IMPORTANT NOTICE!
The following article is a historic documentation of the original Guntown Mountain attraction in Cave City, KY. It had been closed for the last several years
but has recently been revived as Funtown Mountain.
Attractions include the Haunted Hotel, Souvenir Shack and Funtimey Selfie Studio, where people can dress up in a variety of costumes and take pictures against a backdrop. The chairlift and Wild West Village are nearing completion.

        
 

By- Rick Davis

Editor- Jerri Mills

 

As you drive through the Kentucky hills, you enter an area steeped in history and natural wonder. Nature has carved a series of caves into these hills and has provided a unique backdrop for a variety of attractions.

In particular, an amusement park has incorporated many natural aspects of its surroundings into a theme providing tourists with not only cave tours, but also a Wild West Town and a rare walk-through haunted house.

Owner Dan Broady started Gun Mountain with a chair lift and a country store. When asked about the roots of the park, Broady had this to say- “Well, it was sort of something that happened, I guess. I used to be in the furniture business here… manufacturing… and I got to talking to my partner. The interstate missed us and we thought we ought to come out here on the interstate where some of the action was. We just got the idea of putting a chair lift up on this mountain here. So we thought about it one day and started the next!”

The Wild West town with its live shows came next with bumper cars, a train, and a staple of traditional amusement parks, the Haunted House soon to follow.

The large walk-through Haunted Castle at Indiana Beach served as inspiration for the smaller version to be built at Gun Mountain. Funni-Frite, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, designed and built this walk-through, which is the most prominent feature to be seen upon arrival at the park.

  

True to the historic atmosphere of the area, this two-story attraction still looks very similar to the way that it did when it was constructed in 1972. The noticeable changes include the  roofline, signage and the color scheme. Broady explained that most of the exterior changes were the result of repairs due to wind damage.   

Although many great traditional haunted houses have succumb to safety regulations and public demand for more exciting attractions, change is unlikely for this intrepid haunted house unless fire regulations someday force an update due to its tight passages. In that event, the interior would have to be gutted, or the building would be leveled and a new attraction built. Hopefully this is not in the near future for this rare Funni-Frite attraction.

Although the gags inside have been rearranged throughout the years, they remain true to the roots of the parks beginnings. Much of what is encountered in the narrow, almost shoulder width hallways are hand painted figures created by a local artist, preserving the local flavor that is so much a part of this Kentucky park.

The seven pop-up tricks featured in this walk-through were staples of the Funni-Frite Company.

Although the company name Funni-Frite came into existence in the early 1960s, it had roots in the funhouse business dating back before World War II.  PTC (Philadelphia Toboggan Company) was enjoying a booming funhouse and dark ride business at that time, and found that it could not produce enough gags to install in the attractions it was constructing. They turned their plans and molds over to the predecessor of Funni-Frite which continued to produce many of these gags, as well as their own designs until the company was sold.

Funni-Frite was best known for creating gags for amusement parks as well as building portable funhouses and dark rides for carnivals. They constructed almost 500 before 1999. The Haunted House at Gun Mountain, being a permanent installation, is a rare breed indeed!  

 

  

  One of the company’s best gags, “Charmin’ Charles, serves as the bally-hoo, visible from outside the haunted house. Charles has been banging on the ivories in joints like this for nearly 30 years!  

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

                                                          

As the valiant guests enter Charmin’ Charles’ humble abode, the first Funni-Frite gag that appears is seen just inside the entrance to the haunted house. A treasure chest, perhaps, appears inside the door.  The lid snaps open revealing the three skulls in the “Box of moaning skulls". 

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

 

 

 Painted characters such as a “Jason” figure and the devil grace the walls of this tight fitting hallway.

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, the explorers come to a coffin containing the “Mummy”. In Charmin’ Charlie’s house, the Mummy is kept more in the Western theme of the surrounding park and is dressed in simple western clothing and stands in a plain wooden coffin.

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

 

 

Further along the dark, narrow passages a modified “Hang ‘em high” gag is visible.    Originally this gag was more of an illusion featuring a disappearing brick wall that would fade out to reveal the “hanging” skeleton, a fireplace and a skull with an electric “candle”. These are either long gone here or were never installed.

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

 

 

Walking further down the narrow corridor, bumping into the occasional black painted, but exposed wall studs, brings the guest to “Thing”. This classic Funni-Frite gag springs from his box in a misguided attempt to grab the visitor as they scramble past him in the now too confining hallways.  

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

 

Safe from the clutches of “Thing” the fearless adventurer must negotiate a series of “keyhole” doorways in the next section of Charlie’s rather crowded haunted house.  

 

 

 

 

 

Within this area another sample of the local artist’s talent are seen in the painted figures that appear on the walls. Dracula, free from his coffin and hungry perhaps, lurks in the dark along with an eerie pair of eyes and another skeleton.  

 

  

 

 

 

 

The “Baron” is the next mechanical gag that is encountered. This unusual gag was a take off on a classic LAUGH-IN TV skit from the early 70’s. Originally, Baron Von Red would pop his head up and with the aid of his animated jaw and a tape deck, would “talk” to the guests. Unfortunately, this stunt is missing not only the “Very interesting, but stupid!” sound track but also his head! 

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

Walking  further along these darkened, and sometimes-inclined passages, visitors may have the creepy sensation of something (Rats? Gremlins?) brushing their legs. This classic, simple, but effective, trick of the trade still gives chills to unsuspecting guests.

 

Once again our adventurers find themselves feeling for a path along those exposed wall studs, soon triggering another pop-up gag. This figure may have been a modified “Troll”. The Troll, as designed by Funni-Frite, jumped out of a tree stump. Here the stump is gone and the figure differs a bit from the catalog version

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

Finally nearing the end of the walk-through is the last Funni-Frite gag- the “Gorilla”. Stepping on the floor switch causes the figure to illuminate and the gorilla to lunge forward. The adventure over, our intrepid explorers are free from harm and exposed to the brightly lit attraction known as “reality” and on their way to spend the rest of their day exploring the midway, the caves and of course, the Wild West Town.

(Click Photo for a view of the Funni-Frite Catalog page)

 

The Haunted House at Gun Mountain remains a nostalgic reminder of the simpler days of dark attractions from an era before high tech audio-animatronics, holograms and virtual reality.

This tiny park is a breath of fresh air, literally, and offers a laid back relaxing afternoon that is a refreshing change from the hectic experience and often frustrating long waits all to common to the large corporate amusement parks.

Gun Mountain and Mammoth Caves can be seen from the Cave City exit off I-65. For more information, see their web site at- http://www.mammothcave.com/guntown.htm  

If you visit the park, stop by the general store and tell Dan Broady that LAFF-IN-DARK  sent you!

Page layout by Rick Davis

This Article ©2000 Rick Davis And Used With Permission.
All Photos ©1999 Rick Davis And Used With Permission.
©2000 Laff In The Dark

www.laffinthedark.com


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