Tomorrow, for the first time in 12 years, long-lost pieces from park to be displayed

Reclaiming Enchanted Forest

March 31, 2006|By SANDY ALEXANDER | SANDY ALEXANDER,SUN REPORTER

It was not a prince, but farm owner Martha Clark who rescued Snow White from her imprisonment in a dark, cold trailer at the defunct Enchanted Forest amusement park in Ellicott City this winter.

Thought to be lost, sold or stolen long ago, the fairy tale figure -- made of wire, newspaper and papier-mache -- was discovered along with Robin Hood, an armor-clad villain, three fairies and some dwarf-size beds in a trailer tucked behind a stand of bamboo on a remote corner of the property.

The figures will be on display for the first time in 12 years when Clark's Elioak Farm opens for the season tomorrow.

They join a few dozen other pieces from the park, including the Three Bears' house, which was cut in half and moved down Centennial Lane on two trailers Wednesday before dawn. The two-story purple shoe from the nursery rhyme about the old woman and her many children was carted over in February.

Clark said she is excited for visitors to see the latest additions.

"You work so hard on this stuff," she said, "then you want to show it off."

The Enchanted Forest opened in 1955 and was a popular place for family outings until much of the site was turned into a shopping center and the park closed in 1988. After the park reopened for one more season in 1994, many pieces sat deteriorating in a valley behind the stores.

After Clark acquired Cinderella's pumpkin coach in 2004 from two men who bought it at a charity auction, she arranged with the property owners to take as many structures as she could move to her petting farm on Route 108 in Ellicott City.

Since then, she has enlisted more than 100 volunteers, farm staff and professionals to relocate a giant goose, numerous cement gingerbread men, several houses, a very tall beanstalk and other structures to the farm.

There, weeks of volunteer labor go into restoring the pieces, from building new foundations and repairing roofs to scraping, sanding and painting.

"It takes a village, that's for sure," Clark said.

This winter, Clark was directed by a former employee of the park to a trailer on an overgrown corner of the Enchanted Forest site. Inside, she was surprised to find a number of small pieces, including Snow White, tucked safely away.

"It really did feel like they hadn't been found by anyone else because they were meant to be at the farm," Clark said. "It was meant for them to be with all the other pieces and available to the public."

Clark added that she and other volunteers scoured the park to make sure nothing else was overlooked.

"I was just floored," said Monica McNew-Metzger, a member of the Enchanted Forest Preservation Society and a farm volunteer. "Most of [the small pieces] have been sold or given away or taken."

McNew-Metzger joined a team of people restoring the figures and placing them in scenes built in a shed at Clark's farm. Robin Hood now duels in front of a painted forest background and Snow White stands in the dwarves' house, complete with tiny beds and a fireplace.

There also is a scene with Sleeping Beauty, who was pulled with her bed out of one of the park's castles this spring. Vandals had ruined her face and cut off one arm, but volunteers have used photographs from the park to repair the figure and re-create her stone-walled room.

Although much has been accomplished over the winter, Clark said there still is plenty of work to be done, from lacing the two-story purple shoe with donated fire hoses to making bedspreads for the seven dwarves.

The Three Bears' house, with Papa Bear's pipe and Baby Bear's bottle perched on the roof, arrived this week.

Jerry Matyiko, owner of Expert House Movers, was last seen in Howard County moving a three-story Victorian house across Clarksville. He said the bears' house was smaller, but the job took about as long as the real house because his workers had to deal with the unusual shape and difficult location.

That move, which cost $20,000, means only a few large structures are left at the park, including Willie the Whale and a tall tree that once had a baby's cradle in its branches.

George W. Miller, owner of a masonry and construction company, said he enjoys working on the Enchanted Forest figures with his employees and as a weekend volunteer.

"I love a challenge," he said, "and rebuilding that shoe is a challenge."sandy.alexander@baltsun.com

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