Seldom does a day go by that I don't get asked this question.
I see second and third generations in search of OZ. It is part
of my job, and my goal, to maintain the remains, artifacts, and
memories of this old, special place, and to share with others
its bittersweet story.
Oz was dreamed and designed by Jack Pentes, on behalf of
Carolina Caribbean Corp., and headed by Grover Robbins, of Tweetsie
RR. Both men were exceptional "visionaries". It was
their plan to create something special for children - something
that would be fun and financially compatible with the ski slopes
of Beech - and, in turn, would bring parents, purchasers of resort
property. Just as important, local talent and craftsmen were
employed, bringing pride and opportunities to the area. It was
a grand dream and was done in a grand fashion. OZ exceeded everyone's
expectations of success.
Six months before its opening, however, Mr. Robbins contracted
bone cancer and passed away. He was young and handsome and lived
a "whirlwind" life. (Everyone who ever met him has
stories to tell of Grover.) He left behind OZ, Tweetsie, Hound
Ears, Beech, Land Harbor, and what is now Elk River Club, as
well as North Carolina and Caribbean coastal properties. Each
met their own destiny, and Mr. Robbins was given a memorial marker
on the pinnacle of Beech, where he could forever soar, one of
his most favorite joys in life.
OZ was operational from 1970-80, but changing times, economics,
liabilities, maintenance, and other interests of its owners,
along with the lack of change at OZ, took their toll on the park.
Ten years passed with the property reverting back to its original
owners. Vandalism and nostalgia seekers destroyed much of the
remains. Even today, people try to take a "piece" of
OZ, to our despair.
In 1990, the 450 acre project known as Emerald Mountain
development was begun, the concept of creating homesites with
respect to The Land Of OZ being one of our goals. In the past
eight summers, OZ has gone from being an "archeological
dig" to an enchanting private garden, with Dorothy's farm
restored, gazebos renovated, fountain, pond and waterfall made
operational, and the yellow brick road unearthed and patched.
For now, the character houses and Emerald City are gone. But
each summer we add something back to OZ. Sometimes it is original
items returned to us from caring friends.
One of my proudest moments was hauling back to OZ what I believe
to be the very last balloon in existence.
The park is not, nor will it ever be, what it once was.
However, with its maturing flora and graceful aging, it has evolved
into its own unique entity. Dorothy's house is a lovely cottage
we now rent to romantics wanting to escape.
WE'RE PROUD OF BEECH
MOUNTAIN and WE LOVE SHARING IT WITH YOU.
2669 South Beech Mountain Parkway
Beech Mountain , NC 28604
(828) 387-2000 (phone)
(828) 387-2007 (fax)