LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Bass Pro Shops announced that the buyer of the abandoned Dogpatch theme park in Newton County is its founder.
Though the identity of the buyer was kept a secret, the mailing address was disclosed as Springfield, Missouri, the city where Bass Pro is headquartered, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Johnny Morris bought the 400-acre site earlier this year for $1.12 million; previous owners had been trying to sell the property since 2016 for $3 million.
Dogpatch USA originally featured a trout farm, buggy and horseback rides, and entertainment by characters from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip. Amusement rides were added later.
The details haven’t been determined, Morris plans to preserve the Dog-patch property as “a nature experience for future generations to enjoy,” according to a news release from Bass Pro.
Morris and his team will be evaluating which buildings can still be salvaged and restored. According to the release, the top priority is "restoration of the large natural spring and bringing back to life the renowned trout hatchery and many future fishing opportunities.”
Arkansas state Rep. Keith Slape, R-Compton, said he’s been on Morris’ other properties and is expecting big things for Newton County, which is in his state House district.
“It will be something, especially if we get through the COVID,” Slape said. “It will be quite a tourist destination. It’s adjacent to the Buffalo National River. Plenty of wildlife to look at. It’s pretty country.”