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Saturday, June 30, 2012

West Virginia Amusement Parks

Camden Park Rides

There are currently only two amusement parks in West Virginia: Camden Park in Huntington and Valley Worlds of Fun in Fairmont. Camden Park has been around for 100 years and offers over 30 rides, including their newest adventure experience, the Rockin' Tug. Valley Worlds of Fun is relatively newer and smaller with attractions such as 24 Bowling Lanes, Lasertag, Arcade, Tea Cups, Bumper Cars, Inflatable Soft Play, Bumper Boats, 18 Hole Mini Golf, Climbing wall, and The Valley Free Fall. Both offer family fun for kids of all ages, but neither can compare to the size and grandeur of Rock Springs Park in its heyday.

100 years ago there were nine amusement parks across the state, from the point of the northern panhandle to the bend at Huntington. Most of these, like Rock Springs Park, were sites which first attracted Native Americans as hunting grounds. In the case of Camden Park, the Adena people built a flat-topped conical burial mound near the mouth of Twelvepole Creek, on the floodplain above the Ohio River on what is today park property. As white settlers moved west, these sacred sites became picnic groves for school functions and church outings. Soon pavilions were erected for dining, dancing and prize fights. With the introduction of electricity, trolley companies began purchasing these well-known retreats and built amusement parks at the end of their lines to attract riders on weekends. Most of the parks operating at the turn of the last century were trolley parks such as these, including our beloved Rock Springs. Two of West Virginia's early parks were Luna Parks, a name shared by dozens of others, from the Coney Island original, to the over 40 in the United States and on every continent except Antarctica starting back in 1903. The Luna Parks and most of the early trolley parks in West Virginia were destroyed by fire or closed due to the Great Depression and the public's changing taste in amusements and transportation. By 1930 only Camden and Rock Springs were still in operation. Rock Springs closed in 1970 and was removed in 1974 due to the state’s plan to widen Route 30 for a cloverleaf approach to a new bridge across the Ohio River. Camden, as mentioned above, is still providing fun and thrills for visitors and residents of the Huntington Area. Rock Springs only lives on the minds of those who knew her and a new generation interested in West Virginia history.

According to the National Amusement Park Historical Association there were nine parks in West Virginia at one time:

Camden Park – Huntington, W.VA – (1902 – Present) MAP
Glenwood Park – Charleston, W VA - (Nothing Known)
Luna Park – Charleston, W.VA – (1912-1923) [Fire destroyed park]
Mozart Park – Wheeling, W VA – (1893-1917)
Oak Park - Masontown / Morgantown - W. VA - (1908 - 1930) [Decline for coal industry & Great Depression killed park]
Rock Springs Park – Chester, W. VA – (1897-1970) [state had plans park to widen Route 30]
Terrapin Park – Parkersburg, W. VA – (1900 - 1917) [Park burned in an arson fire - Sept 1917]
West Virginia State Fairgrounds – Wheeling, W. VA - (Nothing Known)
Wheeling Park – W. VA – (1906 - 1918?) [Public's changing taste in amusements]


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