Pioneer City, Davie, Florida

by Judy Uplinger Brannon
(Crawfordville, Florida)

Pioneer City, Davie, Florida

Pioneer City, Davie, Florida

I grew up in Davie, Florida, in the 1960s when there were only about 2,000 or 3,000 people in residence there. There were several orange groves that we frequented, and lots of cow pastures. But one place I adored was Pioneer City which was located in the western part of Davie.

It was built to look like an old western town, Gunsmoke style, and there were several shops where people could see and purchase items resembling those from the Old West. I believe there was some sort of "tavern" as well.

The part that stands out in my mind the most was the street show they had every couple hours. It ended in a shoot-out. I still remember the first time I saw the shoot-out at about age 3. I thought the guy really got shot and died. I mean there was "blood" and he fell over! I was horrified that someone would do that to another person! But then in those days I assumed Walter Cronkite could actually see me in my living room because I could see him.

I do not know the stats on the place, or what year it closed, but when it closed, a part of me was lost.


Judy, Pioneer City opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 1966 and closed in February 1968. Although it wasn't in business very long, it seems to have made a lot of fans during its short life.

Comments for Pioneer City, Davie, Florida

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Jan 15, 2018
Struck Gold!!!
by: Kathy Thalas Fernandez

I remember visiting Pioneer city when I was around 10 years old. My mother and I were treated to free admission while my father George Thalas was hired to work on the electrical and sound system for the park. I remember the street show, but if I'm not mistaken I also remember an area where you could pan for gold! I'm sure it wasn't real, but very exciting for any child. I miss Pioneer city!

Dec 13, 2017
Pioneer city
by: Anonymous

I remember when I was about seven years old we took a field trip to Pioneer City. I really loved that place and even sat in the Saloon and they had the girls dancing and I sat there and drank me a beer which was root beer in a big mug. It made me feel like I was doing something.

I also liked the outside entertainment with shooting and men falling from the roof. There were lots of interesting things I really enjoyed that I wish could be brought back.

By the way, I got the chance to know about this trip by going to the YMCA.

Apr 02, 2017
What I remember
by: Tom Weiss

Glenn, there were actually two paddlewheel boats, the Jenny Lynn and the Mary B, named for my oldest brother's (he turns 80 this month) daughter and wife, respectively). The main ways to enter and return from the park were either by train (a faithful replica of "The General") or boat.

Mar 31, 2017
What I remember
by: Glenn

If memory serves me, I remember riding on a mini paddle wheel boat back to the old town.

Oct 28, 2016
Owner of Pioneer City
by: Tom Weiss

Valerie, the original idea for a western them park came from a man named Chuck Wolf, who approached my father with it. That idea grew into the much larger concept of Pioneer City. My father, Myron M. Weiss, implemented the idea on a tract of land he owned we called Spooner Hill. My father conceived and owned 100% of Pioneer City but some of the businesses operating there were concessions leased to independent owners. I was only about 15 yrs old when I worked there the one summer it was open as a "swamper" in the saloon. A Mr. Griffin was the main grading contractor as I recall, and my father's inability to pay him was what resulted in the foreclosure of not only the Pioneer City property but also our family home at the Diamond W Ranch next door. I have no recollection of your father's name or involvement in any of the concessions but my oldest brother, Mike, who was the General Manager of the park would likely know.

Oct 27, 2016
Ownership of Pioneer City
by: Valerie Hancock Tutor

I am shocked to see Wikipedia and other places list Mr. Weiss Sr as the owner and developer and visionary behind Pioneer City. This is only partly true. Pioneer City was owned & developed by my father, Joseph Hancock and his good friend and business partner, Richard Griffin, Sr. Both of them were pioneers themselves in the Davie area. Mr Weiss owned the land they built it on. They leased or bought it from him and I believe he was a partner in this with them but he was not the owner and creator. I was there when it was built and spent almost every day after school there. I was there when my dad hired the talent that worked at the park. We still have the antique cash register from the Saloon and other memorabilia. The Miami Herald did an article years ago and quoted him but they did not check their facts or ever talk to my father or Mr. Griffin. The park had a lot of great fans and lots of kids and families enjoyed it so much but the opening of Pirates World near Dania Beach was the key factor in the demise of Pioneer City. Pioneer City was an awesome place & Chuck Connors (Rifleman) and Nick Adams (The Rebel) made appearances there and were guests in our home.

Oct 10, 2016
Pioneer City
by: Carol

I remember coming here around the age of 12. If I remember correctly can-can girls performed in the saloon. This is where I had my first horse ride and got to pan for gold. The gun fighters were fun to watch. I only got to go once though before it was closed and would have loved to go again.

The site later bacame home to the Kapok Tree Restaurant. Anyone living in the area at the time ate there or held their function there. Today the site is home to Long Key Nature Preserve a Broward County Park.

Sep 02, 2016
I Visited Pioneer City on a School Field Trip
by: Mary Cromer Hall

Hi Everyone!

But do I have memories of Pioneer City in my old school days!

