Cover picture by: Dan Baucom

Ghost town Maggie sink (officially called Ghost city in the Sky) was a an extremely popular Western-themed mountaintop amusement park, situated in Maggie sink NC. The Park was started in 1961 by R.B. Coburn, who was originally from Virginia, however later relocated to Maggie sink NC.

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Ghost city was a substantial success in the 60s, but later struggled, resulting in some to refer to it as the “cursed amusement park.”

Ghost city Maggie valley – The Beginnings

R.B. Coburn had actually been visiting the valley for some time with his family and also fell in love through the area. R.B. Was a effective businessman, having started number of successful businesses in Tennessee. After visiting numerous different ghost communities throughout western America, R.B. Coburn made decision to go back to Maggie Valley, and also build a Wild West based layout park on optimal of Buck mountain in Maggie Valley. Buck Mountain has actually an key of 4,600 feet and also provides beautiful hill scenery all roughly it.


Ghost city Maggie valley was designed and also constructed through Russell Pearson in 1960 for approximately $1 million. Building and construction of Ghost Town started on September 1, 1960. Three bulldozers do their method to the top of the hill to shave 45 feet that dirt and rock off the top. This area would soon come to be the Old West town, and home come the renowned gun fights.

Thousands of yards the dirt and rock were then moved to the shoulders the the west town and also became the foundations for neighboring towns: Indian Village, mountain Town, and also Mining Town.

Building building and construction for the four various towns began in mid-November that 1960, utilizing 200 regional men to obtain the task done. By at an early stage May 1961, an ext than 40 buildings were complete, both inside and also out. All structures were true life dimension replicas of similar buildings native the era.

All structure supplies were sourced locally and also included 300,000 feet the lumber, 200,000 feet that plywood, and also 20,000 pounds that nails. The grass seeds alone cost much more than $3,000 in 1960. Today, that exact same seed would cost an ext than $25,000.

At the time of Ghost Town’s grand opening, there were only two ways up come the top, The Incline Railway, and shuttle bus. The spaceship bus was only obtainable to people with specials needs, and staff.

The Incline Railway (a funicular railway) lugged people to in ~ 200 feet the the top of the mountain. The construction of the Incline Railway was a feat in and of itself. Bulldozer operators sculpted out a 50 foot wide, 3,364 foot lengthy clearing increase the next of Buck Mountain. This would become the roadbed because that the Incline Railway. A 25-ton bulldozer was relocated up and also down the mountainside, and also connected to another bulldozer at the top, by a 4-inch cable. The bulldozer was operated up and also down prefer a yo-yo. Again, everyone the performed this job-related was local.

The railway itself is consisted of of 21,000 feet of steel rail. There were two cars, each capable of hold 48 passengers. The cars to be attached to three separate cables. Every cable weighed 6,000 lbs, because that a complete of 18,000 lbs, for all three. The cars were operated electronically native the peak of the mountain, making use of 440-volt motors that weighed more than 25,000 lbs each.

The Incline Railway to be not only the nation’s really first dual incline railway but also the steepest. The Ghost city Incline Railway rises 1,200 feet at differing grades, from 30% come 76.1%, end the 3,364 feet it travels. In some places, the was practically straight up, making because that an amazing ride as much as the top.

Assembling and also installing the Incline Railway was likewise a challenge. A “Skidder” at the top of the hill was supplied to pull a cart up and also down the mountain, containing the workers, rails, and also tools. Installation to be a attention job, and caught the fist of Maggie Valley inhabitants most of the winter, as they watched Ghost city come together. Fortunately, all went well, and installation to be completed with no injuries.

Construction of Ghost city in the Sky, together it was formally named, was completed in might of 1961. The park officially opened in June 1961. Ghost town in the Sky an extremely quickly came to be one that the most famous attractions in Western north Carolina. On some days, the park had more than 10,000 civilization in attendance.

The Chair Lift

One that the significant additions come Ghost town that emerged during the winter and spring the 1962 was the twin chair lift. The chair lift noted another unique and also exciting way to reach Ghost city from Maggie Valley. The chair lift was specially ordered native Italy and also could move 900 passengers every hour, making use of its 160 double chairs.

