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At a Glance

A Troll in the Park

680 Glades Road on the Arts & Crafts Trail in Gatlinburg, Tennesse

Hours: Monday–Saturday: 10:30–5:00
Contact: 865-436-0091
Website: www.trolls.com

Online: “A Troll in the Park” Troll Shopping Site, Troll Town:

http://trolltown.stores.yahoo.net

 


 

In case you haven't noticed, we here at Interesting America are rather partial to trolls, as evidenced by our stories on “A Troll in the Park” and the Fauni trolls of U.S. Trolls in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The possibility that trolls represent something other than mythic beings appeared in modern times when the late scientist Ivan T. Sanderson wrote the essay, “Now Meet the NonTerrestrial,” in the January 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe. Sanderson and others actually believed that reports of trolls, gnomes, fairies, kobolds (little creatures allegedly inhabiting mines in Germany) and other “little people” may describe genuine denizens of a parallel reality or higher dimension who occasionally make their presence known in our world. Needless to say, it's a pretty wild idea not shared by many scientists and researchers, but it's something to think about nonetheless.

 


 


 

Visit Troll Universe Online Store

All orders for items in the Troll Universe Online Store go through Amazon's Secure Order Server.


 

 


 

 

A Visit to Troll Mountain

Interesting Places to Visit

A Troll in the Park, a Fanciful Attraction and Shop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

By Abby Slutsky — December 30, 2010

Anyone fascinated by trolls will not be able to resist a visit to “A Troll in the Park” if they are near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The store is in the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community. Even if you are uncertain about these magical creatures, a visit to the store, owned by the Arensbak-Shaffer families, can be an eye-opening experience that may convert you into one of their many troll collectors.

“A Troll in the Park” Gift Shop in gatlinburg, tennessee.
(Photo © a troll in the park.)

Reasons Trolls are Interesting

Traditionally, trolls were part of Scandinavian legends and were ugly gnome-like creatures with magical powers. Trolls had tails, were exceedingly old and moved slowly. Sunlight could turn them to stone, and they feared lightening. Although considered dim-witted, more than one legend indicates trolls could change their appearance and lure young women away from their homes. The legends of trolls led to their mystical aura and piqued curiosity.

History of the Arensbak Trolls

Denmark immigrants Ken and Neta Arensbak loved to tell their families stories involving trolls, which fostered the typical questions about what they looked like. Ken Arensbak created his first troll in 1959 using natural materials. Today the many trolls in a “Troll in the Park” are still handcrafted using tree stumps, glue and natural items. Originally, the first troll was a Christmas gift for his children. Nevertheless, his children enjoyed sharing, so other family members and friends saw the troll, became interested and asked for their own. Over time, he created more trolls.

In 1969 Ken and Neta arensbak visited the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and fell in love with the area. They liked it so much that they found and bought a few acres on a mountain top bordering the National Park in Cosby, tennessee. The article pictured above appeared in a local newspaper a few months after the move. The present-day store is in gatlinburg. (Photo © a troll in the park.)

When Ken made trolls, he wrote stories to accompany them. However, his other artistic interests and time constraints made him unable to keep up with the demands for his hand-made trolls. In 1965 owners of a gift shop wanted to sell some of Ken’s trolls. Ken was at first not interested but then his wife Neta, with the help of their daughter Marianna (and later other family members) decided to make additional trolls and sell them. They converted their basement into a troll-making workshop and named it 5 Arts Studio. Eventually, they opened “A Troll in the Park” and began selling trolls locally, throughout the country and abroad. (Nate passed away in 1997, Neta on June 11, 2010.)

Ken and Neta Arensbak shown here with their grandchildren. both of them have now passed on, leaving their children to carry on the family troll tradition. (Photo © a troll in the park.)

Evolving Trolls

While the first Arensbak troll was a little scary looking and held a sword, over time the Arensbak trolls became cuter. Today the store sells many different types of trolls in different sizes. The trolls in the store, also sold online and distributed to other troll shops, are not scary. Instead, they seem to reach out to owners because it is possible to select a troll that matches interests and occasions.

when you visit “A Troll in the Park” you'll undoubtedly meet Ken and Neta Arensbak's son, erik, who now operates the gift shop. Erik is seen here making troll toys, small paper stars that He crafts out of long paper strips. (Photo © a troll in the park.)

