Land of the Lost: Abandoned Prehistoric Forest in Michigan
If you found yourself driving down Route 12, once the main route from Detroit to Chicago, in southeastern Michigan back in the 60' and 70's you may have stumbled upon a pretty unique "tourist trap" attraction.
Prehistoric Forest, opened in 1963, was one of those roadside attractions that kids begged to stop at and parents gave into. The small amusement park promised life size dinosaurs, safari train, man-made volcano, and even a waterslide. It was the ultimate attraction nestled in the area in Onstead, Michigan that earned its nickname, Irish Hills, for the large number of Irish families settled there between 1830 and 1850.
For its day, the park was pretty incredible. After a tram ride transported guests back through the forest, they were greeted with a world lost in time. Sculptor James Q. Sidwell created 63 fibre glass dinosaurs to entertain and educate guests along the walking tour.
The park offered activities like a interactive digging pit, a maze, and of course the Jungle Rapids Water Slide which was over 400 ft high. There was even a special train ride that would takes visitors through The Land of The Leprechaun. It stood as a little nod to the area the park was in. Families could truly spend the whole day exploring.
By the 1980"s things began to change for the once busy park. Interstates rerouted, and the big names came along, causing visitors to opt for larger parks like Six Flags and Disney. The park finally closed in 1999 due to decreased attendance. Since then it has been abandoned and nature has started to reclaim the land. Broken pieces of once towering dinosaur statues lay on the ground along with overgrown play areas and damage from the many vandals that have visited the now vacant park.
Back in 2019, the current land owner talked of rebuilding the once magical attracition, but as of now there are no plans in the works.
Take a tour of what's left of Prehistoric Forest.