Sandy Lake Amusement Park -- Russells Point, OH
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member DougK
N 40° 28.383 W 083° 53.691
17T E 254593 N 4484289
Quick Description: Sandy Point Amusement Park was known as "Ohio's Million Dollar Playground" and operated from 1924 through 1975. Today is is part of Indian Lake State Park.
Location: Ohio, United States
Date Posted: 11/1/2011 9:43:53 AM
Waymark Code: WMD07P
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Thorny1
Views: 6

Long Description:
Indian Lake was built between 1850 and 1857 as a feeder lake for the Miami and Erie Canal. It was known as Lewistown Reservoir until 1896, when the lake was purchased by the state of Ohio for a state park.

Historian Bud Grandi shares his memories and pictures of Sandy Beach at the Indian Lake History webpage.

A web page from the Ohio Historical Society-Library gives a detailed story:

A resident of the Indian Lake community of Russells Point, Pappy Wilgus, capitalized on the region's popularity and built the Sandy Lake Amusement Park. The park opened to the public on May 29, 1924.

Within a short period of time, Sandy Beach Amusement Park had become known as "Ohio's Million Dollar Playground" and the "Atlantic City of the West." Famous musicians played at the Minnewawa Dance Hall, while the park also offered a number of rides, a penny arcade, and other types of entertainment. Visitors could also walk along a boardwalk to Sandy Beach Island for swimming. Even when the Great Depression devastated the United States economy, Sandy Beach was still a great success. The Minnewawa Dance Hall was a significant part of that success, as it hosted many dance marathons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

A fire that destroyed the Dance Hall and parts of a number of rides could have meant the end for the Sandy Beach Amusement Park, but officials rebuilt the park. The Moonlight Terrace Gardens replaced the Minnewawa Dance Hall and continued to draw large crowds until the 1950s.

The amusement park entered a new phase in 1949, when the Ohio state legislature created the Ohio State Park system. Indian Lake became one of the first state parks. The new state park and Sandy Beach Amusement Park were able to support each other's efforts by drawing visitors to the region. When Ohio celebrated its sesquicentennial in 1953, approximately 100,000 people traveled to the area. The 1950s were a time of great prosperity for the amusement park and local businesses that thrived on tourism.

Unfortunately, Sandy Beach's success was challenged in the 1960s. One of the most successful weeks each year was the first week of July, when Ohioans traveled to the region on vacation. On July 4, 1961, a riot broke out nearby. Every year thereafter, riots continued to erupt during the holiday weekend. These riots caused significant financial damage but, more importantly, hurt the amusement park's reputation. Sandy Beach Amusement Park was renamed the Indian Lake Playground in 1967, but the change of name did not improve the park's fortunes. In addition, Sandy Beach had to compete with larger amusement parks like Cedar Point during this era. Attendance figures dropped significantly throughout the decade and eventually led to the park's closure in the 1970s.

Today, a historical marker commemorates the site of the Sandy Beach Amusement Park. Despite the park's closure, Indian Lake State Park continues to draw large numbers of Ohioans each year.

The Ohio State historic marker at the site reads as follows:


SANDY BEACH
AMUSEMENT PARK

Nicknamed "Ohio's Million Dollar Playground" or "Atlantic City of the Midwest," Sandy Beach Amusement Park opened here on May 29, 1924. The park at Indian Lake featured a 2,000-foot long roller coaster and other popular rides, a boardwalk, and the Minnewawa Dance Hall. The Minnewawa and its succeeding dance pavilions hosted the greatest names of the Big Band era, and thousands of people came from all over Ohio to listen and dance to these popular entertainers. Societal turmoil and rioting in the 1960s affected the popularity of the park. Diminishing crowds, plus competition from larger theme parks such as Cedar Point and Kings Island, led to the park closing in the early 1970s. The lone remnant of the park is the steel arch bridge that spans the harbor.

The Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company
Logan Country Historical Society
The Ohio Historical Society
2003


Coordinates given are near the west end of the steel arch bridge which remains.

Date Park Opened: 5/29/1924

Date Park Closed: 1/1/1976

Address:
Indian Lake State Park
Russells Point, Ohio USA
43348


Current Use or Function:
State Park, Recreation Area


Is the park still there?: No

If not, what is in its place now?:
Indian Lake State Park, A steel arch bridge remains from the park


Visit Instructions:
You must post at least one original picture at the posted coords to post a visit log for this waymark. Extra points if you are in the spirit of the park (i.e., in costume, etc.).
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