The lift moved human being 3,370 feet increase the hill at a speed of 3.5 mph. The chair lift price $150,000 in 1962 dollars. Now that exact same lift would cost $1,207,160!

Ghost city at its top in the 60s and 70s

Ghost town in the Sky quickly grew to be the biggest attraction in Western phibìc Carolina and one the the largest in the country. The park carried thousands of tourists each day to Maggie Valley, NC.

Brenda O’Keefe and her husband Joey, owners of the famous, and now closed, Joey’s Pancake home used come drive through Maggie sink each morning, and count the cars in ~ the hotels to determine how much pancake batter to do each day.

On holidays throughout the summer, Ghost city would have actually up come 10,000 visitors. Ghost town attracted numerous visitors come Western phibìc Carolina and Maggie valley NC over the years and resulted in an financial boom because that the little town the Maggie Valley. In fact, many brand-new hotels, motels, and also businesses were developed after the opening of Ghost city in 1961. This included the Maggie sink Club and Golf Course.

Ghost town employed 75 to 100 personnel, which contained gun fighters, can-can girls, maintain crews, ticket staff, parking staff, chair lift crews, Incline Railway crews, driver operators, etc. Interestingly, shop in the park to be leased, operated and staffed separately by Maggie valley businesses owners, more assisting through the regional economy.

At the peak, 620,000 civilization visited Ghost town each year, including well known celebrities like:

Dan Blocker, that played Hoss Cartright top top Bonanza,Jon Provos,t who played Timmy native the famous television show, Lassie,The Beverly Hillbillies,Burt Reynolds,Jerry Mathers, leaving it come Beaver,and countless more.

As Maggie valley visitors arrived on the Ghost city amusement park, they would certainly be greeted by the huge Ghost town sign, v the ticket office below, and the big A framework building, through a restaurant and merchandise for sale come the right.

Behind both buildings, to be a clear reduced up the hill that visitors would need to ascend to with the main point park. Using the Incline Railway or the chair lift to be a unique element of Ghost town on the Sky. Both allowed visitors to slowly transition from contemporary times come the Old West, together they gradually ascended Buck Mountain.

Ghost town Maggie sink had about 120,000 square feet of building an are that was separated into the several various original towns. Each town was located at various elevations of the park.

Ghost town was renowned for that live shows, which consisted of can-can dancers in ~ the “Silver dollar Saloon,” and also country and bluegrass musician at the “Red Dog Saloon”. Oh, and also of course the famous and also ever popular” shooting outs in the streets”, which led to visitors to heat the roadways to watch them. Probably some the you will remember this …

Now i was end there in the silver- Dollar Saloon just a couple of moment ago, and also a couple of riders came into town. And also I’m pretty certain I overheard among ’em say that he believed he had seen old Grandpappy and also a bunch that his mangy youngin’s comin’ right into town. Currently if this is true Ladies and also Gentlemen, we can be in for the worst form of trouble here, in town this afternoon. Because, you see, it all started about 6 mainly ago, once Grandpappy’s youngest kid come into town, obtained all liquored up under there at the Red Dog Saloon, go out and also stole a horse. Well, the marshal arrested him, and put the in jail. Well, after ~ a short, yet a fair trial, mind you, the youngin’ was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Well, the very next mornin’, bright and also early, we had a hangin’ here at Ghost Town. Well, normally this didn’t collection too well through old Grandpappy, and Grandpappy sent word back to town, that simply as quickly as his rheumatism would permit him collection his mule, he’s comin’ come town. He to be gonna get that glowing shiny badge our marshal wears, and that high silk hat the belongs to “Digger” the Undertaker, reason he’s the one that hidden his youngin’ …

So began one of the well known “shoot out” shows held every 40 minutes in Ghost Town.

These various shows to be performed by a team of locals, including the renowned Apache Kid, play by Robert Bradley. The shoot outs were very popular and also became a signature attraction for Ghost Town. The shoot outs in the streets aided children and adults realize your imaginations of being a cowboy or cowgirl in the Wild West, first hand.