My school took us (school-age students) to Pioneer City as a special trip. I would not have gone if it were not for my school, Roosevelt Elementary School in West Palm Beach, Florida. We called them 'field trips'.

I remember riding one of the horses and seeing the shoot-out scene. It did look so real. We got thirsty so we went into the saloon to get a drink. We were small children and I remember them saying "beer" root, that is. So, I knew it meant "root beer" which was one of my favorite soft drinks and, basically, still is.

I wish it was still open today as I would certainly take my special-needs daughter to Pioneer City.

Aug 20, 2016
Upside Down House
by: Scott Schwebke

You are not imagining the famous Upside Down House. It really existed in Sunrise Golf Village in the early 60's and was a promotion gimmick by Norman Johnson, the city's founder. You can find photos on the I Grew Up In Sunrise Facebook page.


We mention the Upside Down House on our list of lost attractions. We invite you to do some research and submit a brief article on it with some photos. I'm sure you'll attract some interest from other visitors.

Feb 01, 2016
Cowboys and Guns
by: Anonymous

I am so glad to have found this site. I thought my memories of Pioneer City may have been "just a dream", since I only went there once. I remember the "cowboys" walking around with their guns and the "shoot-outs". I don't know if this memory is correct but, did they have an "upside-down" house there also? It might have been at another South Florida attraction but I do remember seeing it.

Nov 29, 2015
Shorty The Stagecoach Driver
by: Anonymous

I used to love to take my nieces and nephew to Pioneer City. Their little eyes lit up and big grins grew on their tiny faces. It was wonderful to see them so happy!

Their mom passed away the day after the oldest turned 5. But this theme park was just the escape they needed. My farrier was also the stage coach driver at the park and he paid special attention to them when I would bring them there. My oldest niece went on to have her own grooming business here in Ocala, Florida until she also passed. Without that park I wonder if she would have made her choice of working with the horses?

I know Pioneer City has been gone for years but there were some gardens across the street from the entrance and I was wondering if they were still there? I remember that they had the pink flamingos there also. Think it might have been named Flamingo Groves?

Nov 17, 2015
Pioneer City
by: Mike Weiss Jr

To the lady whose uncle was Hully Sterling - he was a very good friend of our family.. He used to fly me over the Glades to spot wild hogs. He was a wonderful man.

As to Pioneer City, I was the Gen. MGR. most of the time it was open. I'm so glad you have good memories of it.

Nov 17, 2015
to the anonymous niece of Hully Sterling
by: Tom Weiss

Hully Sterling and my father, Mike (Myron) Weiss were friends, and I remember him well. He used to come to our ranch, the Diamond W, and land his Piper Cub in our front pasture and take us for plane rides on our (my brothers and me) on our birthdays. We'd always take up a roll of toilet paper and throw it out the open cockpit, Sweet memories and a sweet man. As I recall he was big into orange groves.

Jun 10, 2015
Growing up in Davie
by: Suzanne

I grew up in Davie in late 50's and early 60's. I had a horse that grew up with me. Many of the girls did.. I lived near the old Davie Rodeo. I would love to find Sharon Henderson and Frank Griffon old School friends. Some of my fondest memories are from Davie. My dad was a deputy. For Broward County .

Jun 09, 2015
Pioneer city
by: Anonymous

I grew up in Dania. I am now 57 years old but I remember Pioneer City so well. I could never remember where it was located. I just remember going on Griffin Road, taking what seemed to be a long ride because I was only a kid at the time. No one else in my family remembered it. I'm glad I found it here so now they don't think i am crazy

Aug 17, 2014
Menorial Day Weekend 1966
by: Anonymous

There were over flowing crowds on it's grand opening on Memorial Day weekend 1966. The transportation system was so overloaded that many visitors walked along the train tracks to get into the village. Unfortunately bad weather and mismanagement doomed Pioneer City. It operated for just under two years.

The original entrance is still intact and so is the parking lot. There are some visible ruins on the property including a train platform and the dockage area where the steamboats would ferry the passengers into the village.

The Wometco Theater Co. was interested in purchasing Pioneer City. The owner, Myron Cohen, saw the park's potential and decided to keep it despite receiving a handsome offer.

Pioneer City was of one of three western theme parks operating n Florida during the 60's.

May 15, 2014
I remember it well.
by: Burt & Judy Watkins

We took the kids, nieces and nephews there many times, Still have a video, of Pioneer City shoot out, and the grounds. My daughter still lives in Davie, FL. My wife and I live in Avon Park, FL.

Thanks for the memories, Burt & Judy Watkins.

Feb 16, 2014
Oh how I wish I could show my grandkids
by: Lynn (Miller) Camp

I remember going here as a child. I have such great memories. Although Pioneer City was only open for such a short time there were such great times to be had. I wish I could have shared this great little place with my children & grandchildren.

Nov 15, 2013
Great Memories with my Uncle Hully Stirling
by: Anonymous

My uncle dressed me up in a flannel gown and bed hat and took me there to ride horses. Great memories! I think he had more fun than I did!

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