The city I grew up in had been an economic powerhouse in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Paper mills and textile factories, powered by a hydroelectric dam and a big coal powerplant made the city thrive. We got schools, parks, a library, a neogothic city hall, a streetcar system, everything an industrial city on the grow could ask for. It also got an amusement park, Mountain Park, built at the base of Mt Tom, little more than a hill once the glaciers of the last ice age did their work.
By the time I was born, the factories were closing or closed. Labor was cheaper elsewhere. The mills burned down (Was it arson for insurance money? Maybe. No one ever bothered to investigate, so I assume it was.), downtown got killed by a mall out near the freeway that skirted the edge of the city, making it easy for folks from better neighborhoods to do their shopping without having to confront the curdling edges of the American empire. And Mountain Park started to fall into disrepair. The place closed, for good, in 1987 and eventually, you guessed it, burned to the ground in 1994.
I had some good times there when I was a kid, but by god was it a ridiculously cruddy amusement park. It had a decent wooden roller coaster, a mini-golf course I became a pro at, and a lot of blown cement monstrosities that passed for fun houses.
Does this sound familiar? I bet it does. Tell us about the disreputable, the decrepit, the downright weird amusement parks, fun fairs, and roadside attractions from your lives. Let’s take one last bone rattling ride on the Mountain Wildcat, shall we?