Decades before Warren County’s Kings Island became a regional attraction in the early 1970s, Americana Amusement Park was a premier summer attraction for thousands of Southwest Ohio families.
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LeSourdsville Lake was one of my early childhood amusement parks and was also where I took my first big roller coaster ride. I was about 5 or 6 and my Dad took me on the Cyclone. Hated it, screamed the whole way, and swore off coasters forever. (I thought about that ride every day, though, and never fear, I eventually got over it...)
When I was in the 2nd grade we moved from Dayton to Cleveland and Cedar Point became our family's go-to place.
I never forgot LeSourdsville, though, and one spring day when I was in college at Miami U I drove to Monroe for another visit. I went straight to the coaster which by then carried the name Shooting Sky Rocket. I was surprised by how small it seemed, but was even more surprised at how it kicked my ass all over the place. And there was very little wonder how it frightened me so as a boy.
After that I made the park an every year or so habit. After I moved to Columbus it was a nearby better bet whenever I'd get down to Kings Island and find it too crowded. In fact, it was there that I first ran into members of ACE, there on a side trip from Coaster Con II for The Beast. I mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Allen Ambrosini who sat in front of me on a coaster ride. The guys were so nice to me and some invited me to attend the rest of the convention with them, offering space on the floor of their hotel room. I burned I-71 up tearing home to pack a bag then head back. So I credit Americana as the place where I first became a full-fledged, legal enthusiast. (Once, then almost a couple of decades later as fate would have it)
The park grew into a rather sad place as the end drew near, it never rose above all that was happening to the east. The last attempt to turn the park to its glory days was weird. The new owner somehow acquired a bunch of carnival rides that I recognized from the recently defunct Pugh Bros. Shows out of Lancaster Ohio, and they were scattered awkwardly around the park filling in holes here and there. The crowd that day was just awful, not in number, but in demeanor. We tried our best to have fun, but I could see the writing was on the wall. We left out of there and I had a feeling it would be my last time. It was.
So I'm left with memories of The Whip, the Fun Parade walk-through, Laff in the Dark, Mystic Maze, Rock o Plane, Speedboats, Calypso (thank you, Holiday World!), the big slide inside the Old Woman's Shoe, and awesome picnic fried chicken.
Oh, and not least, the wonderful John Miller ride that started it all for me.
We had two parks in PA that seem to be similar to Lesourdsville Lake. Same thing with me I grew up at those parks for company picnics. I'd ride their wooden coaster at least 30 laps in a day there.
Willow Mills Amusement park had red streaker and Williams Grove had Cyclone. Red Streaker was a small out and back with a good amount of air time. Cyclone had the reputation of being a rotting mess, but when the park was making money it was better than enthusiasts remember.
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