9 Things You Didn’t Know About Conneaut Lake Park
At first glance, Conneaut Lake Park might look pretty straightforward with a fun water park, lots of kiddie rides, and a classic wooden roller coaster. If you take a closer look though, you’ll find a spot that’s rich in Pennsylvania history and unique in both the rides it offers and the roots the park came from. Here are 9 bits of interesting park trivia you may not have known.
1. The park is over 125 years old.
Conneaut Lake Park recently celebrated its 125th birthday in 2017. As the 2019 season approaches, the lake community is working hard to create and maintain a fun, thriving atmosphere at this historic landmark so that it will be around for the next 125 years too!
2. The original name was Exposition Park.
Colonel Frank Mantor founded the park in 1892 with the vision of an exposition mimicking that of the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. Though its early days Exposition Park remained true to this vision, showcasing the craftsmanship and produce of local farmers and bringing in orators to speak on intellectual topics. Soon, however, rides such as the Virginia Reel, the Three-Way Figure Eight Toboggan Sled, the Aerial Swing were added to provide more amusement to visitors and it was eventually renamed Conneaut Lake Park in 1920.
3. Many of the park’s original buildings were lost in a fire.
In the earliest years, Conneaut Lake Park was a popular resort destination. That is until most of the original buildings burned down during a massive fire in December of 1908. As a testament to the park’s resilient legacy, however, owners and vendors vowed to reopen the park in time for the 1909 summer. Working together, these determined parties beat the odds, constructing a cement plan on the park grounds to produce the fire-proof cement blocks that would be used to build a new Midway and the dance hall famously known as the Dreamland Ballroom. Incredibly, the park did open on time in May of 1909 just as workers were adding the finishing touches!
4. The park used to be triple the current size.
Conneaut Lake Park has transformed several times throughout its history in keeping step with the times. What began as a fairground and exposition for livestock swelled during the train and trolley years adding hotels, convention space, a dancing pavilion, and a music hall. For a time the park even kept pace with places like Coney Island in Brooklyn and Kennywood near Pittsburgh. New amenities were added, including a baseball field, camping area, and a quarter-mile horse racing track. However, the freedom of travel offered by automobiles caused a quick decline in parks nationwide, but Conneaut Lake adapted by adding new rides, like the classic Tumble Bug, as well as the many games and concession stands we still enjoy today along the midway.
5. The Tumble Bug is one of the rarest rides of its kind.
The Tumble Bug was installed back in 1925 and has become a beloved staple at the park. Riders get to enjoy the experience of moving on a rotation while they are sent up and down vertically. Miniature Tumble Bug rides hold 3-4 cars, and full-size rides feature 5-6. The only other Tumble Bug operating is also in Pennsylvania at Kennywood Park.
6. The Blue Streak is a true piece of coaster history.
Edward Vettel Sr. designed ten coasters, and only two of them are operating. Vettel’s classic coaster design is known for a track structure the features multiple wooden layers that are separated into two sections of horizontal cross ties. The only other Vettel roller coaster still running is the Cyclone at Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver, Colorado.
7. Hotel Conneaut is haunted.
The Hotel Conneaut officially opened in 1903, and its popularity led to the addition of two wings on the north and south sides of the building. 40 years later, however, half of this landmark structure was destroyed in a fire. Elizabeth, a bride said to have died in the fire, still roams the halls in her white gown looking for her new husband. But don’t be afraid, as Elizabeth is a friendly ghost who according to many, has helped lost children find their parents and places blankets on sleeping guests.
8. The lake has no horsepower limit.
Park guests get free public access to the beach at Conneaut Lake, where water skiers and boat riders enjoy cruising across the glacier waters. Recreational lake activities are popular at the lake because no horsepower limit is enforced, so it’s the perfect place to really test out that new jet ski!
9. The Ferris Wheel is back!
An amusement park staple, the Ferris wheel hasn’t been available for attendees to enjoy for about a decade, but that is all about to change. The E-R Ferris wheel will be 40 feet tall and feature 12 seats that will take riders up for a bird’s eye view of the park and the lake.