Like a prime-time Western come to life, visitors can cosy up to gunfighters and saloon keepers, pan for gold, watch Indian dances and admire majestic American bison… in Sweden.
High Chaparral theme park opened during what could be described as the height of American rosy-tinted lenses for all things Wild West: the 1960s. The owner, Bengt Erlandson (aka “Big Bengt”) was inspired by stories he heard of the emigrants from the old world to the wild countries west of the Mississippi during the era of Westward Expansion, a vision solidified by his extensive travels through the American West in the 1950s.
A Western themed television show of the same name ran on American television from 1967-1971.
The park is home to daily shows and a host of reenactments, from actors portraying trappers and cowboys, Indians, Mexicans and Zorro, to daily Can-Can and gunfighting shows and old-timer construction demonstrations. Cultural artifacts from the Western era abound, somewhat incongruously alongside Cold War era miscellany collected by Bengt.
Also once common, most of the classic wild west theme parks have closed outside of the actual American West, however other strongholds of the fantasy American West remains can be found elsewhere in Europe.