View Full Version : Story of the Ages - Oklahoma's amusement parks



Steve
07-30-2011, 05:01 PM
http://ndepth.newsok.com/thrills-gone-by/?custom_click=lead_story_photo

See if you spot a beloved member of OKC Talk ...

FRISKY
07-30-2011, 05:18 PM
Very nice!

ctchandler
07-30-2011, 06:44 PM
His name wouldn't be "Doug" would it?
C. T.

http://ndepth.newsok.com/thrills-gone-by/?custom_click=lead_story_photo

See if you spot a beloved member of OKC Talk ...

corpsman
07-30-2011, 07:12 PM
In the immortal word of Cartman: Sweeeeeeeeeeet! Thanks, Steve. Great memories revisited.

capt_john_97
07-31-2011, 07:44 AM
That was awesome

RadicalModerate
07-31-2011, 08:39 AM
Beyond awesome. Never once made it to Wedgewood, but spent many hours at Springlake and Frontier City. Remember when one of the main rides at "FRONTIER City" was that aluminum UFO-lookin' flying saucer? Always seemed a bit strange to me juxtaposed with the gunfights in the dusty streets and whatnot. On the other hand, maybe that's where Roddenberry got the line:
"Space . . . The Final FRONTIER."

ctchandler
07-31-2011, 08:45 AM
Do you remember the Frontier City "cable car/gondala" ride that went from the ground to the top of a tower? And the Sunday back in the late fifties when it got stuck somewhere near the top? Hot summer day, people stuck in the air. That was big time excitement in those days. Nobody was hurt, I believe the fire department rescued them. They were scared, a little dehydrated, but that's about it.
C. T.

RadicalModerate
07-31-2011, 09:07 AM
I don't remember The Stuck Gondola Ride Incident . . .
But I do remember that "Ghost Mountain" was one of the scariest things ever (Up until I turned six.)

I also remember all the brou-ha-ha about that Mysterious Enclosed Roller Coaster--"The Nightmare"--that turned out to be nothing more than The Wild Chipmunk or Wild Mouse inside of a huge wooden building. We were at the park one day--before the "new" had worn off of that ride--and the long line zig-zagging between those railings took about an hour to get through. Everyone in line was talking in excited tones about what a thrill awaited us on the other side of the doors that the little carts disappered through.

After riding [THE WILD MOUSE/CHIPMUNK/NIGHTMARE] it occured to me that an even scarier scenario would be that--after waiting in line for an hour--you would climb into the cart . . . the doors would open . . . the cart would go through the doors . . . and then immediately stop: At the end of another line just like the one you just got finished waiting in.

In response to your [WTF???!!!], the attendant would say, "Why do you think we call it The NIghtmare?" (Followed by that sinister "Bwah-Hah-Hah-Hah!" laugh, a clap of thunder and maybe a theremin arpeggio) . . .

Another name for the imaginary ride could be "Haunted Hotel California" but a lot of people might not get that.

MustangGT
07-31-2011, 12:59 PM
Wedgewood was short bike ride form where we lived back then.

rcjunkie
07-31-2011, 02:53 PM
Wedgewood was short bike ride form where we lived back then.

I remember going to Wedgewood when I was 8 or 9, we lived on the far S. side of OKC, back then, it felt like a 4 hour drive to get there.

Tritone
07-31-2011, 03:48 PM
Learned to swim at the Wedgewood pool one summer. Thanks, Wendy.

Larry OKC
07-31-2011, 09:21 PM
Beyond awesome. Never once made it to Wedgewood, but spent many hours at Springlake and Frontier City. Remember when one of the main rides at "FRONTIER City" was that aluminum UFO-lookin' flying saucer? Always seemed a bit strange to me juxtaposed with the gunfights in the dusty streets and whatnot. On the other hand, maybe that's where Roddenberry got the line:
"Space . . . The Final FRONTIER."

They had a picture of it in Sunday's paper and the caption made note of the "not correctly themed" aspect, not sure if it is online...

The link starting the thread has many of the pics that were in the paper and several more that didn't make the printed edition (but didn't see the UFO pic)

RadicalModerate
07-31-2011, 10:43 PM
Larry, Thank You!: I honestly cannot think of a better segue to "Just For Fun" (you know . . . Amusement Parks and History and Whatnot). Sort of like a Trivia Contest =) . . .

Here's The Question (and in No Possible Way does this violate the Theme or The Spirit of The Thread):

What is the closest link between Nicolai Tesla and Oklahoma City?

