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

st usa front sign

February 08, 2013 11:45 pm • BOB CONDON

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.