The Western-themed amusement park on U.S. 12, defunct since 2007, was purchased in November 2013 by Ron Noel, who, along with partner Jessica Poore, is in the process of giving the site a new purpose.
The immediate goal is to turn the structures at the Stagecoach Stop, 7203 U.S. 12 near Onsted, into reception halls and accommodating facilities. Noel also owns the nearbyEvans Lake Resort and the adjacent Ol’ Golden Nugget Lodge, which he bought in March 2013. Stagecoach Stop USA was owned and operated for more than 40 years by the Bahlau family.
“Right now we’re focusing on the accommodation side,” Poore said. “We’re turning the old ice cream saloon into a bunk house (for Cowboy Creek Lodge) and have a pool going in.”
Noel and Poore see the Stagecoach Stop hosting weddings – that includes remodeling the on-site wedding chapel – reunions, parties and other such events in the near future. They intend to keep the Western theme in hopes of maintaining the spirit of the old Stagecoach Stop.
“We just want it to be alive,” said Poore, who has lived in the Irish Hills area her whole life. “It’s been rundown for quite a while.
The property has dozens of structures, most of which need major work. Noel and Poore are focusing on the ones closest to the road to start.
“Hundreds of thousands of people drive through here going to the races at MIS (Michigan International Speedway) or Faster Horses (music festival),” Poore said. “We want it to be nice again when they do.”
Originally, the Stagecoach Stop included an 1890s-style antique museum that featured the Longhorn Saloon, Pistols and Petticoats Ballroom, Western Trail Shop, general store and an old-time movie house. There were also rides, simulated holdups and street shows.
Poore expressed sadness in admitting the site would likely never again approach its heyday as an amusement park attraction for young people.
“Unfortunately, it’ll never be what it was,” Poore said. “People have lost interest with all the technology and other things to do now.”
The couple does have a long-term vision of perhaps adding a water park, however.
“We have a vision of something like Kalahari (Resorts) but with a Western theme,” Noel said. “That’s a ways off, though.”