(No hints . . . But I will tell you that it has nothing to do with Kevin Bacon or anything involving "degrees of separation" or any other social-geometry. =)

okcisok
08-01-2011, 07:01 AM
Frontier City.............my favorite Aunt and Uncle took my brother, myself and our Mom their when they first opened. What a great place for a kid back then. It was such a "cowboy" town. Train rides that got held up by robbers on horseback, wooden buildings with small town looking shops, wooden sidewalks, gunfights in the streets. You could rent a horse and ride by yourself through trails on the west side of the park. I've got pictures somewhere and we actually dressed up to go there. What fun.

Pete
08-01-2011, 09:42 AM
That was all fantastic!

Amazing how many photos and how much video footage they could find for those parks.

Wedgewood was the place I remember best, as I grew up on the other side of NW Expressway. Lots of fond memories!

ctchandler
08-01-2011, 10:46 AM
There was also the go-cart track right out in front of Wedgewood managed and I believe owned by Jerry Biswell. I suspect the land was owned by Maurice Woods. Jerry was a manager at the Woods Corporation when I was there and of course knew all the Woods' family very well. We talked about this a little on another thread.
C. T.

OKCisOK4me
08-01-2011, 03:15 PM
I went to Frontier City yesterday (perfect, cause it was hot and no lines cause no one was there) with my girlfriend and her kids and I had a great time. I think the last time I was there was probably in 1998 when two of my friends worked there. As you grow much older the rides (compared to say a Six Flags) look much lamer and not worthy of a good time, but lemme tell ya, I had a blast! Eruption and Mind Bender--probably the craziest. Rode the Steel Lasso (where you hang below the tracks) at least 8 times with the boys.

So compared to either the last time I was there or when I was a kid, a few things had changed. The ride where it spins and the floor drops out from underneath you has apparently been closed for a couple of years. The Nightmare is no longer in operation either. Also, I thought there would be a petting zoo and I was telling the birthday boy about it but that's gone too.

I also found something that brought back a memory. The Tin Lizzy car ride used to be on the NW side of the park and is now below the big Ferris Wheel. Slightly buried underneath the Lizzy car track was a concrete mine shaft and to the side of that a blue concrete slide. I think they were actually rides, waaaaaaaayyyyyy back in the day..like one was open from the top to the bottom and the other was a tunnel to the point where it popped out. I remember riding in it and I'd get wet and then we'd always run back to the top. Kids would slip and fall all the time. But anyway, when they majorly redid the park...whatever year...they got rid of this ride. Does anyone remember it at all? I'm 33 and I'm guessing I was 12 when it existed, so probably 20+ years ago. No kid that works at FC would have a clue as to the history of the park.

SOONER8693
08-01-2011, 06:50 PM
I worked at FC from '82 thru '89 as a member of the gunfight/stunt crew. We were all members of a group called Colonel Colt's Company, headed by Jim Rollins. Jim was the original marshall at FC when it opened in 1958. We had a great time and were very good at what we did at FC. The show(s) they do now are no where near the same as the shows we did. We had over 80 different shows to pick from. We could go 3 weeks at a time and not do the same show twice. We did however repeat some shows on a regular basis, as some were crowd favorites and that's what they wanted to see. Sometimes the good guys won and sometimes the bad guys won in our shows, just like in the real old west. We originally did shows alternating from Fort street to Mine street. About '86 or so, FC was bought by Premier Parks and they built us a whole new set, behind where the original saloon and Irish Rose's house of fine repute were located. As the management changed over the next few years, they wanted us to do away with the shows where the bad guys won, it was bad for a family oriented park. That was the beginning of the end for Colonel Colt's Company and Jim Rollins at FC. I met my wife there in the summer of '82. She was a singer and dancer in the music hall show and saloon shows. We've now been together 29 years. Most people find that a pretty cool story, when I tell them I was a gunslinger and my wife a saloon girl when we met. Great memories at FC. I haven't been out there in quite a while. I love that place though.

Larry OKC
08-01-2011, 10:04 PM
Great story! Hopefully you have a pic or two of you & your wife in costume from the day...

BDK
08-02-2011, 08:28 PM
I wish we had a period amusement park and gardens still. I suppose there's not really the market for something like those quieter, older parks, unfortunately. Wonderful piece, nonetheless.

RadicalModerate
08-03-2011, 08:54 AM
At the risk of waxing nostalgic . . . (and pushing the geographical envelope of memory expression =)
Whenever I think of Springlake (in OKC) I also think of Elitch Gardens and Lakeside (in Denver).

