Does anyone remember West View Park?

Monday, April 30, 2007 9:03 PM
Years ago, Pittsburgh had two major parks. Kennywood was one of them but on the other side of the city there was West View Park.

I have mentioned a number of things about this park and there is someone else here that used to work on the Racing Whippet (one of the two major coasters there) that remembers this park as well.

Who else out there remembers this park and can recall some of the experiences that they had there?


Arthur Bahl

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Monday, April 30, 2007 11:09 PM
I remember doing a master plan for Geauga Lake in my college years, and contacting Father Jack Hickey an Edwin Vettle in Florida for information on the Racing Whippet.

They loved that park dearly. I wish I could have visited it in the heyday.

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Monday, April 30, 2007 11:37 PM

Arthur Bahl said:
Years ago, Pittsburgh had two major parks. Kennywood was one of them but on the other side of the city there was West View Park.

I have mentioned a number of things about this park and there is someone else here that used to work on the Racing Whippet (one of the two major coasters there) that remembers this park as well.

Who else out there remembers this park and can recall some of the experiences that they had there?


I guess I would be the "Whippet person" you are talking about :)

I worked there in '76 & '77.

I was one of the last people to ride the Whippet.

Its funny,I was thinking about the park today,this year would be the last season it would be opened 30 yrs ago. :(

I still miss the park to this day,so many great times there.

IMO,I feel they had a better selection of coasters than their rival Kennywood..

If anyone has any questions about the park please ask,I may have some I can answer.


Racing whippet 76-77
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Monday, April 30, 2007 11:46 PM

Agent Johnson said:
I remember doing a master plan for Geauga Lake in my college years, and contacting Father Jack Hickey an Edwin Vettle in Florida for information on the Racing Whippet.

They loved that park dearly. I wish I could have visited it in the heyday.


Sorry for the double post..

Jack Hickey was one of the best and nicest person I have ever worked for.

Edwin aka "Buddy" Vettel was the exact opposite of Jack Hickey,one person you did not want to get on the bad side of,he was a mean bugger.


Racing whippet 76-77
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:58 AM
Too many days spent at WVP to begin to count (I lived within walking distance from the park). Sad, sad day when it closed... I was 16 and had just gotten my license, dang it!

Nothing will ever compare to the Racing Whippet. It just hugged the terrain it was built on. I now have kind of a hard time remembering the track pattern :(

The water smelled like rotten eggs, and the walk through haunted house (Boot Hill) smelled like pee... but I sure wish I could have one day in the time tunnel to take my son there, to see what the "old man" makes such a big deal about!

Now even that "civic improvement".. aka the crappy strip mall they build on the park land... is turning into discount store row or vacant storefronts. Phhht!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:59 AM
If I remember correctly, Jack Hickey was the general manager of the park. Edwin Vettel was involved with the maintainence of the park's three wooden coasters.

There were a number of Vettels involved with wooden coasters. Another of them designed the Thunderbolt at Kennywood.


Arthur Bahl

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:04 AM
Arthur you are correct about their titles..

I believe Margret Hable was the president of the park,and a older couple by the name Kuntz owned the park

I think Andy Vettel was Edwins either brother or cousin.


Racing whippet 76-77
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:51 AM
West View is one of the parks on my, "damn, I wish I had visited" list along with Palisades, Idora, Riverside, Olympic and Bertrand Island. I was always under the impression that the park was clearly "second fiddle" to Pittsburgh's other park, but as I find out more about the place, I am beginning to see they were more like equals. Too bad that both parks didn't survive that rough period in the 70's.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 12:54 PM
Are there any parks that are not on that list?
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:07 PM
Probably not. But if there was a list of a few I could visit with the help of a time machine, that would be one of them!
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:43 PM
eightdotthree's avatar I was just out where West View Park was two weekends ago. What a sad, boring place it is now. I am sure they had visions for bigger and better things at the time, but looking at what is there now makes me shake my head.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:47 PM
And yet so many communities are more than willing to let their local parks disappear and get replaced by something else that creates the same feelings. Look at Palisades Park, Bertrand Island, Riverside Park (Chicago) and Opryland.

How much you wanna bet that people will eventually feel the same way about what replaces Astroworld?

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:59 PM
rollergator's avatar When you DO get that time machine....can I get a seat? How about a fastpass? ;)

Palisades is the one that truly got away from me. But if you find a lake in the PA/OH region that *never* had an amusement venue, that's a pretty rare find.

Miracle Strip, to the best of my knowledge, is still a vacant strip. Wonder what will become of the the property under Joyland and Bell's. Good thing those communities had the foresight to allow (or force) their local amusement parks to close...geez!

