Paulding County has a new “town,” one which comes right out of the frontier days of the 1880s.
It opened officially last week and already has a self-proclaimed “mayor,” its developer and owner Al Walker.
In actuality, the “town” is a five-acre, special-event information and entertainment attraction called “Ynot” on Benson Road about seven miles north of Dallas.
It reflects all the 1880s ambiance of the fictitious “Dodge City” of “Gunsmoke” fame, complete with gunfights, a saloon and other familiar frontier town establishments.
Walker, who is a construction worker by trade, has received all the necessary Paulding County permits, including a land use permit last week, to allow him to open the attraction.
Ynot will use an old West frontier-period theme to host almost any special event, from weddings and school field trips to reunions and company or club outings.
The development, which Walker and his brother, Jackson, constructed themselves, including building a three-quarter-mile dirt road leading to the attraction, took them four years to complete.
It will also host Walker’s annual event called “Cowboy Day,” which he has hosted at the site since 2008.
“We have developed in Ynot many of the type of business fronts that would have been found along the main streets of old west frontier towns of the 1880s, including a saloon, bank, hotel, jail and a barber shop, which would sometimes double as an undertaker business,” Walker said.
As manager of the attraction, Walker said his idea of creating an old West-styled venue developed 17 years ago with the construction of an actual log cabin on the property.
As part of his Cowboy Day program, Walker has 15 actors dressed as cowboys and up to eight cowgirls in addition to 10 youngsters who have roles in skits.
However, for events held there unrelated to Cowboy Day, Walker and his brother dress in cowboy attire and perform old West gunfights and provide information to groups about some of the old West’s most famous figures, including Wild Bill Hickok and others.
Walker praised Paulding County officials for working with him in gaining the necessary permits to open the attraction.
He is calling the attraction Ynot, which was an actual northern Montana settlement abandoned in the early 1900s.
“When I started this idea, I had no idea it would develop this fast,” Walker said.
“Paulding County has bent over backward to help us in making sure we have met all the county requirements necessary to operate this attraction,” he said.
Walker said that having the permits in hand, he is ready to begin scheduling paid special events there.
As the manager of Ynot, he said authenticity in recreating events of the old West is of great importance to him.
With the creation of the attraction, Walker expects to exceed last year’s attendance of 1,100 at Cowboy Day.
He believes interest in the old West era has grown in the Paulding County area as evidenced by his Cowboy Day attendance.
“Cowboy Day has always been a special event for us as we have entire families, some in cowboy attire, come out and experience re-enactments of events of the 1880s, like the gunfight at the OK Corral that was so much a part of that era,” Walker said.