Saturday, August 29, 2020

Amusement Parks

It's time for some vintage amusements! YOU like vintage amusements, it said so in your dossier.

When Elvis Presley sang about a "Mystery Train", he was probably singing about this very train. "16 coaches long"? Yep, that seems about right! I wish I had some good solid information about where and when this photo was taken, but... no such luck. I just love the barren landscape, the candy-cane striped light pole, the "GOLF" sign (miniature golf I assume?), and of course, the yellow and red beauty of a locomotive hauling its load of squirming children. 

Seeing that arid surroundings make me want to say that this is somewhere in California, but it could just as easily be Oklahoma, Texas, or other places.

We at least have a date for this next one, "August 1967". But I don't have the faintest idea where this wooden Indian (holding a handful of cigars) would have been found. This scene is probably not very PC, but it's a record of a moment in time over 50 years ago. 

This last one is from July 1975, and was helpfully labeled, "Ontario Place". I thought it might be a photo of an Expo, but Wikipedia tells us that Ontario Place is an entertainment venue, event venue, and park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The venue is located on three artificial landscaped islands just off-shore in Lake Ontario, south of Exhibition Place and southwest of Downtown Toronto. It opened on May 22, 1971, and operated as a theme park centred around Ontario themes and family attractions until 2012 when the Government of Ontario announced that it would close for redevelopment. It has since reopened as a park without admission but without several of the old attractions. The Government of Ontario is currently considering further redevelopment of the site.

Now you know!


Nanook said...

Love that first image. Late 1940's, perhaps-? The 'golf' we can see behind the sign is a driving range, although maybe there's more to it. The "OSHA-approved" loading ramps for the train are real beauties. It's clear the two lads in front are 'seasoned riders', as they each have their roll stock tickets at-the-ready. (Just deposit them in the orange, "Train" ticket box). All Aboard-!

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, it looks like one of the train passengers already fell off one of those OSHA-approved loading ramps!

K. Martinez said...

The first pic is my favorite. The weedy environment and telephone pole give it a nice touch. Always had a thing for miniature train rides too. Those low-tech loading ramps and platform really take the cake.

As a child, my parents took me to little amusement spots like this and I always remember having a good time. Thanks, Major.

Budblade said...

That train pic is great. It would be pretty cool to have that in my backyard so I could ride whenever I wanted. I wonder what that forth kid did to break his arm? Probably wassilin I think.

stu29573 said...

Yep, as much as I hate going along with the group (I'm a hoot when we try to figure out a place to eat), I gotta go with the train! And yes, that's a driving range. My dad LOVED golf and I spent many hours at the range with him when I was a kid. I didn't participate, but I would watch him. I only like golf that involves little windmills and such...

Andrew said...

Very nice! I love how the train looks like it could've been set up in a neighborhood playground... or anywhere!
Here's the Ontario Place area today from a similar angle as your picture. The multicolored building in the foreground appears to be the office for the Ontario Place Marina. If you zoom out and look at the "West Island," you can see an extensive, abandoned log flume that seems to be the main if not the only thing that's been left to rot today.

Nanook said...

@ Budblade-
Clearly, that broken arm is the result of excessive exertion on the driving range.

Melissa said...

Oh, my goodness, Ontario Place! I haven’t thought about that in years!

I love how some intrepid Mom or Dad stepped in front of the train to snap a picture.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
After more careful study of the two, towheaded lads in the front, I'm wondering if they might be twins-?

Unknown said...

Daily reader... first time commenter.
I loved Ontario Place as a kid. We went there every summer. They had lots of those rope climb things for kids, and then you could side down a long set of metal rollers (like the kind that things would roll down in an assembly line). They probably took them away because kids got their fingers caught... but they were fun! They had water slides, a flume ride, and giant swings.

We went last summer to take a look, and the place is deserted and basically rotting away. I hope they redevelop it soon!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Welcome, Divajones!

Mike said...

I recognized Ontario Place right away. I grew up in Michigan and vacationed in Toronto for the first time in 1974, just a year before that photo. That white geodesic dome is called the Cinesphere, and was the first time I had ever seen a structure like that. It was the first thing I was reminded of when 9 years later I visited Epcot and saw Spaceship Earth for the first time in 1983.

To me, Ontario Place was like a super-duper Tomorrowland with all the bright white structures and ramps. Another feature I remember was playing on its minature golf course, which was themed after Alice in Wonderland. I remember one hole where you had to hit the ball between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don’t think the first photo is from the late 1940s… I can’t be sure, but the style of Kodachrome slide mount seems more like the ‘50s version. I wonder if those boys were told, “Don’t lose your tickets!”, and so they were hanging on as if they were solid gold?

Lou and Sue, young Horst broke his arm once a month. On those same ramps.

K. Martinez, I sure wish we could determine where photo #1 was taken! There aren’t really any solid clues to go by though. I guess it will remain a mystery. I only remember one little “kiddie park” from childhood, it was set up in the vast parking lot of a shopping center.

Budblade, yes, if you can’t have a live steam locomotive (like Walt’s “Carolwood Pacific”), then one of those little “diesel” beauties would be the next best thing.

stu29573, I was pretty sure that the first photo was the best… that’s why I put it first! I never got into golf, but it was fun to go to the driving range with my dad once in a while. I was terrible at it, but once in a while I’d hit one that went straight and far.

Andrew, my guess is that the little train setup didn’t last very long - kiddie parks like that probably didn’t have much longevity. Thanks for the link to Google Maps, I don’t know why I didn’t think to do that!

Nanook, maybe it’s time for him to take up bowling instead.

Melissa, I assume that the train wasn’t moving at the time!

Nanook, I was noticing some resemblances in some of those faces too.

Divajones, thank you for your memories of Ontario Place! It seems hard to believe that a park like this wouldn’t be popular with the locals, but parks also take money to maintain. It’s possible that it was deemed “unnecessary”, which is a bummer if true. I also hope they restore it and make it a place for families to visit!

Lou and Sue, you are the official GDB welcome committee!

DrGoat said...

I'm digging that first pic too. Really liking those 'Indian' decals on the front of the locomotive. Reminds me of a permanent amusement park (I use the term amusement lightly) here in Tucson Called Kiddyland. In the 50s, early 60s every kid in Tucson went there. They had a similar train and a few carnival rides. They had an early version of the Loop-O-Plane that was a nightmare. Every bolt and nut on that thing was loose. If you were a little kid, you usually ended up down in the nose hanging on for dear life. And when you de-planed, you swore never to ride it again.
Thanks Major.

DrGoat said...

Major, just a comment on the previous post. You're correct. Estes never used a liquid fuel. They used some sort of solid propellant. The gasoline engines you could get in the back of comics was some other type, made out of metal. Fairly dangerous under certain circumstances, like when kids are involved. That reminded me of the water rocket you pumped up and released. Tons of fun.

Omnispace said...

Golf, driving range, tiny train, and what might be a pony ride to the left of the photo! I wonder if they had put-put as well; perhaps not with the height of those weeds, eh?

The second pic could be some tourist spot in Minnesota, though I'm sure there were countless others throughout the country.

Ontario Place! I'm envious of Divajones for getting to experience it. They must have just shut it down when I stopped by there with a friend trying to get onto the premises to walk around. Being a gated facility we were turned around pretty quick. But I guess they had some great evening concerts at the old Molson Amphitheater. There was the kids park, and I was told the sphere was the first Imax Dome theater. It's a shame that nothing has really been done with it. It's a prime location on the waterfront.

JG said...

Terrific pic of the kids on the train, reminds me so much of my youth doing similar things. I feel for the boy with the broken arm, I broke my arm twice in elementary school, same arm, 3 years apart. Clumsy.

Welcome Mike and divajones, enjoying your memories, thanks for sharing.

Ontario Place was certainly a monument to 70’s design, it has it all!


DBenson said...

No adult engineer? Guessing it's either a very small loop or the the guy is off camera, flirting with the sno cone girl or maybe just obliging the photograher.

Warren Nielsen said...

There was a train similar to the one pictured here at Woodland Park in Seattle when I was a kid growing up there. I have no idea if it's still around, mostly likely no, it's been years since I have been up there. I notice there are no girls on board. But I will take the car please. The coloring on the license plate makes me think California, but other states may have had color schemes close to that too.

The young lady in the 2nd pic has a look that says "See my left hand? The one that has no ring on it? Maybe this handsome guy has one for me if you don't get with the program pretty soon."

Fun pics today. Thanks Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, I’ll bet hundreds of miniature locomotives of that sort were built for parks all over the country - I’m almost positive that I have seen (and maybe even posted) photos of similar trains. Kiddyland in Tucson? I’ll bet there are people that have wonderful childhood memories of it, even if it was nightmare fuel (like you described)!!

DrGoat, ah interesting. I have a vague memory of some white powdery substance that was used as a propellant (though it has been a LONG time). Gasoline engines might not be that dangerous, my understanding is that it’s gasoline fumes that are the truly explosive, dangerous thing. What do I know!

Omnispace, hmm, I didn’t really notice that fenced-in enclosure, perhaps there really was a pony ride. That place had everything! There were SO many western-themed parks all over the country, that unless we get lucky and somebody recognizes that exact wooden Indian, we’ll probably never know where that park was. Too bad you didn’t get to see Ontario Place - just a case of bad luck. Funny how we always think, “I’ll just come back some other time!”, and never get the chance.

JG, my brother broke his arm by falling off of monkey bars. I was so jealous of his cast! Especially when other kids signed it. I remember my mom tried to wrap it in a plastic dry cleaning bag so that he could go swimming - needless to say it failed miserably. I forget if the water affected the plaster in any significant way though.

DBenson, I think you’re right, the engineer was putting the moves on the ladies!

Warren Nielsen, I think the safer bet is that the little train you remember is gone. That seems to be the way things go, for the most part. It’s hard to make a go of a little park like that. Why would those boys want any yucky girls along? No thank you! I also thought that the license plate might be a California tag - I also wondered if those were oil derricks way in the distance, which might place this somewhere near Long Beach? Gosh, that girl looks awfully young to be thinking about marriage!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Welcome, Mike (G.)! I've only been on GDB for a little over a year, and I don't think I've seen you comment here, before.

[Lou and] Sue
"Official GDB Welcome Committee"

Dean Finder said...

Ontario Place looks like it was borrowed from Montreal's 1968 Expo pavilions.

I remember those roller slides Divajones mentioned at NJ's (in)famous Action Park. They warned you not to lead back, but people inevitably did, and occasionally someone with long hair got it caught in the rollers. Losing a chunk of scalp is probably not how those people planned to spend their day.