Sunday, November 11, 2012

Freedomland U.S.A. - July 1960

I recently found a few rare Freedomland slides (circa July 1960, shortly after it opened)... they are nothing spectacular, but it's always nice to see pictures of this park that was only around for four years.

The "Little Old New York" (it's old AND new!) section of Freedomland was a sort more "citified" Main Street. There's even a Macy's! I wonder if they had women who spritzed you with perfume when you walked in. Notice the tracks for the horse-drawn streetcar.

Just as the Mark Twain was a popular photo subject at Disneyland, the two 400-passenger, 110-ft sternwheel steamboats ate up more than their share of film. This one is "The American".

And here is "The Canadian", eh?

There it goes...

And then there's this last one, which is a mystery to me. There appears to be a puppet show of some kind, with sacks of grain (?) and plenty of casks and barrels, which leads me to believe that this has something to do with the Schaefer Brewery. Please chime in if you know for sure!


Nanook said...

If I were one of the folks who happened to be sailing in The Canadian paddle steamer - I'd be a bit concerned about it's apparent listing "just a wee bit" to the port side.

Evidently the "puppet show" was taking place inside the Schaefer Brewery, right there in the Little Old New York section. Bottoms up, kids-!

Chuck said...

Not only is the Canadian listing to port, it's name is written backwards!

No idea what's going on with the marionettes, but they appear to be racially diverse. The one carrying the sack looks like he may be intended to be African-American. While things were changing for the better for mionorities in American society (albeit slowly), that would still be a rather bold step in an amusement park in 1960.

K. Martinez said...

Randall Duell's take on the modern theme park always fascinated me. After the failure of Freedomland they decided not to try and imitate Disney so intensely, but instead use the themed “lands” idea and cleanliness of Disneyland as a way to organize the park and mix it with a collection of lightly themed iron rides normally found at the traditional amusement parks. The success of Six Flags Over Texas proved it was the right choice at that time.

Anyone notice how Randall Duell's parks are organized on a loop instead of the hub/wheel design of the Disney castle parks? Marriott’s Great America, Magic Mountain and AstroWorld were all designed this way. Wish I had the chance to see Freedomland back then.

TokyoMagic! said...

And what happened to those two steamboats? I forget if this has been answered here before, but did some of the stuff from Freedomland get purchased and used in other amusement parks or was most of it just scrapped?

Chuck said...

I know two of the attractions - the San Francisco Earthquake and the Pirate Ride - wound up at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. The Earthquake Ride lasted at least through 1984 and the Pirate Ride through at least 1993. I read a website years ago that talked about what was left and where it had gone, but can't seem to locate it in two minutes of looking. :-) I seem to recall that one of the train stations ended up at a little amusement park in upstate New York, and one of the boats from a water attraction (not sure which one) ended up on a lake somewhere, although I may be confusing that with the final fate of some attractions from Pleasure Island in Wakefield, MA, another one of CV Wood's parks.

Chuck said...

Okay - not the website I found years ago (which included photos of the surviving attractions), but the Wikipedia article on Freedomland , USA ( says:

"Many of the Freedomland rides and attractions were sold to other parks and relocated.

The Crystal Maze, Danny the Dragon, The Mine Caverns, and the Tornado Adventure were moved to The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George, New York, over the course of a few years after Freedomland's closing. The Crystal Maze lasted into the late 1970s/early 1980s until it was converted into a concession stand. In 2006, the Crystal Maze's signature curly Q roof design was removed, leaving only the basic structure intact. In the late 1990s, Danny the Dragon was removed from park operations and placed in storage. In 2005, the Mine Caverns, which had been closed since the late 1990s, were gutted and removed. In 2003, the Tornado Adventure was removed and placed in storage as well.

The Santa Fe Railroad Depot and the San Francisco Railroad Depot moved to Clark's Trading Post, an amusement park in Lincoln, New Hampshire. There is also a replica of Casa Loca, built from the same blueprints. Other Freedomland items that appear at Clark's include bricks from Little Old New York, seats from Space Rover, and street lamps from all over the park.

The Canadian, one of the two sternwheelers from The Great Lakes Cruise, is docked on the Byram River between Greenwich, Connecticut, and Port Chester, New York.

San Francisco Earthquake and Buccaneers were moved to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1966. Earthquake closed in 1985 and Pirate Ride followed in 1996; however, elements of both rides still exist in the park and in storage."

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks for the info, Chuck!!!!

Rob Friedman said...

the info from the Wiki article came from myu site

the remains of one of the NY harbor tugboats is in my back yard. The American languished for years in a Mill Pond in CT until it was taken out, chopped up and hauled away a few years ago

Unknown said...

Here is the Canadian as it sits now (April 1, 2014) in Port Chester NY.

Its now known as "Dot and Bill's Showboat" ( ) but doesn't appear to have been doing anything recently, the property manager at the condo that backs up to the pier says that the owner Bill is trying to get it moved a little down the river to be an attraction for Port Chester.