Buckeye Lake amusement park was once destination of choice

Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 10:10 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Without the abundance of entertainment possibilities available today, people in the early 1900s occupied themselves with activities close to home. With the advent of the interurban, the possibility of traveling to destinations that offered water fun, boating and other recreational activities was born. Buckeye Lake proved to be the destination of choice in central Ohio starting in 1903, when the bus lines started traveling every half-hour from Lancaster and Newark. The first hotels at the lake were built in 1902, and by 1931 an amusement park was started when "The Dips" roller coaster was built. Not only was the park a tourist attraction, but it also was a major source of income for local residents.

Read more from The Lancaster Eagle Gazette.

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Monday, June 16, 2008 10:16 PM
There's lots of talk, information and nostalgia about urban parks and trolley parks, but the lakeside/cottage park is often forgotten. In Ohio we had several- in addition to Buckeye Lake, Chippewa Lake, Indian Lake, and Meyers Lake come to mind. From the 1920's thru the late 60's it was popular for families to make "the lake" their yearly vacation destination. They would rent a small cottage for a week or two, play in the sun and water through the day then visit the amusement park in the evening. There was usually a seasonal hotel or two for those that made weekend trips from nearby towns. Food at the parks and on the nearby streets was unique and delicious, offered from stands and stalls that were independently owned and operated.

Indiana Beach with it's cottages, small lakeside motels, and campgrounds is probably the best surviving example of that kind of park today. Ontario's Crystal Beach was a wonderful place with that same fantastic atmosphere, and it lasted into the late 80's. In addition to the classic collection of rides and architecture, there was fresh seafood and loganberry drink- a taste you could find nowhere else! We were all enchanted with Crystal Beach on an ACE trip in the early 80's.

In the comments below the Eagle Gazette article, people are speculating as to why Buckeye Lake Park didn't last. I think the demise of such parks is many fold. For one, travel became easier and more commonplace. Vacations of that kind gave way to larger destination parks and families selected different modes of transportation to condo communites and nicer hotels. Also, property along such lakes grew expensive, and cottage owners sold out to developers with permanent year-round lakeside communities in mind. The parks in turn became obsolete, run down, and the land on which they sat was finally sold for better use.

We have several friends with properties at Buckeye Lake now, and the houses range from modest to McMansions. It's all costing an arm and a leg these days! There's little evidence, if any, of the park that entertained central and eastern Ohioans for decades.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 10:38 AM
Unfortunately, Geauga Lake and Lesourdsville Lake will join them in the near future. They are located in high valued property area as well. Aurora/Solon near Cleveland and Liberty TWP/Fairfiled TWP/Monroe near Cincinnati are still being developed heavily.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:04 PM
Mamoosh's avatar Few trolley parks were lucky to survive the late 60's and early 70's, and many that did fell on hard times in the mid-80s. I often wish there was a time machine to go visit places such as Buckeye, Puritas Springs, Idora, Chippewa and so many others that have been lost. Articles such as this, the occasional dedicatory website, and the hope that more people will post their old 8mm home movies to YouTube is about as close as we'll get to getting there.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:07 PM
I thought I'd never say this, but I'm grateful to be as old as I am. And very fortunate to have visited Idora, Chippewa, Euclid Beach, LeSourdesville, and Geauga "back in the day". I'm sure those memories have influenced my preferences in amusement park experiences today and have helped shape the preservationist in me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 3:15 PM
I wish I had gotten to this one. The park closed the same year we moved to the area when I was a couple years old. Wish I had been able to visit all those classic parks^ RCMAC mentioned. Of course, most of them had closed before I realized the depth of my addiction...er, enthusiasm for amusement parks.

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