Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Enchanted Forest meets Petting Zoo: Clark's Elioak Farm

Clark's Elioak Farm: This feature article is both a reverie and instant joy, as experienced through the eyes, feet, hands, and heart of a two-year old little girl, very special to me.

But, first, the reverie—
someone else’s, mine, others:

I was having breakfast in Forest Diner in Fall of 2009, and looking across the street at the Enchanted Forest site on Route 40. After I took this photograph of the neon sign at the diner, I said something out loud about the old theme park, and a gentleman having breakfast across from me started talking......what he said held such visual power for me…history from a specific point of view…that I reconstruct it here from notes I took and kept. What he said gave me more about the context than I have read in any article since then in terms of the old roads, reason for location of Enchanted Forest on that site—in essence, a picture of an earlier time in Howard County that helped me understand the significance of the theme park and other similar parks as well:

“Even though I drive by the old location of Enchanted Forest theme park, I have really no memories of the place. My parents took me there once, maybe twice. The most interesting aspect is that Route 40 along that stretch at the time the park opened was in the country; in part this helps explain the motel and this diner across the road. My family drove west frequently to Frederick. The area along Route 40 just before you go under the underpass for Route 29 heading east along the left side had a roadside picnic grove with several tables--vestiges of the site remain. The old stone building near Clark's Hardware had a large roadside farmer's stand—I always realized right past that place was the true rural/country—nothing but farms and countryside. Howard Country was basically country until Columbia. Frederick Road/Ellicott City and Route 40 were the commercial strips. As to Route 40, when the Enchanted Forest opened in 1955, the Route 40 strip past the bridge over the Patapsco was largely undeveloped. I had more memories about Gynn Oak Amusement Park. Enchanted Forest was unusual in that previously most of the areas amusement parks in the area were built at the end of the streetcar lines. Just like Glen Echo in suburbs of Maryland, outside DC...”

Next, I learned from a web site called “institutional green” that the Enchanted Forest Park began on 20 acres, and was expanded later to 52 acres, then reduced to 32 after Bethany Woods was built. The park changed hands several times, eventually becoming a strip mall with some of the remaining attractions partially integrated. The carousel remained, covered up, as well as the entrance castle…the brief article added, “The site was used for part of the Johnny Depp movie, “Cry Baby.”

Still another article I found in my online research by Laura Pritzker (Baltimore Day Trips Examiner, March , 2009) gave me the connection I was looking for: Enter Martha Clark of Clark’s Elioak Farm! In 2004, Kinco Realty, the owners of the Enchanted Forest site, gave Clark permission to move the historic Mother Goose structures from the old site on Route 40 to her Farm on Route 108. In that year alone, these figures included: Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, Mother Goose and her Gosling, the Black Duck, Six Mice pulling the Pumpkin Coach, the Little Red Schoolhouse, and the Beanstalk with the Giant on top.

Finally, an excellent piece published in the Washington Post online in October, 20005, Fall on the Farm, by Mary Jane Solomon, provided a great quote from Martha Clark about moving the bright orange carriage to her Clark's Elioak Farm:

“The response to our getting the Cinderella pumpkin coach was overwhelming!” Solomon notes that Clark could take any Enchanted Forest pieces from the original site so long as she handled the moving arrangements – They’re heavy and awkward to transport because they are made of concrete and fiberglass.

“Since then,” said Clark, “life has been a whirlwind,” with friends and sponsors not only re-locating the structures, but also repairing and restoring them.”

In August of 2005, the 540-acre farm unveiled the revamped displays during an Enchanted Forest 50-year birthday celebraton. Clark’s Elioak Farm recently celebrated its 55th year.

Cut to the Present: Writes Martha Clark for this blog feature: “Enchanted Forest's 55th Birthday Celebration, held on August 14-15, 2010 was great fun. We had over 600 visitors join us for story times, costumed characters and dress-up, facepainting and displays about the history of the Enchanted Forest. We also hosted the 3rd Annual Enchanted Forest Employees Reunion. Employees from the 1955 to 1989 time span come each year to reminisce about the unique experience of working at the famed storybook park. It’s a great time to renew old friendships...

(Right: George Miller as Ole King Cole. Photo: Clark's Elioak Farm)

...We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to bring the truly wonderful Enchanted Forest attractions to our farm where they can be enjoyed by a new generation of families and children from the area. We welcome everyone to come visit our friendly petting farm animals, all of the fascinating Enchanted Forest attractions and Maze, and enjoy our rides---pony rides, hayride, and our new Cow Train ride---as well as our picnic and play areas.”

Clark's Elioak Farm/Petting Zoo
10500 Clarksville Pike (State Route 108)
Ellicott City, Maryland 21042


2010 Hours of Operation:
Open April 1 to November 7, 2010
Tuesday thru Sundays 10 am to 4 pm

Blog Feature content and Photos: Kay Weeks
Thanks to Martha Clark for her active
participation in this point-of-view feature.

August 25, 2010


Anonymous said...

April spent many a time at the original Enchanted Forest; Cooper had to enjoy it at Clark's Farm altho he asks many questions about the castle and remaining pieces across from the Forest Diner. David also has good memories partly because his Dad helped build some of the pieces and his Dad worked there as a teenager. So happy the castle entrance has been painted. I believe Scenic Roads grant money was used to help restore the pieces.

Sally Bright,
Cambridge, MD

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kay! We drove past Enchanted Forest 100 times when I was a kid, but we never went there. Lovely piece.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! Wonderful place to visit with your grand daughter!

Gettysburg, PA