Saturday, January 21, 2017

Vintage Amusement Parks

Today I have two nice scans featuring scenes from two unidentified amusement parks (or maybe I should say, "kiddie parks"). 

I love this first one, showing parents and kids aboard a miniature railroad. It looks like "back East" to me, but who knows, it could be anywhere. Maybe even another planet. Check out the boy in his little fedora! 

If you were to hazard a guess as to when this was shot, what would you say? I would have thought that it was from the early to mid-1950's. Maybe even late 1940's. And yet the slide is date-stamped "May 1960"! As you can tell, I am very surprised. Maybe the roll of film sat in a drawer for 10 years before it went to the Photomat.

This next one is actually older than the previous shot (based on the red cardboard "Kodachrome" mount, at least), though the colors are still fresh and vibrant. A cute little girl waves happily from her galloping steed - she has the merry go-round all to herself. Just behind her is a little roller coaster; some of those hills are over 6 feet high! Too intense for me. 


Nanook said...


It is hard to believe the first image is from 1960. As you say, it could easily pass for the late 1940's (or earlier-!) And those hats - almost everyone has gotten into the act, except for the gent bearing a vague resemblance to Steve Allen. And then we have the fancy dress outfits along with ties - including the snappy, red bow tie on the lad behind 'Steve Allen'. I can see that level of attire in the 1950's, but by 1960, I find it hard to swallow.

And somebody please give that little girl a bit of company while she spins around that little merry go round. And again - hats off to Kodachrome-!

I'm just gonna throw out a couple of park names which could possibly match these images, but most-certainly are not correct, but what-the-heck: Conneaut Lake Park & Erieview Park.

Thanks, Major.

walterworld said...

The first shot looks like Griffith Park but guess it's not.

Gnometrek said...

These folks are dressed to the nines ... whatever that means. I don't know the name of the park. But looking at the woman in the second car, it may be "The unhappiest place on earth".

Chuck said...

The Erie Lackawanna colors on the train suggest Pennsylvania for sure, but it's definitely not the Conneaut Lake Park trainset that would have been there in the '50s and early '60s. That set looked like this and was sold to Ohio's Erieview Park in 1965. It was sold again to a private owner when Erieview closed in 2007.

The one in the photo is a 16" gauge Allan Herschell Miniature Train Company G-16, produced from 1948-72. It may look familiar to many of you because a G-16 set has run in Griffith Park since the 1950s (see this great GDB post from 2014 for reference). Formerly running at Travel Town, it now operates on the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad in American Freedom Train colors, although it has been converted to 18½" gauge.

I found this interesting tidbit in the catalog for the Allan Herschell Company Records maintained at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

"The Miniature Train Company began the practice of matching paint and decals
on miniature trains to the local commercial passenger lines for their customers. To be as accurate as possible, company officials corresponded with the commercial lines and obtained paint charts, decals, and other related materials."

Based on this information and the fact that the Erie Lackawanna didn't come into being and use that paint scheme until 1960, I think the stamped date on the slide is probably correct.

And wow - Kodachrome!

DrGoat said...

That group looks like an upper class dysfunctional family, worthy of a sitcom. Obnoxious uncle in the middle and all. She kind of looks like a young queen Elizabeth with a Cary Grantish husband bringing up the rear.
We had a little place like this in Tucson back in the '50s and '60s called Kiddieland.

K. Martinez said...

Guess I'm late to the party, but my guess was going to be Erieview Park as well. Still not really sure though. Regardless, old amusement parks are my kind of thing and these two pictures fit the bill. Thanks, Major.

Great detailed research as always, Chuck. Thanks!

Patrick Devlin said...

Love that first shot. I was reminded immediately of the miniature train in Balboa Park, here in San Diego. I knew it wasn't, of course, since the scenery is just a bit off but it evinced pleasant memories of riding that train as a child. It is, as Chuck pointed out, a G-16 from MTC. The Balboa Park ran, and still runs, in Southern Pacific Daylight colors or something pretty close. But fond memories they are and a lovely pick of time gone by. Balboa Park's train is, like the photos, close to a vintage merry-go-round. A good Saturday to all...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it almost looks to me like everyone is dressed in their Easter finery - or maybe it was just a typical Sunday? Not sure if small amusement parks were generally open on Sundays back in that more pious era.

walterworld, yeah, I know Griffith Park pretty well, this looks very different, though I can see what you mean!

Gnometrek, what DOES “Dressed to the nines” mean?!? I’m looking it up right now. (OK, I looked it up, the theories are many and varied - one is that it referred to the 99th Wiltshire Regiment, known for their perfect uniforms. How’s that for obscure?).

Chuck, I think you should write this blog instead of me! Of course I wasn’t necessarily even trying to ID the type of miniature train, but still.. I would love it if you had a blog and did your “Chuck thing” once or twice a week. Meanwhile, it seems rather amazing that this miniature locomotive and its rolling stock would be painted to match a then brand-new railroad. For instance, I can kind of get why a miniature train would be painted to Santa Fe colors, because that railroad line is legendary. Is it possible that the Erie Lackawanna color match is just a coincidence?

DrGoat, I’m giving that lady the benefit of the doubt - she didn’t like having the sun shining directly in her eyes. Yeah, that’s it.

K. Martinez, it’s funny, my very first thought when I saw the landscape was that it reminded me very much of Pennsylvania (where I lived for several years). I was thinking more “Pittsburgh”, but that is only 200 miles or so from the town of Erie.

Patrick Devlin, I had to look up the Southern Pacific “daylight colors”. Very nice! Almost as nice as the Santa Fe’s “Warbonnet” paint scheme, which might be my all-time favorite.

Sunday Night said...

The picture of the girl on the Carousel was so uplifting. No "don't take my picture" attitude for her. Her smile and wave from over 60 years ago brought a smile to my face.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Major, before I read the comments, I too recognized the Erie Lackawanna colors right of the bat (I was sure no one would recognize them, but Chuck stole my thunder!).

I think they're pretty unique--gray car body with the maroon window band bordered by yellow pin stripes, the yellow pinstripe right above the skirt, and the black "roof." I think the odds of a coincidence would be pretty high.

Dean Finder said...

The Phoebe Snow was run by the Lackawanna RR through NJ and PA in the paint scheme starting in 1949. Maybe the park is in Scranton, the RR's home city?

Dean Finder said...

Think I found it. This train ran at Nay Aug Park in Scranton. It looks like the one in these pictures.

Major Pepperidge said...

Sunday Night, I agree, her smile is like a ray of sunshine!

Steve DeGaetano, I suppose you’re right, I just think it’s surprising that they would base the paint scheme on a brand new train line. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

Dean Finder, first of all I learned that “Phoebe Snow” was not just a singer! Who knew? Also, Scranton PA sounds likely. Great detective work! Nay Aug Park, there's a name for you. Interestingly, I just composed a future blog post with another locomotive that is now on display in Scranton. Stay tuned for that one.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Thanks Everyone.

Also, +1 for the mention of the Santa Fe Warbonnet.

I remember riding that train from Fresno to Bakersfield and back. Many moon, many buffalo.