Monday, August 20, 2012

120 years gone

Musings on Conneaut Lake Park, which opened in western Pennsylvania in 1892 and is a bit torn and frayed, but still hanging on. View an expanded high resolution photo set here.

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Look at you sitting over there playing with yourself. 

Cut it out already. Get off your duff. You need to come here and you need to come here soon.

Conneaut Lake Park

Now I'll admit that this place is a bit rough in spots.

But on the bright side, it's not very crowded. In fact, you probably won't have to wait in any lines at all.

Here's the thing: sometimes you find the rarest gems in the least likely places. For instance, the Goat is standing in front of one of the oldest and ricketiest wooden roller coasters in the world.

Yes, you can still ride the Blue Streak. No you don't get anchored down with some thick metal yoke. You sit in a gondola and hold onto a bar. And when you go over the swells of this ancient beauty, you get old school air time. You either know what I'm talking about or you don't.

No, you will not feel safe.

Conneaut Lake Park

Oh ferchirssake. That's a Tumble Bug and it's one of two or three left in the world. Get that? In the WORLD. For two bucks you can ride it yourself and hear it's old-man sounds and ride it's buxom swells.

This carousel is more than one hundred years old--almost as old as the Goat--and another two clams will get you the privilege of hopping onto that surreal bunny, or the llama, or the bear, or the sea dragon, or one of the traditional horses (candy ass).

Will you dig this Kiddieland sign? Talk about a nightmarish clown. This one was created before people knew what a nightmarish clown was. HELL YEAH.

Is there any doubt the non-operational Haunted House is actually haunted? I think not. 

You walk around this place for a while and you'll want to take pictures of everything, including the defunct Round-Up.

People, this is a pretzel dark ride, which is also rare as hell. Again, no competent padded steel safety bars, just an old-time gondola with a bar across the front. You load in and scale a little hill, then get thrown around a crazy track with creep-o stuff jumping out of the utter blackness--all courtesy of gravity.

You have to smell it to believe it.

Another two bucks to take a blast through the Devil's Den. Or you can buy an all-day wrist band for $15 ($20 band includes unlimited rides on the Blue Streak.)

The water park is a little dry these days.

But this is what trying really hard looks like.

Admission, by the way, is free. Also, all of this glory is situated next to a magical place called Camperland.

Talk about your beautiful life.

Conneaut Lake Park

Bye for now, Conneaut. I hope we both make it to next year.

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Verdant Earl said...

Riding the buxom swells sure sounds like a good thing.

Kirk said...

Frayed delight.

Erin O'Brien said...

Aw how I love that old ride. Old man sounds and buxom swells sure captures it.

Erin O'Brien said...

You said it, Kirk. It's only about an hour and a half from Clevo. You should find a date and go!

DogsDontPurr said...

Now this is my kind of place. Not because I like going on rides. And I hate Disneyland. But for the ghosts that live there. The pure picturesqueness of the crumblingness. Something on the verge of extinction, a memory of the past. Love it!

There is a legend in my family that one of my Dad's distant uncles was a brain surgeon who owned an amusement park...and subsequently lost it in a poker game. I imagine that if it were still around today, it would look something like this.

Erin O'Brien said...

DDP, I just knew you would get this.

Judy said...

I remember riding the Blue Streak at a different park...

Jen said...

oh wow, i need to go there, with my camera, of course. i loved your descriptions. you basically described my childhood amusement park experiences. so yes, i'll be heading out to this little gem.

a few summers back, my husband and i snuck into the old chippewa lake amusement park. it's been closed for years, and the old roller coaster is now crumbling in the woods. if you go further in then we did, you can find the tea cup ride and the tram, all decaying as the woods take over.

not sure if the company who bought the land ever tore it down. they were going to build a modern "health resort". i like to think it's been left alone. the old dance hall is still out there rotting and collapsing.

Erin O'Brien said...

Go soon, GG, Conneaut may not make it to the 2013 season. I think they're open weekends through Sept. Check the website. One thing's for sure: you will love it.

Derf said...

Been there! Took my kids there a couple times when they were smaller.

I grew up at Chippewa Lake Park, a bigger but equally retro version of Conneaut, out in Medina's rural hinterlands, where the nights are as dark as the local Teabaggers' hearts. Right on the shore of the lake. The rocket car ride used to swing out over the water. It had an annual BF Goodrich Day where employees and their families had free run of the park. A highlight of every summer. Closed in 1978 and was left to return to nature. 30 years later, trees were growing through the coaster tracks. I went there a few times, like visiting a family grave.Totally spooky and sad. Couple years ago, they made a low-budget slasher film there and then bulldozed the remains. McMansions will likely spring up soon, if they haven't already.

Some the Chippewa rides were moved to Geneva Lake, which is also seedy and retro, and to Conneaut. Pretty sure my aunt gakked on that very Tumblebug! You wonder how often state inspectors show up at these places. Probably a good idea just to look and not ride.

Melissa said...

I stumbled upon your blog while searching for a pepperoni roll recipe. I fell in love with your no nonsense languistics and kept on reading after securing said recipe. I had to comment on this particular entry because I am a native to the conneaut lake park area and frequented the park as a child. I had an absolutely terrifying experience on the blue streak with my sister and father at the ripe old age of 12 and never went back. I picked up on your "air time" refernce and it sent me back to that day. I don't think i'll be taking my children there any time soon but I certainly appreciated the walk through memory lane!

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting Melissa. Welcome.