West TN man created Discovery Park to bring boost to hometown - WSMV Channel 4

West TN man created Discovery Park to bring tourism boost to hometown

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UNION CITY, TN (WSMV) -

Earthquake simulators, dinosaurs and space travel are just a few of the things you'll find every day at Discovery Park of America in West Tennessee.

They were all created by a successful businessman who never forgot his small town Tennessee roots.

Robert Kirkland's $80 million idea is a Pay It 4Ward gamble to increase education and bring tourism to his hometown of Union City.

"His main purpose has always been education; he wanted to educate people and let them see things in this part of the world that they'd probably never get to see again," said chief executive officer Jim Rippy.

It's something you would expect to see in New York or Chicago.

"But here out in rural America, you have a world-class facility, and they don't understand it until they come," Rippy said.

It's all Kirkland's way of thanking Obion County and helping the 10,000 people in Union City, and it's all done big with a small-town friendliness.

"He's got signs out here that say please walk on the grass. Don't walk on the grass is just the opposite. Walk on the grass, we want you to walk on the grass," Rippy said.

Mostly, he wants you to come enjoy West Tennessee and learn something along the way.

"As many things as we can actually let them touch and feel and get a real sense of what it is we do," Rippy said.

Kirkland is 75 years old now and still lives in Obion County.

If you're thinking of visiting his Discovery Park, an all-day admission is $10.

Click here to visit the park's website for more information.

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