Wednesday morning I got up early and started doing laundry so we would have something clean to wear that day. We had been on the road now for eight days. A friend of ours met us at my parents’ house at around 10:30 a.m. and by 11:00 we were ready to go.
Memphis Kiddie Park was included as part of the Convention, attendees had to present their badge anytime between Thursday and Saturday for a ride wristband, miniature golf, and a hot dog. Growing up in Cleveland, I of course had been to the park and ridden the coaster. As a matter of fact, it was my very first roller coaster ride. Tim had never been there. I did not remember much about the place, as I was very young the last time I was there. When we arrived at the park there were already a good number of attendees there, and the park also had a good crowd of non-convention goers, which surprised me for a Wednesday. I’m glad to see the place does well. We took a ride on the park’s Little Dipper, a 1952 Herschell model which is, as far as we can tell, the oldest steel coaster in North America. It’s a little on the rough side, and hard on the back of the average adult, but the kids loved it. The park contains a number of classic kiddie rides (most of them Herschell) which are all well maintained. We also took a spin on the train (Herschell of course) that circles the park. I think in addition to the carousel, these are the only three rides that adults can ride. The miniature golf course was nice and several large trees provided shade. There were a couple of clever holes, one had a vertical loop – we dubbed it the Schwarzkopf hole, another had two large camelback hills which we called the Miller hole, a curved one was called a GCI, and one was a big zigzag--we immediately thought of calling that the Dinn hole in honor of his famous Dinn shuffle.
While we there President Carole Sanderson presented the park with a plaque in recognition of their part in hosting our event. With all the super parks in Ohio and FEC’s springing up all over the place, I’m glad a park like this has managed to survive.
After a few hours at Memphis Kiddie Park we headed to Erieview Park in Geneva-on-the-Lake about an hour east of Cleveland. We met up with a few more friends on the way. They have a small Molina kiddie coaster, The Brat, that neither of us had ever ridden. We bought a few tickets and took a spin on the coaster and the dark ride. Some of us also rode the train, but Tim decided to ride the vintage eight-arm Eyerly Octopus as those are difficult to find these days. The train was an old NAD model and the passenger cars look a lot like NAD coaster cars. The engine was really spewing some noxious fumes. One kid who sat in the first car of the train held his hands over his face as we came back into the station. I wasn’t really interested in any of the other rides but they did have a nice complement of classic rides for such a small park including flying scooters, a Herschell Carousel and an Eli wheel. They also had a couple of water slides and those seemed to have the most patrons. On this particular day of our trip the weather was quite nice.
I didn’t know what to think of Erieview, or Geneva-on-the-Lake. The park sits right on the shores of Lake Erie but little has been done to take advantage of its prime location on the lake. There is an old decrepit staircase leading down to the shore, but I don’t think anyone would want to swim there. I could at least envision a nice boardwalk or pier. The town is full of old shops and food stands and a few bars. It’s kind of quaint and I understand that the place gets busy on weekends. During our visit it was kind of slow and a little depressing. I saw a lot of unused potential here. I kept envisioning the town becoming a place like Saugatuk, Michigan.
After Erieview we headed to the location of the former Euclid Beach Park. Little remains of the park, the most notable thing being the Euclid Beach arch right off of Lake Shore Blvd. Right next door is a McDonalds and inside they have some spectacular large black and white photos of the park and the coasters. In front of one of the apartment buildings a bridge from the old turnpike cars still survives. Some of the old concrete leading to the beach and to the pier can also be found, and remnants of the old circular fountain still remain. What’s left of the old pier also juts into Lake Erie. People were swimming in the lake, although it didn’t look particularly appealing. I visited Euclid Beach shortly before it closed and rode the Thriller and the Flying Turns. Walking around the site now it’s hard to believe that a major amusement park once existed here.
From Euclid Beach we headed to another old park that fortunately did survive--Geauga Lake. We got there just in time for the opening reception. I’ll cover that visit in my next trip report.
*** Edited 7/14/2004 2:05:35 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***
Erieview is a stange place. I went there 5 years or so ago with Cheryl Snyder and her family. We were looking for a dark ride and didn't even know the coaster was there. As we were leaving, Erica O'Brien pointed out the coaster. We gave it a ride but thought we broke it in the process as the lift motor started to smell like it was burning. =:^)
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