Too good of a chance that ten years from now, someone will post "Does anyone remember Conneaut Lake Park?" :(

*** Edited 5/1/2007 8:00:44 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 4:07 PM
That's pro(re)gress for ya. :(
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 4:10 PM

Rob Ascough said:
West View is one of the parks on my, "damn, I wish I had visited" list along with Palisades, Idora, Riverside, Olympic and Bertrand Island. I was always under the impression that the park was clearly "second fiddle" to Pittsburgh's other park, but as I find out more about the place, I am beginning to see they were more like equals. Too bad that both parks didn't survive that rough period in the 70's.

Actually many years ago Kennywood was "second fiddle" to West View.

I think one of the final blows was when Danceland burnt down,that was a beautiful ballroom too.


Racing whippet 76-77
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 5:38 PM
The fond memories I have of West View Park is what's really behind my enthusiasm for amusement parks and coasters. We spent a lot of time there during my childhood (I was 9 when the park closed). The Racing Whippet was the first adult roller coaster I ever rode. The Kiddie Dips were great...probably rode those a hundred times a summer.

I grew up in Pittsburgh (Lawrenceville) so the park was not too far away (just over the 40th St. bridge and down Babcock) to go there for a couple of hours in the evenings. We did this a lot, particularly with the Thorofare tickets, but also with the picnic tickets that you could stop on the way and buy at Lincoln Drug in Millvale.

Those Thorofare tickets really made a difference for me and a lot of the people I grew up with, by making it possible to go to the amusement park and to have some fun, even though there wasn't a whole lot of money at home for extras. It was great at the end of the summer when they did a whole lot of Thorofare days. We'd go every night. My dad would wait for us on those benches outside the restroom when you came in (Across from the Dips and the Antique Cars). People would just hand him tickets. We'd go every night and ride until the time was up (I think it was 8 pm), then we'd get some food.

I travel with my husband and kids to parks like a lot of you do, not so much for the latest thrill roller coaster but to capture a little bit of that feeling and to see my kids enjoy some of the same things I did when I was their age. A lot of the rides from West View Park are still out there at other parks - Conneaut Lake Park has some in their kiddieland, Knoebels has some of the antique cars, the haunted house that was at Erieview and will hopefully be at CLP some time soon. The train is/was at Lake Winnie. There are others too I'm not thinking of right now - maybe some of you know.

Rationally I know it wasn't the fanciest place, but in my memories it shines like gold.

Sandi

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 5:52 PM
Back in the early 1960s, West View was doing the major ride additions while Kennywood was worried about losing their lease on the land. That limited KWs ability to add rides other than flats and darkride modifications. After West View added a gas powered car ride, a Tracey Darkride,and a Sky ride, KW had some catching up to do because West View also had the better coasters. KW had a better walkthrough and carousel and also had an Old Mill.

In 1966 West View's owner died and the heir did not continue the major additions and improvements. Meanwhile KW boldly added an even bigger car ride and enlarged one of the coasters into the Thunderbolt. Eventually in 1971 KW bought their land and then added bigger rides including a Log Flume costing a million dollars. West View couldn't keep up, lost picnic bookings, and closed a few years later.

The main place where Kennywood had it over West View during the 60s was in the things other than rides, KW had better landscaping, was cleaner, and had a friendlier atmosphere. They also had more and better shows. West View did have their Dance Hall but Kennywood had a swimming pool.


Arthur Bahl

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 7:33 PM
Sandi..

You said you rode the kiddie dips alot,remember the older guy(Orville was his name and always wore a cowboy hat) that operated the ride?

His favorite pastime while working was,shooting flies out of the air with this giant rubber band,he was pretty good at it.

Another employee that comes to mind is "Jinx".He worked on the Whippet with me.How he got his name was..he worked on every ride at one time or the other,he broke EVERY ride that he worked on,that includes Boot Hill(it was a walkthrough funhouse,he broke the crank down door at the entrance)

Thorofare days were the busiest days,POP were the exact opposite,you could literally count the number of people in the park those days,thats when we would take many "employee" rides on the Whippet.


Racing whippet 76-77
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Wednesday, May 2, 2007 9:19 AM
I'll let you know when I acquire that time machine, Bill ;)

I never knew that West View was Pittsburgh's premier park- guess I'm just used to Kennywood being the one and only. I do remember reading that Kennywood didn't own its land and was hesitant to add major rides, so what you said made a lot of sense... not to mention confirmed what I once heard.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:20 AM

Ex_Westview and KW_worker said:

His favorite pastime while working was,shooting flies out of the air with this giant rubber band,he was pretty good at it.


That's hilarious. Memories are a curious thing. :)

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