Abandoned Amusement Park
I recently took advantage of a four-day weekend (thank you, Passover!) to fly back to Ohio to see my family and friends.Two of the four days were set aside for friends and exploration, and as soon as I landed my friend JMP and I hit the road in search of an abandoned amusement park. The park was open for 100 years—from 1878 through 1978—and currently sits abandoned and overgrown, surrounded by small houses. Apparently the rides remained salvageable well into the 90s, but the 2000s weren't kind to the park and several of the buildings and rides have since been demolished or have burned down.
Despite its current state of ruin, I was actually pleasantly surprised by how many rides are still there—I had done some research and was only really expecting to see the Ferris wheel, so everything else felt like a bonus. The park originally had nearly 20 rides, in addition to bathrooms, snack bars, a ballroom, a hotel, ticket booths, souvenir shops and an outdoor theater.
One of the first piles we came across was what remains of the old ballroom. We spent some time wondering what the twisted metal could have once been—it looks an awful lot like a roller coaster track—but the bathroom remnants, chairs and appliances below the beams were puzzling. The ballroom is one of the buildings that was destroyed by a fire—one that must have been quite intense judging by the warped and undulating beams.
The Ferris wheel was a definite highlight, and just as spooky-looking in person as I imagined it would be. Even without its cars it's still such an instantly recognizable shape that just screams "amusement park." It was a bit smaller than I expected and we thought at first we might not even find it, but seeing it rise out from the weeds was a major thrill.
Next to the wheel is a collection of three Tumble Bug cars, and we saw another one nearby in a neighboring yard. Only two Tumble Bug rides remain in operation today, both of which are in Pennsylvania. The buildings that remain, if you can even really call them buildings anymore, are all collapsing in on themselves, and others have long been reduced to piles. One building was recognizable as bathrooms, and one was probably a snack stand but they were all in pretty bad shape.
The other iconic amusement park silhouette is the coaster track, and I was so happy to find two. The first one had the most wonderful, colorful peeling layers of paint and its curves rising through overgrown vines reminded me of a dinosaur (specifically the Sinclair Oil Apatosaurus).
I loved the trees that were growing right through the coaster tracks—in some places trunks and branches even seemed to be slowly consuming the rusty rails. I'm glad we went before the trees really start getting their leaves. Many of the rides are so overgrown that they're easy to miss, and I can imagine that they disappear almost completely in the dense summer foliage.