I can’t entirely take the credit for this find–well, I can, but it wouldn’t be entirely fair. Not that it usually stops me…..
I’m reading the copy of Best New Horror 21 I picked up at Fantasycon, and I’ve just finished “Out & Back” by Barbara Roden. In her introduction, she mentions the photos of Chippewa Lake Park she’d found online, and it would have been rude not to look, wouldn’t it?
Yes. Yes it would.
Not far from Medina in Ohio, it opened in 1878 and was abandoned a century later. Since then, it has stood derelict with the rides slowly collapsing or being overtaken by forest. In the case of the 1924 Pearce-built wooden rollercoaster, this looks a little weird; almost as though the coaster rails have suddenly woken up again and started to grow leaves.
Deserted amusement parks have always struck me as being slightly spooky places, but one that’s been that way for 30 years and has run to wilderness… that’s a whole new level of creepy.
Sadly, as with all abandoned places, the park has fallen victim to more than the elements: vandalism is rife, and the Grand Ballroom finally gave up the ghost (or however many it had) and burned down in mid-2oo2 in a suspected arson attack.
But it would have taken more than a couple of fires to drive the spooks out of Chippewa: if anything, the buildings ground it. Only if they were gone–the ticket booths, the restaurants and the restrooms–could it start to look really haunted. Not by people or monsters, but by the ghosts of amusement rides long-left and forgotten.
It’s a shame that it never got to be quite that way: earlier this year, the site was cleared for redevelopment. Somehow, it feels like a greater loss than the closure of the original park.
There are more pictures–and a lot more detail–on the Defunct Parks site, where these photos were originally posted. And go read Barbara’s story. It’s creepy as hell.