Tucked away in the hills of Cave City, Kentucky lies an intriguing roadside tourist attractions with a rocky history. Sharing an exit with Kentucky’s own Dinosaur World (those familiar with the Orlando or Tampa area may find the name familiar, as an incarnation of Dinosaur World exists in Florida, as well) is a lesser-known attraction on the hilltop overlooking Cave City.
Alexandra CharitanToday, while passing the Cave City exit on the interstate, you can catch a glimpse of big blocky letters etched into a white building atop the hillside reading “GUNTOWN MTN”. Should you choose to venture inside, you will be met with a wild west themed town full of cowboys and stunt shows. The park originally opened in 1969 under the same name, but despite the seemingly long run this little roadside attraction has enjoyed, its history tells a slightly different story.
Guntown Mountain opened in a popular tourist destination in Kentucky, hoping to draw in some crowds visiting from the nearby Mammoth Cave. Visitors could enjoy live gunfight shows, visit a haunted hotel, and ride a chairlift up and down the mountainside to reach the other areas of interest the park provided. Guntown enjoyed several uninterrupted decades of success, but by the early 2010s, its popularity had begun to dwindle. The original park finally closed its doors in 2013 after forty four years of shootouts and animal wrangling.
Alexandra CharitanAfter Guntown’s closure, the property was purchased by a man named Will Russell, an entrepreneur from Louisville. He was endeared by the idea of a wild west themed attraction nestled away on the hilltop, but decided to add his own personal twist to the existing site. Russell decided to rebrand the park as “Funtown Mountain”, pushing a more carnival and circus theme.
For the grand re-opening of the park, Russell attempted to generate some interest in the project by putting together a traveling circus that toured the country. Under the name the “Carnival of Run Roadshow”, the traveling circus, filled with performers, trained animals, and bizarre oddities, embarked on a journey across twenty states to promote Funtown Mountain.
The tour was disastrous and expensive; Ticket sales consistently underperformed, the band occasionally failed to show, and at one point the wheels even fell off one of the trucks. The tour ended up costing Russell and the Funtown brand thousands of dollars they could not recoup. It seemed all signs were pointing to an unfavorable outcome with the park, but despite the rocky start, Funtown Mountain hosted its “Grand Awesoming” in 2015.
Funtown seemed to have a decent start with consistent visitors throughout the season, but things would soon take a turn for the worse when Russell began acting bizarrely in front of customers and employees. Behind the scenes, Russell was grappling with an intense manic episode. He purchased the property at the start of the episode and things continued to escalate the deeper into the project he got. Following the Funtown kickstarter, Russell relapsed with drug usage and experienced a psychotic break.
Alexandra CharitanDuring this time, Russell appeared on Funtown’s property and began vandalizing it himself. He splattered paint across the parking lot and invited the Cave City locals to freely take what they wanted from Funtown’s souvenir shops.