondest theme park memories - and some new adventures, too! Watch for future opening.

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