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ABANDONED ARKANSAS DOCUMENTS STATE’S FORGOTTEN MEMORIES


Anna Findley and Michael Schwarz of Abandoned Arkansas at Dogpatch USA.


Members of Abandoned Arkansas walk near the Wild Water Rampage ride at Dogpatch USA.


By CHANDRA HUSTON Photos by KEVIN PIEPER


USA amusement ride was the source of tens of thou- sands of screams as visitors rode down an angled slide into a channel of water. Today, though, those


T


sounds are distant memories. Atangle of vines now climbs upward toward its peak. Rust and mold cake its once bright blue-and-white slide. Some people may see the structure as dilapidated, nothing more than an eyesore. But to a handful of young photog- raphers and filmmakers who preserve history with cam- eras, it’s hauntingly beauti- ful.


he 35-foot wood- en tower known as Wild Water Rampage still stands tall after two decades of abandonment. The Dogpatch


Twenty-year-old Michael


Schwarz founded Abandoned Arkansas two years ago to document the stories of abandoned properties. His group has traveled to more than 60 decaying, neglected structures all over the state, photographing them and researching their past. Schwarz has visited hospi-


tals, hotels, churches, schools, theaters, bowling alleys, cemeteries and a host of other locations. “Arkansas has a lot of


history,” he said. “I wonder what stories are behind that history and what memories people have of these places.”


Vision begins as teenager


Schwarz said the idea for Abandoned Arkansas began as a teenage filmmaker in Oklahoma, when he was looking for a location to shoot a movie. He scoped out an


Living Well i June/July 2014 13


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