Both of these were the epitome (epitomes? epitomolistic? of "period amusement parks") . . .
I think Lakeside still is, based on what I have read on the web.
And, having been to Lakeside--many times--I almost feel as if I've been to Wedgewood.

(BTW: Doug L's coverage of Historical OKC--including Springlake--is what drew me to this site in the first place. His coverage of OKC Municipal Government [shennanigans] is one thing that keeps me here.)

corpsman
08-03-2011, 09:18 AM
Got to thinking about Elitch Gardens myself when I saw this. Last time I was there was mid-60's. We were harvesting grain in the valley around Wiggins, had caught up and had some time off. Our boss,RIP, took the crew to Denver and Elitch's. Got to see Sam the Sham And The Pharoahs, of all bands, do a gig there. A good friend went there a week ago with family while on vacation, said they had a great time.
At the risk of waxing nostalgic . . . (and pushing the geographical envelope of memory expression =)
Whenever I think of Springlake (in OKC) I also think of Elitch Gardens and Lakeside (in Denver).

Both of these were the epitome (epitomes? epitomolistic? of "period amusement parks") . . .
I think Lakeside still is, based on what I have read on the web.
And, having been to Lakeside--many times--I almost feel as if I've been to Wedgewood.

(BTW: Doug L's coverage of Historical OKC--including Springlake--is what drew me to this site in the first place. His coverage of OKC Municipal Government [shennanigans] is one thing that keeps me here.)

SOONER8693
08-03-2011, 09:22 AM
Great story! Hopefully you have a pic or two of you & your wife in costume from the day...
You would think we would have, however, we lost our house in the May 3, '99 tornado and lost most all of that kind of stuff. We lived 2 blocks straight south of Westmoore High School. House and everything gone in 25 seconds. I will check with mother-in-law to see what she might have.

RadicalModerate
08-03-2011, 09:40 AM
You would think we would have, however, we lost our house in the May 3, '99 tornado and lost most all of that kind of stuff. We lived 2 blocks straight south of Westmoore High School. House and everything gone in 25 seconds. I will check with mother-in-law to see what she might have.

I can only imagine the sense of loss involved with a set of uncontrollable, weather-based, circumstances like that. Still . . . I do remember how much better the Frontier City Gunfights of the '80s were compared to the ones a couple of decades earlier . . . (Hope you are on good terms with your MIL) . . .

Got to thinking about Elitch Gardens myself when I saw this. Last time I was there was mid-60's. We were harvesting grain in the valley around Wiggins, had caught up and had some time off. Our boss,RIP, took the crew to Denver and Elitch's. Got to see Sam the Sham And The Pharoahs, of all bands, do a gig there. A good friend went there a week ago with family while on vacation, said they had a great time.

So . . . Was the Opening Act for "Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs" maybe . . . "The Astronauts"? . . . "Freddie/Henchie and The SoulSetters"? . . . Perhaps even "Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids"? Maybe "The Moonrakers"? =)

P.S. It was "The Trocadero Ballroom" . . .
I guess they used to have balls there.
In the traditional, common-sense of the word.
So, for sure it wasn't "Spinal Tap" . . . =)

phinzup
08-08-2011, 09:53 PM
Does anyone remember "Black Hawk" Park, in NE OKC?

Jim Kyle
08-09-2011, 07:43 AM
Does anyone remember "Black Hawk" Park, in NE OKC?Sure do! It's where I first encountered miniature golf, back in the late 30s or early 40s. Its pool was also better, IMO, than that at Springlake...

RadicalModerate
08-09-2011, 09:13 AM
I can only remember the swimming pool . . .
(SE of I-35 and 23rd . . . Wasn't there a really old fashioned "roundabout" traffic circle here about that time?)

Doug Loudenback
08-16-2011, 07:51 AM
At the risk of waxing nostalgic . . . (and pushing the geographical envelope of memory expression =)
Whenever I think of Springlake (in OKC) I also think of Elitch Gardens and Lakeside (in Denver).

Both of these were the epitome (epitomes? epitomolistic? of "period amusement parks") . . .
I think Lakeside still is, based on what I have read on the web.
And, having been to Lakeside--many times--I almost feel as if I've been to Wedgewood.

(BTW: Doug L's coverage of Historical OKC--including Springlake--is what drew me to this site in the first place. His coverage of OKC Municipal Government [shennanigans] is one thing that keeps me here.)
That's radical, Radical! Thanks!

MustangGT
08-16-2011, 08:09 AM
I can only remember the swimming pool . . .
(SE of I-35 and 23rd . . . Wasn't there a really old fashioned "roundabout" traffic circle here about that time?)

