Amusement park located in Chippewa Lake, Ohio.
Open from 1878 - 1978.
In 1878, Chippewa Lake Park (CLP) was founded as a public beach and
ballroom. During its heyday, it had three roller coasters. Unfortunately a
combination of fire damage and a dwindling market sent the park into, after a
century of operation, irrecoverable bankruptcy. The park's demise was far from
sudden. It had been spiraling into decay for about five years before its final
day, and, by the very end, was only serving as little more than a private party
centre with a beach. Amazingly enough, a large number of buildings and rides
still remain in existence and standing at CLP.
Organized picnics at Chippewa Lake date back to 1840s. Edward Andrews
officially opened the park in 1878 and named it Andrews Pleasure Grounds. During
the management of Andrews the park’s best days were the early ones, consisting
mainly of picnics, dancing, shows, and occasionally fireworks.
Andrews remained owner and operator until the introduction of Mac Beach in the
early 1900s. The park had its first roller coaster and a steamboat by the 1880s,
but Andrews just couldn’t seem to keep the park under his control. CLP had major
problems related to alcohol, and Andrews wasn’t the man to end them.
With Beach, the golden era of CLP were just beginning to start. His management
would breath life into the park and create its reputation as a wonderful place
for a family getaway. Not only that, but he purchased the first carousel!
Mac Beach would eventually give way to his son, Parker Beach. Parker Beach ran
CLP during what is normally regarded as its glory days. Attendance would never
be better, shows would never be more crowded, and people would never be more
satisfied with their experience.
Parker Beach died at the age of 86 on February 1, 1992. Although he was forced
to sell CLP when profits dwindled, he managed to keep it amazingly popular
during its own era. An era before Disney World would steal away trade from
smaller parks. It’s amazing to think that Disney’s lure could reach out from the
swamps of Florida and steal away crowds from the banks of Chippewa Lake, but
thus is life.
Gasping for life, Chippewa’s new managers would try to compete with a new type
of campaign. Rather than trying to entice crowds with the newest types of
attractions, they would win appreciation by lowering their prices and
emphasizing their park as a family resort. Even the “weekend getaway” approach
could not save the park, and it closed its doors a final time on its 100th
anniversary in 1978.
The past damage dealt by fire is evident in the ruins of the park. The
midway would be unrecognizable to someone who remembers the park during its
peak. The ballroom, in my opinion, can be (and should be) saved. Somehow.
Anyhow. The ballroom was the first part of the park I saw as we approached, and
it has left an impression on me. I have heard that most of the coaster cars and
all of the carousel horses have been purchased by people who either collect or
refurbish these items. It seems that the two most frequent visitors these days
are drunks (due to the bottles we found) and birds (due to... the birds we
Update: The ballroom has been burnt down. The rest of the park calmly awaits dozing and development.