Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time to visit one of Ohio’s many tourist destinations, Cedar Point! Located on Lake Erie in Sandusky, this is the state’s oldest amusement park and the second oldest in the country. It features roller coasters, thrill rides, water rides, activities for families and children, and even a beach if you want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the park itself.
Cedar Point opened nearly 150 years ago and portions of its long history in Ohio are documented through the photograph and newspaper collections available on Ohio Memory and Chronicling America. In 1870, it became a popular summer vacation destination for middle class Americans when Louis Zistel, a German immigrant, began to ferry locals to the peninsula which then featured a bathhouse, beer garden and dance floor. Over the next two decades, Benjamin F. Dwelle and Captain William Slackford developed more land, adding additional bathhouses and boardwalks as well as a baseball diamond and a Grand Pavilion which featured a two-story theater and concert hall with a bowling alley. In 1892, the park’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, opened.
George A. Boeckling took over the park starting in 1897 after it was purchased by the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. Improvements were made to attract visitors: hotels were built, a second roller coaster opened in 1902 and entertainment venues were added. It was under Boeckling’s management that the park became nationally recognized as both an amusement park and tourist destination. According to the Perrysburg Journal, “The remarkable and sustained growth of Cedar Point has marked an epoch in the history of American summer resorts. Cedar Point to-day is the largest and most popular summer resort in the world under one management, a fact proven from the records, which show that this great resort was visited last season by more than a million pleasure-rest-health seeking people from all quarters” (June 7, 1907, p. 1). The Celina Democrat praised the park’s “modern hotels and restaurants” (June 9, 1911, p. 8).
Cedar Point was also used as a convention site for “commercial, political, fraternal, social and other associations” (Marion Daily Mirror, July 7, 1910, p. 2). In 1910, the park hosted the Exclusive Distributors’ Association of America, the American Association of Opticians and the National Hay Association, to name a few. The park has even served as a site for political conventions. Over the years, attractions have been added and changed, encouraging repeat visitors, whether they are young, old, at work, on vacation, seeking thrills or simply looking to relax away from home. If you don’t have time to visit the park yourself before it closes for the season on Labor Day Weekend, be sure to visit Ohio Memory and Chronicling America to see more historic photos and newspaper articles about Cedar Point!
Thanks to Jenni Salamon, Ohio Digital Newspaper Program Coordinator, for this week’s post!