Being one amusement park, Ghost Town also had rides and lots of them. Gift at the top of a mountain, detailed extra thrills on plenty of of them. Several of the rides girlfriend would discover over the years had The Monster, Mining town Swing, Goldrusher, Tilt-a-world, Red Devil, Sea Dragon, Undertaker, Dream Catcher, Casino, round Up, silver Bullet, and also Lil Devil.

Ghost Town likewise had horseback rides, varying from 30 minutes to 2 hours, whereby visitors could ride through the woods to Cataloochee Ranch, finishing with camping. You can even journey a stagecoach and a train!

Ghost Town additionally had a variety of stores and restaurants as well, including The Red Dog Saloon, golden Nugget Casino, Frontier Shop, general Store, silver Dollar Saloon, Mad hatter Shop, Snack Bar, Apothecary, absent Shop, Chinese Laundry, trading Post, fill Mule Gift Shop, Blacksmith Shop, and also many more.

The Church in Ghost Town had actually services every Sunday morning. Regional pastors because that the various churches would come up and conduct services and were maybe to store the donations.

Ghost town Maggie Valley, the gradual decrease and closure


During the beforehand 1970s, Ghost Town’s height would more than 400,000 visitors annually, which declined substantially by 2008. The decrease in attendance was 2 fold Mechanical worries with rides, causing regular ride closures, and also American attention in the Wild West declined through the 70s, to almost zero attention in the eighties and beyond.

In 1973, the park was marketed under a share swap to the nationwide Forest. R.B. Coburn to buy it back in 1986, and included the Red evil one Roller Coaster. This coaster ended up being a signature ride, and can still it is in seen this particular day on the hill side.

Unfortunately, plenty of of the park’s signature rides throughout this time were constantly break down, and also not obtainable to visitors for expanded periods that time. The closeup of the door rides led to visitors to no return, resulting in the gradual decrease in attendance. Both the chairlift and also Incline Railway come the top additionally had many problems, causing Coburn to spend thousands the dollars maintaining them running.

One well known day in July 2002, the chairlift malfunctioned and also left riders stranded in mid-air for two hrs on a warm day, in the rain. Adhering to this incident, the park close up door in 2003, after efficiently running because that 41 years.

Ghost town Maggie valley was again resold in respectable 2006. After ~ $38 million in repairs and renovations, the reopened that doors with whatever running, except the Incline Railway come the top, the train, and also The Monster.

By 2009 the park filed for bankruptcy, ~ spending second 11 million dollars, v 6 million of the on the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster. Ghost Town ongoing to battle financially v 2009, and also the park close up door again.

The owners/ CEOs that Ghost town failed to make payments because that liability insurance money for three months, therefore the insurance was canceled. Unfortunately, this taken place just prior to a large mudslide top top February 5, 2010. The mudslide emerged when retaining wall surfaces at Ghost city failed. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but 40 homes were evacuated, and also three dwellings were damaged listed below the failure. Well-off Cove Road, the main access road, was buried.

The owner then scrambled to try to salary the late payments, but by then it was as well late to cover the damages that the mudslide had already cause come the local homes down the mountain. Credible local sources case that the owner knew about a year before the mudslide that the land and also retaining wall surface was unstable.

Ghost town again fell under foreclosure proceedings and also remained closed.

Alaska Presley, Maggie valley resident and Ghost city investor during the 1960s, purchase Ghost city out that bankruptcy in 2012. She managed to open the park indigenous 2012 come 2014 through the hopes of transforming it into an Appalachian Village. But, in 2015 she to be unable to open up the park’s doors as result of expenses linked with pass the park ago up come date.

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Ghost town sadly remains closed come this day, and while that closure and also difficulties had actually a far-ranging impact top top Maggie Valley and surrounding areas, initially, Maggie valley NC has reinvented itself and also is proactively making a go back to popularity, refocusing on being the hub for countless mountain outdoor and also recreational activities.