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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Decay and Amusement

    I recently was in Youngstown again. I stopped by the old school to take a few last pictures before they tear it down this Fall. I'll post those later. But it got me wondering about other things I remembered about the city. Such as Idora Park.

    Idora Park was an amusement park. It closed after the 1984 season. My one and only trip to Idora Park was during that final season. I seem to recall that we were told that we should check it out while we still could.

    Prior to that final season, there was a fire at Idora Park, which burned down a couple of the rides, including part of Idora's main attraction, the Wildcat roller coaster. Idora had a second coaster, the Jack Rabbit, but this was not enough to sustain the park. While the wikipedia article on Idora Park doesn't get into it, I remember hearing back then that the insurance company wasn't going to pay to fix the damage because they thought it was arson and not an accident.

    While Idora Park closed in 1984, much of it remained standing for years. Yesterday I found this website, by a couple of people who sneaked in and took pictures of the dilapidating structures. I also found this site, Illicit Ohio, featuring several SBNO (standing but not operating) amusement parks, as well as some rather adventuresome pictures of some other abandoned buildings and structures from around Ohio -- this photographer not above a little trespass to document the decay of the interiors of abandoned buildings. These pictures of the old hotel on South Marginal Road fascinated Gina and me. And while Idora Park's remaining structures were bulldozed over in 2001 (Illicit Ohio has pics from prior to that), it would appear that much of Chippewa Lake Park still stands, even though it closed after the 1978 season. Another site dedicated to defunct parks features a detailed report with photos from 1997. With the help of Mapquest, I figured out where the park is, and Gina and I are contemplating a little field trip of our own. There is something about how nature has taken over, the trees growing into and through the ferris wheel and roller coaster tracks -- the whole ghost town sense of it -- I just want to see it for myself.

    All this made me check up on Conneaut Lake Park, another park I visited numerous times growing up. Conneaut Lake Park appears to still be an ongoing concern, but it also appears that the rides on the midway did not operate this season. A campaign there in 2006 to raise money to repair and save the train has no update as to its progress -- and I suspect it has stopped in its tracks. I have a bad feeling that Connie is slipping away too...

    Finally, I stumbled across Olentangy Park. Once is was one of the largest amusement parks in the United States. Today, it would seem almost all traces of it are gone. The park failed after the Depression, the attractions were sold off or razed, and the land was redeveloped into an apartment complex. A rather pleasant one I might add. I remember seeing pictures in the leasing office of a ballroom and pavillion, but it didn't register with me then -- that our Columbus apartment is situated on the grounds of a once grand amusement park.

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    Comments on "Decay and Amusement"


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (8:11 AM, September 12, 2007) : 

    The pic of the trees growing through the ferris wheel are fascinating.

    apparently there are small relics of Olentangy park here on the property. im going to look for the zookeepers house and the fence.


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (8:12 AM, September 12, 2007) : 

    er pics are, not pic are


    Blogger monsieur le coq said ... (9:17 AM, September 12, 2007) : 

    i remember being about 6 or so, riding on the hellhole at conneaut lake park. i loved it. especially when the floor would detach and the spinny death machine would rise up into the gnat-ridden air. the last time i rode it, i noticed some heavier people sliding down the wall, as though the machine wasn't strong enough anymore to sustain the centrifugal force needed to pin every one in place. i remember thinking that it could be dangerous. maybe that added to the fun.


    Blogger Audient said ... (10:00 AM, September 12, 2007) : 

    I think the Hell Hole is gone. I never rode it myself, but I loved watching other people ride it.

    It was a like a giant washing machine, on spin cycle. The wheel would spin so fast that the riders would stick to the wall. Then the floor would drop out, but they just kept on sticking. I loved watching that! And I always assumed that if I rode it, my vomit would stick to the wall too.


    Blogger anne said ... (10:01 AM, September 12, 2007) : 

    I like how the amusement parks have become a reason to let nature reclaim the areas. No one has bought the properties and turned them into condo parks just yet.

    I do love the Olentangy Village. After it was an amusement park, they turned it into a spa/resort thing, right? Now it's just some flippin' awesome apartments.


    Blogger James said ... (1:30 PM, September 12, 2007) : 

    This was a great post! I love this kind of crap! Thanks Audient.


    Blogger Jeremiah said ... (5:30 PM, September 12, 2007) : 

    Fascinating stuff Audient. I think a field trip to one of these areas would be really rewarding, and at the least, a unique to while away an afternoon. I hope you and Gina make it out to one of these spots.


    Blogger Kat said ... (6:14 PM, September 12, 2007) : 

    Some of these pics are spooky..... Good post.

    I remember going ot Idora....


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