Ghost Town open for the season

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jul 04, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Visitors to Ghost Town in the Sky hop on the chairlift to take them to the top of the mountain on Fourth of July.

After hitting several roadblocks this year, Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley was finally given a green light to open the amusement park on July 4.

Even with the heavy rain throughout the weekend, Ghost Town was open and was transporting people to the top of the mountain on the chairlift.

Ghost Town couldn’t open for Memorial Day as originally planned because the three kiddy rides and chairlift failed a state inspection. Dolores Quesenberry, spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Labor, said the kiddy rides passed a follow-up inspection on June 21, but the chairlift could still not be certified.

She said new cracks were found on some of the chairs during the second inspection and would have to be replaced. While that could be done fairly quickly — the state still wouldn’t certify the chairlift until an emergency evacuation route was constructed from the Ghost Town parking lot to all the way up the mountain under the chairlift. State inspectors returned July 3 and certified the lift.

Burton Edwards’ company Carolin-A Contracting was hired to construct the road, which came with many obstacles. Originally Edwards said he didn’t believe the route would be required to have an engineered erosion plan because it wasn’t a real road and wouldn’t disturb much land.

However, Edwards said last week that he did have to get an erosion control plan after all.

Marc Pruett, Haywood County erosion and sedimentation control director, said he went to inspect the site recently along with North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and North Carolina Forest Service representatives “to make sure everyone was on the right page.”

“We measured what they had graded and found they had disturbed 2.5 acres of land so we issued a notice of violation for not having an approved plan and permit before starting the work,” Pruett said.

An approved plan is required if a project disturbs a half acre or more. Pruett said he didn’t see any lost sediment off the site but that it was possible. Ghost Town was given a July 24 deadline to have a plan submitted to his office. He said he already has received most of the a plan for the road’s first phase, which is from the parking lot up to tower eight.

“They don’t want a problem — they want it fixed, but they just jumped the gun a little bit,” Pruett said. “They have an engineer they’re working with to get a plan for the whole thing, and we’re doing everything we can to work with them on the time line.”

Pruett said he thinks some geotechnical work may be required from tower 8 to the top of the mountain, which is about half way.

While the plan for the entire route hasn’t been completed, Burton said the road itself was complete and snakes its way all the way up the mountain.

Pruett said the amount of Ghost Town’s fine for the violation was unknown at this time.

“They paid us for a couple of acres when they first got started but it will be more than that,” he said. “We still need a full plan before we make a decision of what the number needs to be.”

Ghost Town owner Alaska Presley did not return phone call seeking comment.

Ghost Town will now be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday throughout the season. While there are no adult rides, there are three kiddy rides and a children’s train that loops around the park. Western Town will be open with gun fights and the Can-Can Girls will be dancing in the saloons. Restaurants and other shops also are open in Western Town.

Tickets cost $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3-12 and children under 3 are admitted for free. The three ziplines are also open and cost $40 for adults and children.