BARTLETT, N.H. (AP) – Stoney Morrell, who ran the White Mountain attractions Story Land and Heritage New Hampshire, has died of cancer. He was 50.

Morrell died Sunday, the same day Heritage New Hampshire closed its doors for good.

His parents, Ruth and Bob Morrell opened Story Land in the village of Glen in 1954. The amusement park, which is aimed at younger children and features characters and attractions from nursery rhymes, has drawn tourists from southern New Hampshire and the greater Boston area for half a century.

Bob Morrell opened Heritage New Hampshire next door in 1976 to showcase the state’s history, but the attraction’s attendance had fallen off in recent years.

Morrell “stepped into very big footsteps after his father died,” said Dick Hamilton, former president of White Mountains Attractions, of which Story Land was a founding member. “He continued to work to make Story Land one of the top-rated parks here in New England.”

Story Land will continue operating with the management team Morrell put in place, Hamilton said.

Janice Crawford, executive director of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Morrell continued to improve on the dream he shared with his parents, adding a new attraction to Story Land every year. He also emphasized traditional childhood themes and provided a safe experience, instead of following the trend of slick sets and scary rides, she said.

Morell “built Story Land into a premier, stately attraction, having the courage to dismiss the neon, Hollywood and thriller rides that were in vogue,” she said.

Morrell was born two years after his parents opened Story Land. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1978 and went to Wyoming to try ranching for a while, then rejoined the family business in the early 1980s.

After his father died in 1997, he carried on with Bob Morrell’s favorite project, the restoration of the Flying Yankee train.

The elder Morrell bought the train in 1993 from the Edaville Railroad and sold it to the state for $1. Restoration is continuing at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln.

“Stoney picked up the torch and started running with it,” said Paul Giblin, president of the Flying Yankee Restoration Group. “He certainly had a great passion for tourism and thoroughly understood his dad’s vision. There is much more to the train than its restoration – they saw it as a way to give people hope and inspire creativity.”

Morrell was generous to his hometown, donating money to establish the Bartlett Village Park and buying the fire department its first ladder truck in 2004, said Story Land spokesman Jim Miller. He also mentored many people in the White Mountain tourism industry and served on local and state boards.

“He did not look for the spotlight. He was a quiet benefactor,” Miller said.

Morrell is survived by his wife, Foley; his son and daughter; and his sister, Nancy. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Monday.


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