Thursday, May 17, 2001 8:16 AM
Chippewa Lake Park
Monday, May 14, 2001
First off, what we did was “illegal” in terms of trespassing.
The area is fenced off, and there are NO TRESPASSING signs all over the property.
It is very run down and dangerous, so we do not recommend going in there alone or at all.
***If you do, PLEASE DO NOT vandalize or do anything to ruin this place further***
Monday morning started off beautifully as I pulled out of my parents driveway in my 1989 Honda Accord with 133,700 miles on it.
We had gone up to Geauga Lake and had done the Six Flags Park on the shores of it the day before from my town house in Columbus, and since my parents live 15 miles from Geauga Lake, we stayed at their place. Mom and Dad have a one-story, full basement ranch home with a little less than an acre of land, so its a nice place to go to and relax, especially when you want to get away from the drudgery of advertising, which is my profession.
So as my little Green Accord Coupe containing both me and ARROW GUY traveled South on 271 then on 71 our hearts began to race. We had been in the park before, but it was becoming dark at the time, and we missed out on some chances to see a lot of the sites that are there. Ah, but not this time for it was 10:00AM.
The park is about 4 miles from 71, just 12 miles South of the Medina Exit.
We drove up the road to the now named Chippewa Lake Community and parked off to the side. The old parking lot is well grown over, and you cannot even tell it was one. There are many family’s that live in the area. It is a very poor community. Many of the cabins used for vacations are now lived in. I don’t know what the overall economy is like in the area, but this place is really poor, not inner city poor, but “Closed-Coal-Mine-Town-Poor”
The park entrance is directly in front of you as you enter the parking lot. The Main turnaround of the coaster sits up high over the trees, shadowing visitors from the decaying state of the park. What wood was once tan is now black and moist with moss and insects. The Entrance is a fading green with rusting vertical turnstiles, you cannot really make out any signs. The entrance is decaying more rapidly while it sits in a more vulnerable area to the weather. On the right, hidden in the trees there are two holes in the fence where people have been getting in. The oldest of the two has been barb-wired over and over again, and is a pain to get through. Well, there is a new hole, very large and easy to get into, so quickly, and with our cameras, we ventured inside.
Upon entering you are welcomed by grass and weeds growing through the asphalt of the remaining park, after that, and going straight, you come upon a set of trees, and behind that is a standing, but highly vandalized ballroom. The largest structure in the park, the ballroom has kept up well. There is broken glass and old signage laying around, and we found it best to not go inside, not knowing what would be in there.
Passing that, and following the sides of the ballroom towards the lake area we come upon a clearing with again weed-saturated asphalt and some buildings collapsing. Heading over to the lake which is really lovely, there is an old pier that remains in good shape, or so it seems, we then see an old boat parked on the grass with a semi trailer near it.
Moving left, there is a MOWED pathway. People are still coming in here to fish, hangout, etc. Passing another decaying building is my favorite structure, an Old Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel. Stripped of all 12 tubs, the once white or silver wheel is all rust. There is a little bit of blue on its stand left, but the rust has taken over the ride. It has a nicely designed fence around it which is all rust as well. There is a tree growing through the wheel, and it will never turn again.
Beyond that is a red rusted Swinging Gyms ride. That ride used your body weight to make over-the-top rotations. Several Parks featured them in the 60’s including Euclid Beach that had one.
There are more collapsed buildings, some old abandoned cars, a pavilion, a stage, a caboose, Miniature RR tracks, on the way to the first of the three coasters. The first Is a Allen Heschell Little Dipper All rusted, its in really bad shape, but not as bas as the Wild Mouse further down the lot. This ride has sections of track missing and is hidden quite deep within the trees. We dared not explore, since it sits on the edge of a persons property and we heard people nearby, so it was best to go back the other way.
Now the Part you have all been waiting for...
Deeper into the woods, off the main path, we passed the caboose to go towards the Coaster. “Big Dipper” was its name and was also referred to as “Coaster” in its last years. The Fred Pierce design is a fun and airy out and back. very much like the Big Dipper at the Park Formerly Known as Six Flags Over Geauga Lake. There are midway games along side the ride which are falling over and decaying. I had heard that the coaster had not operated in its last 5 years of the then-open park, which is sad if the coaster wasn't running to celebrate the bicentennial.
