No. 6 Ghost Town calls it quits

By Allison Richmond | Dec 28, 2016
Photo by: File photo Alaska, in better days, waving from the chairlift at Ghost Town.

MAGGIE VALLEY — After a rollercoaster of starts and stops in the four years since Alaska Presley purchased the neglected Ghost Town amusement park in 2012, she called it quits this year and put the beleaguered park up for sale.

The news arrived with a mixture of relief and disappointment for fans of the attraction. Social media comments ran the gamut from shock and dismay to pleas for Dolly Parton to consider picking up where Presley left off.

The announcement to put the property up for sale followed a series of reboot attempts to rebrand the aging park, first as a religious-themed park, to be called Resurrection Mountain, then as an updated version of the old Ghost Town, finally a hybrid adventure park and mountain village, which was to have been called Ghost Town Village.

The property, encompassing more than 260 acres is listed at $4.5 million. According to the real estate listing with Beverly-Hanks & Associates, the price includes “all properties, homes, vacant land, amusement rides on site, stock, business equipment, etc.”

Ghost Town representative Chris Chagnon said offers to split the property would be considered, with prices negotiable. He said several people have expressed interest in purchasing the property, but no serious offers have been put forth yet.

Some, he said, are interested in using the property as a theme park; others are considering developing it into another purpose.

Presley purchased the property at auction in 2012 for $2.5 million. Since then, she has been working to revitalize the property, encountering a series of roadblocks along the way.

Here is a brief history of the most recent revamp efforts:

February 2012 – Alaska Presley purchases Ghost Town out of foreclosure.

Spring 2012 – Presley announces plans for religious-themed park, begins extensive renovation work including plumbing, water storage tanks, and work to recover from 2010 landslide that originated on Ghost Town property.

July 2012 – After delays caused by failed chair lift and ride inspections the park opens for its first season in more than three years.

July 4, 2013 – Opening day once again delayed due to failed inspections and lack of adequate evacuation route. Park closed again two days later after gunfighters walk off the job when Robert Bradley, gunfighter since 1962, was shot in the leg by a gun that was supposed to have been loaded with blanks. State investigation found that Ghost Town had no first aid staff on hand and fined the park $2,000 for using real guns.

Fall 2013 – Presley forms Alaska Presley Faith Foundation to proceed with Resurrection Mountain idea.

February 2014 – Presley approaches Maggie Valley requesting funding to create winter attraction at the foot of Fie Top. Town leaders declined, saying they could not use tax dollars to fund private investment, but offered to assist with grant applications.

July 2014 – Ghost Town opens nearly a month later than planned, again for failed ride inspections.

January 2015 – Ghost Town up for sale, but the listing was quickly removed. Presley again pursues plan to erect cross on mountaintop, but progress is halted due to NC ridge top protection laws.

June 2015 – Opening plans delayed, then cancelled when difficulties arise including insufficient water pressure, chair lift problems and additional evacuation route requirements.

December 2015 – Presley announces plans for yet another reboot attempt, this time as Ghost Town Village, an Appalachian village theme with vendor marketplace, newly revamped adventure attractions, and a carnival ride section.

May 2016 – Despite the hype, and help from outside groups, Ghost Town Village began to show signs of problems with rumblings on social media of trouble on the mountain between Presley, vendors, and support staff.

June 2016 – The announcement is made on Facebook that Ghost Town Village will not be opening after all, and after much careful consideration, Presley has chosen to list the property for sale.