Home » In The News » COLUMN: Jack Binder, creator of roadside figures and signs in region

COLUMN: Jack Binder, creator of roadside figures and signs in region

st usa front sign

February 08, 2013 11:45 pm • BOB CONDON condon@poststar.com

A question in the Sept. 22 column asked about the origin of the statue of a cowboy on a rearing horse and the accompanying sign at the entrance of Storytown U.S.A. decades ago. The inquiring reader also wondered about where the roadside icons ended up.

A check with local historians, officials at the amusement park (now Great Escape) and others in September resulted in few answers.

As noted in that column, the sign and statue were removed in 1983 when the park changed its name to Great Escape, and they remained in storage for several years. At some point, the sign and statue left the park, perhaps publicly auctioned or donated away, Great Escape officials said.

Now, more is known of the history of the statue and sign.

Edward Binder of Athol contacted The Post-Star to say it was his father, the late Jack Binder, who created the horse and rider statue and the park entrance sign.

He recalled that his father modeled the horse statue after a Palomino owned by Edward’s brother Ronald.

Jack Binder was living in Warrensburg when he created the statue and sign in the early 1950s.

Edward Binder said his father also created the gorilla statue in front of the Animal Land zoo that was across from Storytown, as well as dozens of signs and sculptures for tourist-related businesses in the Adirondacks.

The gorilla was created inside Jack Binder’s Warrensburg home, his son recalled, and the horse and rider statue may have been put together in a building in the town’s Paddock area, where Binder had a studio.

Jack Binder, who was trained in the fine arts, died in 1986 at age 83. His obituary in The Post-Star noted his work creating roadside figures and signs throughout the region, as well as his earlier career as a cartoonist.

He produced life-size figures for Gaslight Village and historical figures and dioramas for Fort William Henry, both in Lake George. Binder also designed and sculpted the figure of the Good Shepherd in front of the Lutheran Church in Glens Falls.

He was known for his work as a cartoonist during the golden age of comic books. The most famous character he drew was Mary Marvel, little sister to Captain Marvel.

Where the Storytown statue and sign ended up is still a mystery, however. Edward Binder doesn’t know, but said he would be interested in finding out, as would Robert Vorreyer, a resident of West Palm Beach, Fla., who worked in the Storytown art department for 30 years.

Vorreyer mailed a note to The Post-Star in January recalling his Storytown memories, including his involvement in repainting the horse and rider statue and other figures, such as Humpty Dumpty, at the park.

“Great time in my life,” he wrote.

6 thoughts on “COLUMN: Jack Binder, creator of roadside figures and signs in region

  1. I had figured that the horse “ranch” down the road (the name escapes me), closer to Magic Forest if I’m not mistaken, was related to this statue (if not the same one just, ahem, reconfigured)–but I guess not?

  2. I know this is an old thread, but I do home movie film transfers, and just came across about 15-minutes of a family at Storytown and Ghost Town in September ,1957. In total, there’s about ten or fifteen minutes of pretty well shot 8mm home movies.

    If anybody reads this and is interested, I’m sure I could get permission to put it on a DVD or YouTube, etc. to share. case@marshvideo.com

  3. I’m not very miffed about the horse and cowboy being gone – well not anymore anyway.
    5 years ago I visited The Great Escape and got pretty upset. It “used to have” a sweet charm to it – a storybook land, a jungle land , a purple train that cruised along at a very nice pace exploring the nooks and. crannies of the park. Ghost Town had a locomotive that went through an animated mountain and an old west town completely built – not broken in half by a roller coaster that isn’t that good. That Storytown Train that took the place of the purple train is pale in comparison. It goes in a straight long forward and back to the station. Doesn’t explore too much. It is so heavy it can barely move.
    For the first 20 years of my life (1967 – 1987), my family traveled to Lake Grorge every year. It always accompanied a day or two at Storytown USA. After its name change, it keeps themed section of the park called Storytown with its original charm intack. Jungeland was still there with its drum beats and moving animals. Even Ghost Town, which added a Semtesmin’ Demon looping coaster and the fun Desperation Okunge, still had the feel of an old west town. Anybody remember The Tornado? Rest In Peace Marshal Bill McKay.
    Six Flags took over, and The Great Escape now has a byline “A Six Flags Theme Park.” I understand the adding of more thrill rides. I enjoy roller coasters and flukes, spinning rides and the such. I’m fine with a Name Change. Storytown sounds like a kiddie park – not a family park. But take it over, call it a theme Park, and rip out all the themes? Barren houses with nothing to see doesn’t cut it as a Morher Goose storybook land. Alice and Wonderland can definitely use s paint job. I liked having Humpty Dumpty welcome guestס. He just sat on top of the wall, rocking back and forth, but it eas.a nice feel walking in, or pat International Village later on. and seeing.it.

  4. A lot of typos up there, and my phone, I see, changed words, so I apologize. Steamin’ Demon and Desperado Plunge flume ride for instance. I think it still makes sense. In a nutshell, an amusement park turned theme park should have never decided to remove its themed areas.

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