Donley's Wild West Town

Union, Illinois

Memories of the Phonograph


Doug Boilesen 2022

Donley's Wild West Town is a themed, "Family Fun Since 1974" amusement park with a museum which includes a collection of phonographs.

It's one of the last family run theme parks of its type in the United States but its future is unclear as it has been for sale for a few years.

In a 2017 article by Liz Moyer in the New York Times the current owners' selling conditions are described as wanting the new owners "to continue in their current Howdy Doody-esque form, right down to the gold-panning pavilion, the live action Wild West show, and kiddie rides on the 19th-century miniature locomotive." The challenge, says Moyer, is that "places like Wild West Town are relics of a bygone era, trying to attract children who are more attracted to virtual reality and mobile apps than games of cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians."

It seems highly likely that at some point this attraction will move from Phonographia's PhonoAvenue gallery to Phonographia's Temporary Exhibits for collections no longer on display.

But as my friend's mom used to say, "We shall see what we shall see."






Courtesy David Kasnic for The New York Times