WARSAW, Mo. — A shuttered 1800s-inspired theme park nestled away in a wooded area in central Missouri is up for sale to the tune of $295,000.
Current owner Marion Shipman and his family built the tourist attraction, located at 24025 Cumberland Gap Avenue in Warsaw, about 55 miles west of the Lake of the Ozarks.
When it opened in 1979, guests only had to pay a general admission fee of $3 to get a glimpse of what life was like in the area in the 19th century.
The pioneer-style village sits on 20 acres of land and is made up of more than 20 buildings – including two authentic cabins from the 1830s, a steam-powered grist mill, an old jail, a schoolhouse, a general store, a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a post office, and a cozy one-bedroom cottage that the owner lives in.
Shipman, 64, knew he wanted to build a history-themed attraction of this sort when he first visited Silver Dollar City at 6 years old. At the time, he and his family lived in Independence, Missouri.
“As soon as I saw that place, I thought I needed to build one of these,” he told FOX 2. “I mean, it’s not something a 6-year-old kid usually thinks, but I started planning.”
His vision began manifesting when his grandmother and step-grandfather purchased the land in 1966.
“It was trees and rocks and a little cabin, and so I thought, ‘Man, I got a place to do it now,’” Shipman recalled.
As a teenager in 1975, Shipman began building the blacksmith shop. Then came the general store. These two structures, alongside a little shed for soapmaking, were the first attractions at the park.
Shipman said his family eventually joined the passion project after realizing he “wasn’t going to give it up.” His grandma Ruth and mother Hazel spent their time quilting and making products, like dolls and pincushions, to sell in the store while his father Con and brother Ross helped with construction.
The family devoted countless hours revamping the property to give guests something new to experience each year. They also held festivals in October, which drew nice-sized crowds.
“We’d tear down a building during the summer and build something with it during the winter every year,” said Shipman. “So, every year, we had this little circle of locals that would come at the beginning of every season to see what new thing we had built.”
He said business peaked around 1982, leading up to the difficult decision to close the park about a decade later.
“We actually shut down officially at the end of the season in 1995,” Shipman said. “In 2005, I moved back down here with my wife and two kids.”
Before closing in the mid-’90s, Shipman initially tried to sell the property in 1989 to no avail.
“We listed it and never had a single person to come and look at it, not a single one,” he said.
This time around, he hopes to close a deal with the right buyer who’s just as passionate about the era and reviving the attraction. He said he’s currently in talks with someone interested in doing just that.