EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
BUCKEYE LAKE — Buckeye Lake State Park is one of several Ohio state parks that include an early-20th century amusement park in their history. In the 1910s, Buckeye Lake was touted as “Ohio’s Inland Seashore” and the “Atlantic City of the Middle West.”
By this time, it had a skating rink, arcades, amusement park rides on its north shore, and several hotels and restaurants.
The Great Depression in 1929 had a great effect on the Buckeye Lake region. The rail line to the lake went out of business, making cheap transportation unavailable to the park.
Many families who had lake cottages at Buckeye Lake gave up their homes in the city and permanently moved into their summer homes.
The amusement park continued to operate during this era, constantly adding attractions that would attract more visitors. Promoted as offering “every amusement consistent with good morals and behavior,” Buckeye Lake Amusement Park featured the “Dips” roller coaster, a 20,000 square foot swimming pool, the “Skateland” roller-skating rink, and many other attractions.
The Crystal Ballroom and Lake Breeze Pier Ballroom at Buckeye Lake hosted many big bands and musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Guy Lombardo, and Tommy Dorsey, with his singer Frank Sinatra. During its heyday in the 1940s, the park entertained thousands of visitors a day.
In 1949, the Buckeye Lake area officially became a state park. The park office was initially located at the hub of activity within the amusement park. However, ownership and operation of the amusement park rides and attractions remained in the hands of private companies and individuals.
By the end of the 1950s, Buckeye Lake Amusement Park was in decline and continued to deteriorate in the 1960s. After more than sixty years, the crowds that once flocked to the park disappeared, and buildings were torn down.
Today, the amusement park’s final remnant is the fountain that originally served as the centerpiece of the midway. The fountain was restored in the mid-1980s and preserved at Buckeye Lake State Park’s North Shore facility, which offers a boat launch ramp and picnic shelters.
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