Throwback Thursday: Gaslight Square

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At one point in Silver Dollar City’s history, the creative minds behind the development of the park had a wild notion: what if the city stayed exactly 100 years in the past? Instead of keeping the static theme of the mid-1800’s mining town of Marmaros, the city would grow and develop through continually evolving themes following the Victorian era, the boom and bust of the 1920’s, and so on.

In 1989 this idea was put into action with the creation of Gaslight Square, a Victorian experience on Silver Dollar City’s main square. Character interactions were the highlights of this area, including barbershop quartets, pennyfarthing riders, and women in extravagant Victorian dresses. The shops on the square were transformed to include period wares as well, such as dolls, baskets, flower, and furnishings. True to it’s name, Gaslight Square also included actual gas lanterns which were lit each evening.

While Gaslight Square was certainly quaint, it was not enthusiastically received by Silver Dollar City’s patrons. The Victorian era aesthetic didn’t seem to fit the otherwise famously Ozark hillbilly town, and many guests noted that there were plenty of other places throughout Missouri that celebrated that time period. The reliance on a multitude of street performers and the pressure put on them to be constantly entertaining did not make the employees very happy. I am not absolutely certain, but I don’t believe Gaslight Square returned at all in 1990.

1989 was a pivotal time in Silver Dollar City’s history. Gaslight Square was certainly the most visible effort to take Silver Dollar City down a completely new path in order to better compete with other theme parks and attractions in the area. While it was certainly a creative and immersive effort, I think nearly all fans are grateful that the feedback was listened to and that Silver Dollar City remains a celebration of the long-lost 1880’s mining town of Marmaros.


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