General Information about Arensbak Trolls

The trolls are still made by hand out of natural items. There are many types of trolls, but quantities of trolls may be limited. Many trolls are inexpensive, but some have sold for as much as $500.

Types of Trolls

“A Troll in the Park” has a troll, or can make one, that will appeal to anyone. Trolls are large and small, freestanding or can even hang like ornaments. Some trolls have props and accessories that make them professionals. Others are the perfect athletes and include accessories showing their relationship to a sport. There are also trolls that will help celebrate any holiday and wear apparel for the festivities. A variety of special trolls includes whimsical troll fairies. Trolls do not have to look like little men. “A Troll in the Park” offers trolls that look like animals too. Some trolls even have bright red or green illuminated eyes that glow electrically.

erik arensbak hard at work producing the shop's vast, renowned collection of trolls. They'll even customize or create one for you. (Photo © a troll in the park.)

The Arensbak family not only uses their own imaginations to create trolls, but also finds inspiration for new trolls from their customers. An annual contest gives troll enthusiasts the opportunity to suggest ideas for new trolls. The winning idea is the basis for a new troll. Additionally, trolls can be customized, or purchasers can order a troll to their specifications.

Visiting “A Troll in the Park”

“A Troll in the Park” is located in the Smoky Mountain Arts Community in Gatlinburg Tennessee. The white store looks like a small house and its balcony is inviting to visitors before they even walk inside. Trolls are displayed throughout the store and staff is available to answer questions. Assorted trolls are displayed in groups and clustered at different heights. Many trolls are displayed on natural tree stumps that seem to combine an aura of magic and realism to their appearance. Some natural materials that are used to create the trolls are decoratively placed in the store as well. Stars, ornaments and other decorative items hang or are affixed to the walls. Take your time to browse all areas of this unique store. Customers can read troll names, examine trolls or learn about them. Interspersed on walls and among the trolls are drawings and information about trolls.

looking toward the front of “A Troll in the Park.” situated on “troll mountain,” it is surely america's troll capital.
(Photo © a troll in the park.)

Caring for Trolls

While the trolls are made with care, occasionally trolls need repairs. Customers can order troll parts and receive a free repair kit. Purchasers can send out severely injured trolls for personal repairs.

Troll Collectors Club

An online collectors’ club allows troll enthusiasts to share information about trolls. Members can discuss ideas about trolls and also receive discounts.

Here is an example of a custom railroad police troll made by “A Troll in the Park” in gatlinburg, Tennessee. He is named latrobe, after Chief Engineer Benjamin Latrobe of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, who in 1849 established one of the earliest known railroad police forces. Latrobe has a CSX badge because the B&O railroad was a predecessor railroad of the CSX railroad. latrobe is accompanied here by his dog troll, max. (latrobe is a k-9 “pa-troll” officer.)
(Photo © richard grigonis.)

Other “Troll in the Park” Items

While trolls compose the bulk of store inventory, many shoppers may enjoy the other wares that “A Troll in the Park” offers. Those who do not want a troll may enjoy the jewelry that the shop displays. A line of troll greeting cards are available and are perfect for any occasion.

“A Troll in the Park” also has ornaments, birdhouses and other craft items. Pottery, including cups, bowls and dishes, wood crafts, and beautiful mirrors are among the many items you can find in the store.

logo of the arensbak trolls. (Photo © a troll in the park.)

The trolls and other decorative items enchant tourists and locals. Trolls make excellent gifts or are a perfect memento of a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If only for a few moments, step into a fanciful world and learn about trolls in “A Troll in the Park” at 676 Glades Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. end of article dingbat

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Abby SlutskyAbby Slutsky is a freelance writer and poet whose work appears both on the Internet and in print (she has had articles published in Sasee Magazine and Learning Through History). She has a BA in English writing from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Education from Chestnut Hill College and a Juris Doctorate from Boston University. In her spare time, she volunteers for a hospice, plays Mah Jongg and shuttles her two boys to USTA junior tennis tournaments. A resident of Pennsylvania, she enjoys cake decorating, writing and traveling.

 

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