ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — The Enchanted Forest theme park in Howard County was built in the 1950s and closed for good in the 1990s.
But the owner of a nearby farm has moved and preserved many of its parts, most recently two large items that used to sit at the park’s entrance.
“An awful lot of people just assumed that the gates would be locked and you’d never see these things again. They’d deteriorate and fall apart and all we’d have is memories,” said Martha Clark, owner of Clark’s Elioak Farm. “Now, we have another opportunity to enjoy these with a whole other generation of kids. What could be better of that?”
In 2004, Clark began rescuing and repairing items from the theme park and displaying them at her farm.
The most recent items to arrive are the Enchanted Forest’s white entrance castle and storybook-shaped metal sign.
Both were moved last summer and Clark described the castle’s and its two tall turrets’ difficult trip.
“About half of what you see now, we were able to move over in one piece,” Clark said. “The rest just crumbled as we were bringing them over and taking them apart. So the rest we had to rebuild. The original construction was a wood and wire frame with a coating of about three-quarters of an inch of concrete on the outside. They’re now concrete block, so these guys will stay around here forever.”
The castle is topped by the same happy dragon that sat upon it for decades.
It also includes a replica of the Ole King Cole figure that still stands atop a pole at the theme park’s original site on Route 40, which is now a shopping center.
“We put him on the balcony so he could greet everybody as they come into the Enchanted Pine Tree Forest,” said Clark.
According to Clark, the owners of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center plan to add a plaque or sign sometime this summer, marking the spot of the theme park and explaining its history.
And visitors stopping by this spring will find the farm has more new attractions: 19 baby goats. The youngest — just a few weeks old — is named Hillary.
The farm also offers hayrides, pony rides, a ride called the Cow Train, as well as gem mining and geode cracking on most weekends.
“We get three generations of families [who] come. We get the parents and the grandparents who came to the Enchanted Forest when they were the parents and the kids, and now they get to bring another generation of children to the farm,” said Clark.
A woman recently told her that she brought her 35-year-old son to the farm so he could get his picture taken in Willie the Whale’s mouth again. She wanted to recreate a photo taken of her son when he was a child and post both on Facebook.
“That just makes my heart sing,” Clark said.