NE 23 and I-35 used to be a roundabout until it was reconstructed many years ago.

janeyring
05-17-2012, 12:44 PM
I loved Springlake--loved the Fun House. When I was little I loved going to the Fun House and sliding down the wooden slides on gunnysacks. I was so scared the first time going down the slide. When I was an adult I would go to Springlake to listen to entertainers in the outside auditorium. I've heard Springlake is closed now.
Janey Reynolds Ring

BradR
05-17-2012, 02:26 PM
I also found something that brought back a memory. The Tin Lizzy car ride used to be on the NW side of the park and is now below the big Ferris Wheel. Slightly buried underneath the Lizzy car track was a concrete mine shaft and to the side of that a blue concrete slide. I think they were actually rides, waaaaaaaayyyyyy back in the day..like one was open from the top to the bottom and the other was a tunnel to the point where it popped out. I remember riding in it and I'd get wet and then we'd always run back to the top. Kids would slip and fall all the time. But anyway, when they majorly redid the park...whatever year...they got rid of this ride. Does anyone remember it at all? I'm 33 and I'm guessing I was 12 when it existed, so probably 20+ years ago. No kid that works at FC would have a clue as to the history of the park.


If I remember right there were 3 water slides there with the tunnel one being called "shoot the chute". The only thing I really remember about it was an older man who went through it and came out too fast and smashed into the wall at the end and busted his face up pretty badly.

Pete
05-17-2012, 02:39 PM
Here's an ad from 1946.

I also found that the entire property was for sale on 4/29/62, so it must have closed some time before that.

The earliest mention I have found is June, 1938.

http://www.okctalk.com/images/pete/blackhawkpark1.jpg

boscorama
05-17-2012, 07:45 PM
RE: Black Hawk ad, did they call min. golf, Jr Golf, back in the day? "Where Is Is delightfully COOL" (shedding some light on "is" meaning).

Janey, that was the best fun house, loved those slides, intimidating as they seemed. How about those loud air puffs shooting up from the floor, making dresses go up? Not remembering much else from the fun house, though. Help me! The concert place (at Springlake) was a wonder, what with Lassie, The Zombies, Dan Blocker, to name a few. They even had some girl group dressed like The Beatles doing their songs, remember that? Springlake has been closed forever, now.

The Little Dipper was a safe precursor to the Big Dipper. Once I tried the Big one, though, I was hooked and rode it over and over again on $Dollar Days. In fact, it was the only roller coaster I ever tried more than once. Newer ones were too scary for me.

ljbab728
05-17-2012, 09:59 PM
Janey, that was the best fun house, loved those slides, intimidating as they seemed. How about those loud air puffs shooting up from the floor, making dresses go up? Not remembering much else from the fun house, though. Help me!

Bosco, I'm not sure I remember everything there but I do remember a mirror maze that you walked through. I also seem to remember a spinning contraption similar to a roulette wheel that you climbed on and tried to stay on without being thrown off of it. There was also an area that you walked through where the floor slats that your left and right legs were on moved in opposite directions.

Larry OKC
05-18-2012, 11:58 AM
ljbab728: What you just described is about the only thing I remember about Springlake...that and the gunny sack big slide

janeyring
05-20-2012, 02:23 PM
boscorama, forgot about the air puffs. Thanks. The first thing in the fun house were the moving floors. Remember the mirrors that made you look funny? The spinning barrel was scarey. Never saw Lassie, The Zombies, Dan Blocker at the outdoor concert. Didn't know there was a Little Dipper. It took me a long time to get enough nerve to get on the Big Dipper. I think the scenerary in Springlake was beautiful, especially around the outside concert area. What is in that beautiful area now?? I've been living in Alaska for 30 years and don't get back that often. When I do I forget to go back to the 'special' old places. Thanks for the memories, bosco.
Janey Reynolds Ring

ljbab728
05-20-2012, 09:50 PM
boscorama, forgot about the air puffs. Thanks. The first thing in the fun house were the moving floors. Remember the mirrors that made you look funny? The spinning barrel was scarey. Never saw Lassie, The Zombies, Dan Blocker at the outdoor concert. Didn't know there was a Little Dipper. It took me a long time to get enough nerve to get on the Big Dipper. I think the scenerary in Springlake was beautiful, especially around the outside concert area. What is in that beautiful area now?? I've been living in Alaska for 30 years and don't get back that often. When I do I forget to go back to the 'special' old places. Thanks for the memories, bosco.
Janey Reynolds Ring

Janey, this is located there now. This also has a little history about the park.



http://www.metrotech.org/campuses/sl-history/history.html