Across the street from the Dinosaur World near Mammoth Cave is a theme park even more unusual. Nestled there on the hill is what’s left of the deserted amusement park known as Funtown Mountain.
Originally called Guntown Mountain, the park opened in 1969 as one of the many roadside attractions capitalizing on the crowds of tourists visiting nearby Mammoth Cave. The Wild West-themed park continued to operate for decades before closing its doors in 2013 after a decline in popularity.
Two years later, Will Russell was on a walk in Cave City when he saw that Guntown was for sale. He had a vision for restoring and reopening the property as “Funtown,” without the cowboy gun shows for which it was originally named. To raise the necessary final funds, he took to the road with a promotional traveling circus. The plan was simple and old-fashioned, much like Russell’s dreams for Funtown Mountain. There would be a truck and an Airstream trailer filled with the performers of the “Carnival of Fun Roadshow,” a band, and a menagerie of freakish animals and other strange memorabilia would go on a 20-state promotional tour. What could go wrong?
Plenty. Ticket sales were dismal, two of the circus performers broke up soon after getting on the road, the band bailed on one of the tour dates, prompting the tour manager to call in a favor from his old friend, the “Dancing Outlaw,” Jesco White. The wheels literally fell off the truck. Russell lost thousands on the disastrous tour. Still, despite the odds, Funtown Mountain reopened albeit in a limited capacity in 2015. Its “Grand Awesoming” was a modest but fun carnival event, held at the base of the defunct chairlift, which had been deemed unsafe by inspectors. However, the doomed park didn’t even last a year; riddled with controversy, it closed its doors for good that September.
If you visit Funtown Mountain today, you can’t yet see what its next incarnation will be. But the “F” slapped onto “Guntown” and a few original structures still standing at the base of the decommissioned chairlift nod to its tumultuous past. A small information kiosk, the Haunted Hotel, and the Funtown Souvenir Shack presumably preview what you would see atop the mountain if there was still a way of getting up to it. The buildings are boarded-up and visibly weathered, paint peeling and adorned with tattered American flags. The site is a shadow of its former self, and if you look close, it still carries evidence of its notorious demise.
Know Before You Go
The site is currently closed but the base of the park is easily accessible. Take exit 53 off Interstate 65. Huckleberry Knob Road is directly across from the entrance to Dinosaur World on the south side, and will take you past the Onyx Cave Rock Shop to what is left of the amusement park at the base of the decommissioned chairlift.
- I took out the Louisville references as L-ville is a good 100 miles from this site.
- First hand accounts from people involved with the project