The Rise and Fall of Frontier City, Irish Hills
My parents took me to Frontier City when I was a kid…even though it’s been closed since 1974, it’s a hard place to forget. It was cool.
Frontier City was the brainchild of Irish Hills resident Ivan Hunt, who saw the prospect of success of a western-themed amusement area. Along with partner Maynard Minier, the two planned & constructed their fantasy cowboy town in 1959 on M-50 south of US-12.
When Frontier City opened in 1960, word had spread fast, and families were anxious to get in and check it out. Fueled by over 25 different western TV shows on only three networks, the public’s appetite was rabid.
All the typical western establishments were there: bank, blacksmith, general store, jailhouse, livery stable, and saloon. The saloon served snacks, and drinks like sarsaparilla and redeye (root beer).
Music was provided by Freddy Clemons & The Frontiersmen. Even though Freddy and his guys were the ‘house’ band, many well-known country performers appeared, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Tex Ritter, Ferlin Husky and many others.
Frontier City had staged events like stagecoach holdups, and street shoot-outs. There were buffalo, longhorn steer and other animals, Indian rituals, gold mine tours, a picnic area, fort, and paddlewheel boat rides. There were how-to sessions on making your own apple butter and sorghum.
There was also a 45-foot tall tower with a spiral slide inside…I remember sliding down that darn thing and getting sliced & cut up from the edges of metal plating that the slide was made from.
Then, in 1974, it all came crashing down when Frontier City closed for good, thanks in part to Stagecoach Stop opening in 1965. The two competed for many years with Stagecoach Stop having the advantage, since it was an easier access for tourists, sitting among all the other Irish Hills favorites: Prehistoric Forest, Mystery Hill, Mini-golf, go-karts, souvenir shops, and amusement rides.
Sad, because the two were very different from each other.
Cedar Point bought Frontier City along with some extra property that totaled 432 acres, with the inclination of building a huge amusement park.....Never happened.
Take a look at the pictures below to see what Frontier City once was.