Ohio Forgotten

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Chippewa Lake 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.

In the past, people would plan trips to visit the park and in past years, tours were even offered allowing you to go inside the park and take pictures. But currently, the land stands bare and overgrown, as plans to build a resort and hotel fell through.

After driving down Main Drive in Chippewa Lake Ohio, the road dead ends to the old entrance gate.

The Big Dipper

Photo from the Internet Archive, by bill bouslaugh.

“My most vivid memory was the click, click of the roller coaster as it slowly ascended to the top of the first hill, having come out of the dark weaving tunnel where, if you were quick and lucky, you could steal a kiss from your girl!” –Chad Grub

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.

Ferris Wheel

“The Ferris wheel turning at night with its white lights that we could see from our beach, way down the lake.” –Jean

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!”

Photo used with permission from Jalebe.

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

“Every ride had its own unique sound the ‘Bug’, the ‘Train’ with it’s whistle, and many others all joined in to say, ‘Come to Chippewa Lake Park for fun and play’.” –Chad Grub

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, such as “The Turtle” at Kennywood, 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 is 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.

Stand A – “The Hamburger Factory”

Quote wanted! Contact me at ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

The burger 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.

Ticket Booths

Photo from the Internet Archive, by bill bouslaugh.

Quote wanted! Contact me at ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

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 70’s the park was fenced in and this current ticket booth was installed.

Hotel Chippewa

Quote wanted! Contact me at ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

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

Quote wanted! Contact me at ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

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 Sunday’s and food was served alongside the dance floor. There were car shows, dances, concerts, battles of the band, and 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 Chippewa




Credits

First of all I would like to thank the people who own the park now for letting people come inside and take picture tours, second this page wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful people at the Chippewa Lake Park Yahoo! Group.

I would also Chad for putting together that great Chippewa Lake Park documentary that you see above, and for Chad Grub for providing me with some quotes. There are many people on Flickr who allowed me to use their pictures, so thank you to them!

Most of the pictures are copyright me, and they can be found on Flickr under a creative commons license, if you would like to use them. Other pictures have credits under them, some pictures I couldn’t find an owner, so they were left unmarked.

I had so many source that I used for info and pics that I might have forgotten a few, if you notice someone or something I forgot, please contact me at ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

Come back soon! We’re open everyday! There just isn’t anymore dancing!

This page is never going to be finished, there is a lot happening with the park, first some big resort is coming then they run out of money, so who knows what’s next.

Even if the park is gone, there are still all of the memories that people have and the Chippewa Lake Park Yahoo! Group would both be great places to share them. You can e-mail your memories to ohioforgot@yahoo.com.

Sources and Related Links

31 Comments

  1. DERREK

    I wouldn’t try it. Not worth the hassle.

  2. Laura

    Do NOT attempt to access this property!!! We were there yesterday with our daughter to take pictures. When we came out we were met with 4 Medina County Sheriffs. We we told that the owner of the property is no longer giving warnings. All of those caught will be taken into custody and charged with criminal trespassing. Very scary experience for us!

    • DERREK

      I was fishing on the other side of the lake and a guy told me that he tried and the sheriff told him that he could give him a fine for every No trespassing sign that he passed along the way.

    • DeLaney

      Thanks! A friend and I visited last fall and didn’t have any trouble. I was wanting to go back and take some more photos but I probably won’t after reading this.

  3. Mike

    Here is a video done in March 2016 from the air of the park. Not much left…

  4. Paul Causman

    Thanks so much for this site! I ran the Ferris Wheel the summer of 1974 and the paddle boat in 1975. I have so many wonderful memories of the park and my friends who worked there with me. This site brought it all back!

    • Hal Wilson, Jr.

      Did you work for a man named Hal Wilson?

    • Hal Wilson, Jr.

      Hello,
      That was my Dad’s Ferris Wheel. My Dad’s name was Hal Wilson from Chattanooga, TN.
      I would like to hear back from you. A lot of people think they made the wheel faster. They did not.
      My Dad made in that way in the early 40’s when he built it.

      I’m Hal Wilson, Jr. I will be 70 next month.

  5. janicey

    I would like to know about “Jungle Larry” to find out to any thing about him. My family would visit at least 2 times a year and we lived in WV. I have such memories of all the fun things there. I bought TV the “Cat’s meow” set for my home ed and have told my husband so much about the fun there !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *

    • Linda Wilson

      I knew Jungle Larry was at Cedar Point, but didn’t know about Chippewa Lake. Here’s some info about it. I wish I’d gotten to go there, but my parents barely tolerated Cedar Point, I think only 3 times when I was growing up. I reversed that trend when I had my own kids. We visited Cedar Point multiple times, as well as King’s Island, and Geauga Lake. So sad that Cedar Point is the monopoly now. http://www.junglelarry.com/early-parks.html

  6. DJ

    I remember the park well. I took a date there for an Octoberfest thing, I think *after* the official closing of the park??

