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Western theme park now a crumbling ghost town

May 2018

In the Adirondack Mountains north of Albany, New York, families once flocked to Frontier Town, a Western theme park in the Town of North Hudsen, where costumed re-enactors would provide an interactive glimpse of American history.

Opened on Independence Day in 1952 by owner Arthur Bensen, visitors to the 267-acre park where could watch robbers ambushing trains and stagecoaches and engaging in shootouts with the Sheriff and his deputies and “hangings” of gunslingers. Ladies would demonstrate butter churning and yarn spinning, serving pea soup cooked over a fireplace in an iron kettle.

Bensen’s original vision for the park was more of a pioneer village, but it was changed to a Western village when appropriate costumes failed to arrive. Bensen headed back to New York City and all he could get was cowboy costumes.

The park consisted of things like log cabins, a church, a saloon, a mill, a jail, a music hall, a store selling Western clothing, horse stalls, animal enclosures and a rodeo ring with grandstands.

Families could ride around the park in stagecoaches and or a train.

At its height, up to 3, 000 cars from across the country could be found in the parking lot. The popularity of Frontier Town was a boon to North Hudsen, with numerous motels and even a grocery store opening nearby.

Frontier Town closed in 1998, a victim of things like changing entertainment tastes and other options for family vacations.

The opening of the Addrondack Northway highway in the 1960s that diverted travelers around the North Hudsen didn’t help either.

The closure of Frontier Town was devastating to the town of just 240 residents. All the motels and the grocery store ended up closing including the Frontier Town Motel, which was owned by Delafrange, the last owner of the park, who kept it open for a few years after the park itself closed.

The property saw several owners come and go until it was finally seized by Essex County in 2004 due to a delinquent tax bill of $318, 000. The stagecoaches, trains, tracks, buggies and covered wagons were sold at an auction held near the property.

In April 2018, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the ground-breaking an ambitious $25