NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 30, 2013

Interest growing in Newbury's long-shuttered theme park

It’s hard to imagine gunfights, stage coach robberies and nursery tale characters sharing anything in common with the state police barracks on Scotland Road.

But the connection is getting a lot clearer these days. The Massachusetts State Police Troop A barracks is on the site of a 1950s-era theme park known as Adventureland, and the barracks’ new commander has a keen interest in the ruins behind his building.

Learning more about the history of the amusement park fascinates Troop A commander, Lt. Paul Zipper. Hanging outside his office there’s an authentic Adventureland sign, and he’s even had the name stenciled on T-shirts.

“Although most of it’s grown over, in the back of our building you can still make out some of the foundations of the park,” Zipper said. “You can see the trails and the cement pads where there were rides or buildings.”

Zipper has a nice, clean area in the corridor outside his office all ready to become the Adventureland wall of honor, if anyone would be good enough to share their Adventureland memorabilia with Troop A.

Although Newburyport resident Nancy (Elwell) Lewis and Salisbury’s Denise (Duggan) Callahan have plenty of great memories to share about the place, they aren’t ready to let go of their Adventureland treasures just yet.

Adventureland officially opened in June 1957, right off Scotland Road, on about 50 acres of land wedged between it and what would become I-95. A multi-venue family park, Adventureland included two sections: Storyland and an area with a Wild West motif. Storyland was complete with a Story Book Castle, a village green, as well as exhibits that highlighted nursery rhymes, like the Old Woman in the Shoe, Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Bo Peep and Jack and Jill.

Dodge City had a saloon, stables, blacksmith, jail, general store, a saddlery, the works. Other offerings included the Pony Express, a Well Fargo Stage Coach Ride, as well as Fort Apache, a native American village. There were plenty of horses and Wild West shows that included mock bank robberies and shootouts.

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