The Americana part starts as soon as
you enter the village. The opening ceremony begins with a salute
to the Red, White and Blue. Watching the procession of veterans,
led by an elderly gentleman who was a Korean War veteran, march
across the square and raise Old Glory, I felt close to tears of
pride in these men and women who had risked all to protect our
|The ShowMen onstage
The ShowMen, a talented song and dance
group, did several patriotic numbers then the band played the
national anthem and most of us sang along with the singer to the
old familiar words with such a deep meaning. Later during the
performance we all cheered when a singer looking and sounding a
lot like Lee Greenwood sang
God Bless the U.S.A.
You don't have to wander far before
you spot the "Ozark Mountain" personality of the park. There's a
real log cabin built in 1843 by the Levi Casey family and then
home to the McHaffie family, for which it's named. It was
carefully disassembled then moved and reassembled at
Silver Dollar City in 1960, where it serves as the centerpiece
of McHaffie's Homestead. It sits on Homestead Ridge surrounded
by an one room schoolhouse and a farmyard filled with typical
barnyard animals. The front porch is often filled with the happy
voices of the Homestead Pickers as they play and sing much as
Ozark Mountain families did for homemade entertainment in the
"good ole days." There's Aunt Judy who can tell a tall mountain
tale with the best of them. Naturally, every little hamlet had a
country church. Homestead Ridge is no exception. Wilderness
Church is a 1849 log chapel moved from Bear Creek near Branson.
story about the church. When it was moved to Silver Dollar City,
there was a huge sycamore tree on the site where the church
needed to go. Mary Herschend, one of the park owners, was
"green" when green wasn't cool. She didn't want to see the
beautiful tree destroyed. Instead, it was hand carved into the
church's pulpit by Lester Vining, and is still gracing the old
church today. The church, with its old fashioned charm,
is a popular place for
What we call "crafters" today, were
just makers of everyday items in the 19th century. Silver Dollar
City is filled with about 100 resident craftsmen. These
talented artisans create those items once used by all and
treasured today as decorations or art pieces. There are
woodcarvers, glassblowers, soap makers, blacksmiths, potters,
basket makers, leather crafters, candle makers, knife makers and
|Granny making soap
On my visit
I spoke with the soap maker at Granny's Lye Soap, a young couple
came to the booth with a toddler in a stroller. The little boy's
legs were red and irritated with a bad case of eczema. "Granny" was able to provide
them with a lye soap that should soothe the child's skin. She,
like so many of the artisans at Silver Dollar City, are not
costumed teens hired to put on a show for guests and working
just because they need a job. Many are real life mountain people
who have had these crafts passed down to them by their families.
Others have honed their skills in
creating objects once needed by all but now prized as collector
items. Ray Johnson is one such artisan. For him, knife making
as a hobby when he was in his 20s. Since 1988, Ray has been the
resident knife maker at Silver Dollar City. One of our party who
collects rare knives was able to find just what she had been
searching for in one of Ray's hand-hammered knife. When
asked about his job, Ray stated, “I’m the luckiest man alive,
because I’m doing just what I want to do, and making a living at
|A potter works her wheel
There are so
many other interesting crafters. Could you imagine living
anyplace where there was no mechanic? Well, the blacksmith was
the mechanic of his era. Silver Dollar City had a blacksmith
shop manned by Wayne Rice who learned to operate a forge during
high school. Yes, it's worth a trip to Silver Dollar City just to
find all the old crafts still alive and well.
|Debbie prepares to give a
Dining is another place where Silver Dollar City differs from
most theme parks. They offer choices of many varieties of food.
Molly's Mill Restaurant serves home cooking that emphases
old time favorites like fried chicken or beef and noodles. They
are heavy on fresh vegetables and include a salad bar with the
buffet. Deserts usually offer cobblers that make your mouth
water just looking at them.
Annie's will prepare your
meal right before your eyes in a old time iron skillet. Your
choices are a Harvest Skillet
Family Feud Succotash. Again you will be eating lots of veggies.
You can find
pizza, barbeque, sandwiches or you can opt for the usual hot dog
and burgers. You can find pretty much any style of food you are looking for at Silver
Dollar City. There are twelve restaurants spread throught the
100 acre park.
you are really serious about your food, you can even take a
culinary lesson from a chef. I attended their
Midwest Living's Best Ever Grilled Burgers class taught by
Debbie Dance Uhrig, Silver Dollar City’s Master Craftsman of
Culinary Arts. Debbie is also a culinary journalist and really
knows her stuff.
I learned a few things I never
knew about cooking the simple All American hamburger.
The most unique attraction at Silver
Dollar City is Marvel Cave. This was where it all started back
in 1894, when Canadian entrepreneur William Henry Lynch and his
daughters, Miriam and Genevieve, opened the cave for tours. The
ancient cave had been part of geography of these hills since the
dawn of time. Early Osage Indians called it "the Devil's Den"
and refused to enter the opening that emitted strange sounds
believed the cave to contain marble. A group
of Union Civil War veterans formed a mining company in the 1880s
but instead of marble found the cave was made of limestone. They
did succeed in mining bat guano which was used in gunpowder and
and Mary Herschend acquired the lease on the cave in 1950, they
improved access to the cave and began searching for some
pleasant activities for visitors to do while waiting their turn
to enter Marvel Cave. Their answer came when they spoke to an
old time traveling salesman named Charlie Sullivan who told them
of his days visiting when the cave was being mined and there was
a town there called Marmaros. They decided to recreate the old
town and Silver Dollar City was born.
|One of the fun rides at Silver
Silver Dollar City has all the top rides too.
Their Outlaw Run, won the Golden Ticket Award for "Best New Ride worldwide"
and ranks #7 worldwide for a wood roller coster. It is the only wood coaster to twist upside down three times, has the
world’s steepest first drop for a wood roller coaster, 162 feet, and
is the second fastest wood coaster in the world, reaching
an unbelievable 68 miles per hour.
All together, Silver Dollar City has
over 30 rides ranging for the most adrenalin pumping to those
for tiny toddlers. The Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train is
one that appeals to all ages and is a great way to get an
overview of the park. I loved the ride and thought the "train
robbers" we encountered were a bonus entertainment.
Entertainment is big at Silver Dollar
City too. One of the highlights of its history is when the
Bevely Hillbillies filmed five episodes at the
|Carri Nation prepares to shut
the saloon down /td>
Shows and festivals flourish. There are
six festivals from April through December; Southern Gospel
Picnic, National Harvest & Cowboy Festival, World Fest,
Bluegrass and BBQ, Old time Christmas and the one I attended,
Stat Spangled Summer.
Throughout the park there are 12 stage
venues featuring entertainment of all kinds. There was a world
class group called Flying Ace All Stars featuring Olympic
athletes and future hopefuls performing unbelievable stunts.
Dancers and magicians and music ranging from Cajun to bluegrass.
Then there are
the shows. My favorite was the
Return of Carrie Nation.
Carri Nation storms the "wild and wicked" Silver Dollar Saloon
to dole out her form of vigilante sobriety. It's hilarious.
You can also choose to take in a show at
Silver Dollar City's 4,000 seat Echo Hollow Amphitheater.
Perhaps Brad Thomas, General manager of
attractions, sums up why Silver Dollar City is so special. "We
are setting out to celebrate all the qualities that make America
the most remarkable nation on earth. We are adding a big season
long celebration, creating an all-American destination for
families who want to experience a wealth of patriotism, passion
and pride for our country."
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