    My aunt owned a little restaurant about a mile or so north of the park, called The Pantry, on Co Rd 19 (Lake Rd) at the NW corner of Briarwood Blvd. I think The Pantry outlasted the park by only a couple of years. Bldg still stands, but hasn’t been a restaurant for several decades.

    • Derrek

      We are keeping the memory of Chippewa Lake alive here. One day someone will reopen it. I miss the flintstones too !!!

  7. popin fresh

    wish I couldve been there

  8. I loved Chippewa Park as a teenager!! WHLO appreciation days and my Mom’s work annual picnic were held there. So many happy memories!!!

    • Derrek

      You know peggy, If we really wanted to we could RESURRECT Chippewa lake and make it better than it was before. It would have to include a water park ( like Kalihari ) for kids today.There is enough people with fond memories to rebuilt it. There were other parks like Summit Beach in Akron,Euclid Beach in Cleveland and Brady Lake in portage county that has fond memories for a lot of people as well. Remember the Jingle : ” 7 Days a week and even after dark just for fun lets let go to Chippewa !!!!! “

  9. Olive

    Wow! I really wish I could’ve went and saw this when they were giving tours. I bet it was really neat. Old, abandoned buildings are the best. So many stories and memories. Thanks for all the cool pictures! (:

  10. T.j.

    Dose anybody know hew owns the park and how I could contact them

  11. B. Shilling

    Thank you for the site & archival pictures. Our family rode the rides as kids. My summers at the park were in 77 and 78, when the DeGeronimos owned it & no money was put into it. I always wished I’d taken photographs. The hotel and the view were astonishing. I have such vivid memories of the park’s setting and beauty. The large buildings had the grace of another era. I wish I had not viewed the pictures of it in ruins.

  12. DC

    ” Seven Days a week and even after Dark just for fun let’s go to Chippewa!!!!” Famous advertising radio slogan for chippewa lake.
    WHLO radio famous pingpong air drop all over chippewa lake from an airplanewith a number on each
    ball that you would turn in an get the prize attached to the number on the ball. It was crazy !!! People would go nuts for this !!!!

  13. stephen wittmer

    is there anyway that my paranormal team from akron could exployer this site http://www.ohioparanormalseekers.org

  14. rachel

    I went to visit 2 years ago. Amazing place. Are the owners still letting people come in and take pictures. Is it even still there?

  15. Samantha Michel

    So what your saying is that none of the roller coasters are left standing? I am interested in going and looking at the grounds, any information would be appreciated! I was also wondering if any hauntings have been reported there?

  16. Carolyn

    I was just there last Friday, March 18, 2011 and Andrew is correct. The following are still there:

    I think that the Ticket Booths, Tumble Bug, and the Ferris Wheel are the only thinks left standing.

    I have current pictures of the gates, ferris wheel and ticket booths if you are interested in using for your site.

  17. Gabe

    This park was demolished about a month ago. Just fyi guys.

  18. Leslie Molignoni

    I was wondering if you allow anyone to come in for photos? I really want my engagement photos here. Please get back to me at your convience. Thank you

    • We don’t own the land and have no pull with getting people in. 95% of the structures in the above pictures have been demolished: The Coaster, the Bathhouse, and I think Stand A (Hamburger Factory). I think that the Ticket Booths, Tumble Bug, and the Ferris Wheel are the only thinks left standing. You can try to contact the owners at info@chippewalandingohio.com.

  19. Kitty Falls Slover

    My time at Chippewa was about 1937 thru 1952. It was the best time of my life and I still remember so many names of summer friends. We owned the cottage right next to the bathhouse. My brother Jerry worked at my grandmother’s Penny Arcade. After high school I worked as a waitress in the “dinning room”. Names I remember are Ronnie Hall, Spanky Deemer (sp?) Marlene at the Putt Putt Boats, I remember my dad putting me on his shoulder to see Tommy Dorsey band…And there were all the characters who worked the rides and games. Then then our partying at the Bucket O’ Blood after the park closed at night. I am Kitty Falls, now Slover, living in Ft. Worth, Tx. Wonderful memories.

  20. This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this site on Chippewa Lake Park. Good job!
    My summers at Chip were from 1955 (age 10) until after I graduated from High School.
    I learned a lot growing up and working in this little park. 😀
    Thanks for putting all this together.
    bill (in Washington, DC)

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