Why A Museum?
Recent PA amusement park razing echoes painful loss of Hunt’s Pier
By Rob Ascough, Treasurer
As I compose this after dinner on January 4th, one of the corners of the internet I frequent is ablaze over news of the Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park having caught fire. Even if you’re one of the few readers of this newsletter familiar with an old amusement park in northwest Pennsylvania, you’re probably wondering how it connects to the Wildwoods. For that bit of information, I won’t keep you waiting: There is no direct link. Yet still, there is something to be appreciated about this if you are a supporter of a history-minded organization like the Wildwood Historical Society.
The CliffsNotes version of the story: Conneaut Lake Park, dating back to 1892, spent much of the last three decades as an unlikely survivor, having endured crushing debt, various fires destroying historic buildings, and increased competition from other area amusement parks. It was the determination of the park’s supporters that kept it alive under the oversight of a non-profit that resulted in volunteers rehabilitating the property and its classic rides like the carousel, Devil’s Den, and iconic Blue Streak.
Finally having paid down back taxes owed and looking better than it had in years, the future for Conneaut Lake Park was looking up when new ownership took control early in 2021. Initially providing further optimism, fans and followers of the park grew skeptical when old rides were unceremoniously scrapped and ownership refused to comment on the future of the remainder of the amusements. Rumors of the Blue Streak’s demise circulated for months, and tonight’s news of the wooden structure having caught fire surprised no one. The roller coaster was in the process of being demolished and a “controlled burn” of the wood debris claimed much of what was still standing at the time. Burned along with the Blue Streak were 120 years of history and the selfless efforts of countless people who believed it deserved to be preserved.
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