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Guide to the Frontier Village Collection, 1961-1980
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Organizational History
  • Bibliography and references cited
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Frontier Village Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1961-1980
    Collection number: CR-2009-02-09
    Creator: Frontier Village
    Collection Size: 4 boxes 19 oversized box 3 map boxes 10.5 linear feet
    Size of Unprocessed Materials: 3 boxes 2 oversized box 1 binder of slides 3.5 linear feet
    Repository: San José Public Library, California Room
    San José, CA 95112
    Abstract: This collection is comprised of administrative records, employee manuals, photographs, clippings, various printed matter, plans and drawings, and scrapbooks of Frontier Village amusement park. Exactly when this collection was donated by Frontier Village is unknown. The collection has been with San José Public Library since the early 1990s and probably since the early 1980s.
    Physical location:

    For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Although San José Public Library's California Room does physcially own all archival materials in its possession, it does not necessarily own the intellectual property rights (copyright) associated with all items (Title 17, Chapter 2, Section 202, "Ownership of copyright as distinct from ownership of material object). Publishing materials from our holdings requires written permission from the San José Public Library, along with proper credit given to our institution. For permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Lead Librarian of the California Room. Users may reproduce materials for teaching, research, and private study in accordance with fair use on the condition that they give proper credit to the California Room, San José Public Library.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Frontier Village Collection, California Room, San José Public Library

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was created by Frontier Village amusement park and was donated to San José Public Library sometime after its closure in the 1980s.

    Processing Information

    Processing and guide prepared by Diana Kohnke. Guide encoded by Diana Kohnke, 2009.

    Organizational History

    Frontier Village was a western-themed amusement park which opened on October 21, 1961 and closed on September 28. 1980. It was located on approximately 30 acres of what had previously been part of the Hayes' estate (an estate owned by a prominent political and newspaper publishing family in the Santa Clara Valley) on Monterey Highway in San José, California. It was started by Joseph Zukin Jr., a Palo Alto entrepreneur and small businessman, after he and his family visited Disneyland in 1959. Zukin was inspired by Disneyland's family-friendly atmosphere, its thematic divisions, and the fact that nothing like the park existed in northern California.
    The look and design of Frontier Village is owed to Laurie (Laurence) Hollings, an experienced Hollywood set designer and amusement ride designer. Some of Hollings' previous work included nature habitats at the California Academy of Sciences, sets and designs for San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, and several Western movies filmed at Columbia and Paramount Studios. As Hollings imagined it, the park would be a "sort of tongue-in-cheek approach to the Wild West." To this end, Frontier Village utilized stock characters to create the illusion of a wild western frontier town replete with a Deputy Marshal who was the "key character" and also the PR face of the park. The marshal's job was to entertain and tend to guests. Additionally, in the mock gun fights which were staged ever hour on Frontier Village's Main Street, the marshal was "the hero" who saved the town from dangerous outlaws.
    In terms of the layout, Frontier Village consisted of a central square with a railroad encircling the entire park over bridges and canyons, a village with shops, numerous rides and an outdoor stage for live performances. Among the attractions at the park was a small animal preserve, Rainbow Falls (a fishing pond where guests could catch and bring home trout to eat), an old school house, a stagecoach run, burro pack rides, an antique train, an archery range, a jail, a general store, a Hollywood-style stunt show, a shooting gallery, and western-themed rides like the Lost Dutchman Mine, the Flying Scooter, and the Apache Whirlwind.
    In 1973, without the funds to expand, the park was sold to Rio Grande Industries. Rio Grande Industries planned to expand the park onto 60 more acres of the Hayes estate. However, these plans were disrupted when families in the area protested. "The legal hassles with the nearby homeonwers, the skyrocketing San Jose land value, plus increasing competition from . . . Mariott's Great America in nearby Santa Clara, California" all contributed to Frontier Village's eventual closure. "The land that the park occupied was eventually made into a city park called Edenvale Garden Park, where some remains of Frontier Village still exist."
    Former employees and fans of Frontier Village have created a website devoted to Frontier Village. In addition to this, beginning in 2001 annual picnics began to be held each summer at Edenvale Garden Park to commemorate Frontier Village.

    Bibliography and references cited

    Fong, Elliott. Frontier Village History. Rembering Frontier Village Web site. http://www.frontiervillage.net/pages/history.html (accessed June 22, 2009).

    Jabaut, Gloria. Frontier Village . . . in the beginning. Pioneer papers(California Pioneers of Santa Clara County.) San Jose, CA: California Pioneers of Santa Clara County, 2006.

    Sawyer, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County California. Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1922.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection consists of materials relating to the creation and operation of Frontier Village amusement park. The collection contains blueprints on the parks proposed expansion, drawings of some of its costumed characters, maps, employee guides, correspondence, news clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, and other printed matter. There is also a substantial amount of unprocessed materials which include video reels of commercials for Frontier Village, video tapes, 16mm film reels, audio reel to reel tapes, Frontier Village buttons, public relations' stock releases, fact sheets, magazine features, promotions, news releases, and a Dennis the Menace book in which Dennis the Menace takes a trip to Frontier Village. In addition to this, there are numerous photographs including 8 x 10's (along with their negatives) of Frontier Village gunfights, marshals, rides, and buildings; boxes of Frontier Village slides categorized by subjects such as printed matter, gunfighters, employees, Kitty Hawk, etc.; and negatives of various size.


    This collection consists of four series and two sub-series: Series I. General Administrative Files, 1961-1980; Series II. Scrapbooks, 1961-1980; Sub-series 1. Loose Material From Scrapbooks, 1961-1980, and Sub-series 2. Consolidated Scrapbooks, 1961-1980; Series III. Photo Albums, 1960s-1970s; and Series IV. Plans and Drawings, 1960s-1970s. Series I is arranged alphabetically by format and chronologically where possible. Series II is arranged sequentially by scrapbook number, alphabetically by format where possible, and chronologically where possible. Series III is contained in one flat box and Series IV is arranged in three map boxes. Series V is comprised of unprocessed materials and has not been arranged.

    Indexing Terms


    Frontier Village (Amusement Park: San José, Calif.).
    Amusement parks--California--San José
    Frontier Village (San José, Calif.:Amusement park)--Employees.
    Frontier Village (San José, Calif.:Amusement park)--Planning.
    Amusement parks--Employees--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
    Frontier Village (San José, Calif.: Amusement Park)--Valuation.