The location of former Arkansas theme park Dogpatch USA will soon be transformed into Marble Falls Nature Park, thanks to Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris.
Bob Ziehmer, Bass Pro Shops senior director of conservation, shared plans for the project during the recent Buffalo River Conservation Committee quarterly meeting.
Located in Newton County and just south of Harrison, Dogpatch USA was developed as a theme park based on the Li’l Abner comic strip and operated from 1968-1993, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Throughout its history, it has changed hands multiple times.
The property was purchased in 2020 by Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO, with a sales price of $1.12 million. Morris did not announce any specific plans at the time, other than a general plan to “restore, preserve and share” the property.
According to a segment of the park presentation, a block of marble was quarried from the site and carved before being transported to the nation’s capital in 1836, where it went on to become one of the first stones in the Washington Monument. Plans for the nature park show that it will be modeled after the 10,000 acre Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in southern Missouri, which was also developed by Morris. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park features include a restaurant and working mill along with fishing lessons, wildlife tours, and conservation education.
Morris has a record of successful conservation projects and properties in the Ozarks area including Big Cedar Lodge, Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, Ozark Mill and Finley Farms, and Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve.