Chippewa Lake Amusement Park
Hidden on a lakeshore in Medina County are the remains of an abandoned amusement park called Chippewa Lake Park. The park has been abandoned for more than 30 years after closing in 1978, though the park did open once more in 1979 for an Oktoberfest. After 100 years in operation, the park is overgrown, but barely forgotten.
Every year people plan trips to visit the park and in past years it has been easy to go back into the park behind the NO TRESPASSING signs, but now, until the fall, the owners of the park are allowing people to come inside the park from 11am to 5pm on one Saturday a month for free self-guided picture tours.
After driving down Main Drive in Chippewa Lake Ohio, the road dead ends to the old entrance gate.
The Big Dipper RollerCoaster
The coaster, also know as the Big Dipper, was built in the 1920's by the Pearce Family. It was one of the three coasters in Chippewa Lake Park by the time the park closed.
The Big Dipper is thought to be the first coaster in the park, but there was a coaster of an unknown name that existed prior to this coaster.
The previous coaster required the cars to be pushed to the top of the hill and then people rode down the hill and the cycle continued.
The Big Dipper is an out and back coaster, meaning that the cars leave the station and make a long trip away from the station, then make a turn and head back to the station.
The Ferris Wheel
The Ferris Wheel was replaced with the a newer one in 1946. The same Ferris Wheel stands today, although without its cars. Sometime in the 1940's, they sped the wheel up and it because know as the "Fastest Ferris Wheel in the World!"
Today it stands with a large tree growing right through the center of it. I've heard that the seats, were removed by locals who would remove one, then turn the wheel by hand to remove the next, and so on. They also could have been sold at auction. I'm not sure which is true.
The Tumble Bug
Tumble Bugs, which are rare today, were very popular rides in the early amusement park days, and Chippewa Lake Park had one called simply the "Bug" or "The Tumble Bug". This ride was built by the Traver Company in Beaver Falls, today you'll find only a few still in operation as most of them have been scrapped. It was installed in 1927 where it stands to this day.
The ride is just a round track with steep up and down dips. There are bug shaped cars in a train that circles the track going up and down those dips. The riders sit on a flat bench seat in a circular car while holding on to a wheel in the center.
Today, the bug sits in the newly cleared park and I have heard that someone in the Chippewa Lake Park Yahoo! Group has permission from the current owners of the park to renovate the Bug and there is talk of moving the bug and the Ferris Wheel across the lake to operate.
The Hamburger Factory (a.k.a. Stand A)
The Hamburger Factory, also known as Stand A for many years, stood not too far inside the entrance to the park, overlooking the lower midway area from its patio and looking across to the hotel on the opposite side.
The building served various foods, including burgers, and was in use until the park's closing days. It also served the late night dancing crowds from the Ballroom.
From pictures I've seen, there is a lot of junk in the basement, like a speaker, sign that says "The Original Hamburger Factory", and the famous Chippewa Lake Park 100 years of fun cups.
These ticket booths didn't always exist. At one time, there was simply an entrance arch. The arch was removed in 1960 and a new entrance was built.
Then in the 70s the park was fenced in and this current ticket booth was installed.
One of park's greatest treasures was the Hotel Chippewa. It provided a great view of the lake and the hotel was the source of countless memories for the park's visitors over the years. The hotel dates back in to the 1800's, and was still standing in the years after the park closed.
The lower floor of the hotel was a food service area which was originally operated by Mac Beach's mother. The upper floors were the hotel area and the hotel was often fully booked. I heard that many of the guests remember nice nights sitting on the porch watching the time pass as the lights from the park reflect off the lake.
After the park closed, the hotel was burnt down. A man who witnessed the fire said that some youths had been yelled at for causing trouble at the hotel, and then possibly later coming back to light it on fire. When the fire was over, the hotel was almost a complete loss. Only a small section still stands today, but it really does not show much of the original building.
The Starlight Ballroom
At the close of the 1922 season, the old dancing pavilion was razed, and a cavernous new ballroom rose on its site.
The new ballroom featured a huge dance floor, ample seating, and a refreshment bar. The ballroom has hosted countless dances over the years, once a 5,404 paid crowd came to see Vaughn Monroe.
The motto of the park was "Dancing Every Night", and for many years it lived up to its name. The number of couples that met here is unimaginable. One of the ballroom's many claims to fame is that Lawrence Welk did his first major audio broadcast from the ballroom in 1937.
Things like church services were held there on Sundays and food was served along side the dance floor. There were car shows, dances, concerts, battles of the band, and much much more.
After standing for around 80 years, the Chippewa Lake Park Ballroom was lost to fire on June 13, 2002 at around 5pm. A young girl from the area was playing with fire or matches in the ballroom and accidentally started the blaze. The girl, under 18 years of age, eventually confessed. The ballroom was then a total loss.
The Future of the Park
Plans were made to turn the old park into a resort and hotel along the lake. As of Spring 2011, it is rumored that the funds ran out and the project has been abandoned. Hopefully the plans to renovate the Tumble Bug and Ferris Wheel, are still on.