Photo Essay: Return to Storytown U.S.A.

A long time ago, I acquired a vintage View-Master reel of some attractions at Storytown, U.S.A.  I bought the reel with the intentions of producing an article on the history of View-Master product, but that project fell through.

Still, as part of the project, I attempted to scan in the original images off the View-Master reel – which was really tough to do.  I needed to scan the images at about 3000 dots per inch, while shining a light behind each tiny little slide as the flatbed scanner’s white light scanned the picture from beneath.

Here’s the original View-Master reel from 1956:

Slide 1 - The Little Red Schoolhouse
Slide 2 - The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe

And, after much experimentation, I was able to scan the original slides off this reel. I apologize for the quality of the images; these were designed to be viewed in those classic View-Master devices.

Slide 3 - Cinderella Pumpkin Coach in Village Square
Slide 4 - Visitors entering the Whale

One of the things to realize with regard to this View-Master reel is that there were once several different amusement parks in the Adirondacks – places like Frontier Town and Gaslight Village and the Land of Make Believe, all of which are barely memories today.

Image 5 - Wishing Well and Toy Shop
Image 6 - Feeding the Three Little Pigs
Image 7 - Storytown Chapel

Interestingly, the question for me, after scanning those images, is – are these buildings and structures still at the Great Escape, 50+ years later?

Because Storytown U.S.A. evolved over time.  It added the western-themed Ghost Town.  It added a jungle park.  It added a waterpark.  It added the Comet roller coaster and the Steamin’ Demon.  It added the Desperado Plunge and the Black Cobra.  It even added a new name (The Great Escape) – and eventually, a new ownership group (Six Flags).

But it also removed many rides over the years.  Some were relocated to other places on the park grounds, others were disassembled and left in a secret location known colloquially as the “Graveyard.”  The park also purchased several rides and structures from amusement parks that no longer exist – Freedomland and Crystal Beach and a few others come to mind.  Some of those rides are still at the Great Escape today; others are stored in this long-forgotten graveyard, hoping one day to be re-assembled and re-located in a new area of the park.

A few years ago, I found some vintage home movie slides that were part of an extensive photographic collection – my wife’s parents took zillions of photographs, and there were reels and reels of slide carousels, all neatly stacked on shelves in our basement.  I pulled some of those slides, purchased a device that converts slides into digital photographs, and saved many of those slides to a digital storage media.  Again, very few of the original buildings on the Storytown / Great Escape grounds are still in their original location, and the photograph of Ghost Town’s legendary sheriff, Wild Windy Bill McKay, is definitely young enough to actually capture the varmints rampaging through Ghost Town.  Hopefully the below slide show brings back some memories of Storytown for you.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

I know that as the Great Escape progresses and adds new rides and new attractions, some of the classic “gentle” rides and shows aren’t there any more.  So this is a gentle request for the operators of the Great Escape.  Somewhere on the grounds, you must have some place where you can re-assemble some of the vintage buildings and gentle rides, and maybe re-create a vintage version of Storytown, circa 1950’s or 1960’s, and let us all take a trip back to those days – without having to rely on vintage photographs, long-forgotten slide and 8mm home movies – to bring back the fun we all experienced so many years ago.  This isn’t a request to take away the new rides – if I don’t go on the Comet at least 6 times in a visit, then it’s not a fun visit for me – but maybe it would be nice to ride Danny the Dragon and travel through the Tornado ride just once more.

Am I right, readers?