The essential layout is this:
Upon puling out of the Station, you make a U-Turn to the right, during the turn, you go into a tunnel, but instead of just a plain cave-like opening, there are metal double doors like a Fun house dark ride that slams open. It continues through the tunnel parallel to the station. Then it makes a left U-turn, emerges from the tunnel and goes up a Chain lift. After, getting over the top, it makes a “Geauga Lake Big Dipper” style U-Turn Above the trees, and drops down next to the station, to the left of the tunnel, does an airtime hill, another airtime hill, and one more, during these hills, the coaster track moves a little to left Like the “Geauga Lake Big Dipper”, then it rises into a high right-u turn, and does three or four more small hills on its way back to the station. The station is in bad shape, the ride features the classic handel brakes.
The condition of the coaster:
Sorry, but this ride will never run again. First and most noticeable, is the fact that the ride has been hit by some trees. On the far turnaround, a tree crashed through knocking out a section, there are 3 other sections (that I could see) where falling trees had crushed the track. Next, it appears the area within the kill zone is becoming marshy, some of the supports are tilting and it appears to be “sinking” a little. The ride looks like it featured wood footer's, I am sure it didn’t, but you never know. Next, the tunnel is collapsing, and there are trees growing through the track. The coaster is also very soft, wet, and decaying. This ride would fall over if there was a train on it. This ride will NEVER run again, it would have to be entirely rebuilt, and the footer's replaced. Inside the kill zone near the main turnaround are two sheds. One with old coaster parts including a full (and heavy) chain, and there is another rusted chain next to the ride. Also, the motor house is falling over, and the gears are becoming exposed. The train is also missing.
After spending a lot of time with the coaster, we were about to leave, but hey, there was one more major ride I didn’t get to see. Between the Wheel and coaster is an old Tumble Bug, with its highly decaying cars still on the track, we stared in awe at it. It is still fully assembled, but is in really bad shape.its kind of sad.
We exited the park, making sure that no one saw us, we were very paranoid, because we were trespassing. From there we went back to the car, and to begin our journey to Columbus. On the way we just had to stop and get some food. So McDonald’s was the place to be. They were running a special on Cheeseburgers, so I got some. And some fries to go along with them. I have always enjoyed McDonald’s food, the quality is up there and the service is fast.
My Final Thought:
Chippewa Lake is dead my friends. There is no other way to say it. The city should come in and either make it a museum or demolish the structures and make it a state park with recreation, fishing and swimming and camping. Nothing is salvable, and it will remain very unsafe to trespassers
Some Links of interest: www.defunctparks.com www.geocities.com/theremaing2/chippewa.html www.geocities.com/Pipeline/Curb/1425/ www.mcdonalds.com www.honda.com
Friday, May 18, 2001 7:02 AM
Well, Brad J. Sherman, er eh, "Arrow Guy", has ridden so many Arrow loopers, his memory is not quite what it used to be due to the headbanging.
Its gotten so bad in fact, that he had to put a metal plate in his head. Its all fine, but whenever we rev up the microwave, he pees his pants and forgets who he is for a half hour or so.
But yes, we went to Chippewa. :)
Wednesday, June 20, 2001 4:52 PM
Well, I got a hold of the book on Chippewa lake.
CHIPPEWA LAKE PARK 1800-1978
DIARY OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
BY: Sharon L D Kraynek
There were several rides removed when the park closed in 1978:
Looper (no idea what it is, Allen Herschell, maybe)
According to the book, the park actually opened again for a short time for an "Oktoberfest"
And closed thereafter.
People used to come by both boat and train, and the Lake gave its share of erosion on the property.
ALSO NOTE: Jungle Larry and Safari Jane operated their animal concession from 1659 until 1964. Cedar Pointers will know who they are!
Here is a quote from the book:
"On November 11, 1978, came the official announcement of the park closing by CBE President, G. F. DiGeronimo. Several reasons were given as to why the park closed. New rides were expensive, and other amusement parks were campaigning heavily on radio and television and Chippewa could not compete. The recession had taken its toll.
This was the end of an era.
The ending was summed up best by Evelyn Thomas of Medina, Ohio, when she said 'It was like losing an old friend'"
Makes you want to cry