|CREDIT: First, let's
give credit where it is due. With
the help of the great librarians at the Fenton History Center, I
able to gather a number of copies of articles from The Post-Journal,
Jamestown's newspaper. One series of articles was based on the
work of Victor Norton, Sr. and Martin Arend. An in-depth
article about ferris wheels and Celoron's Phoenix Wheel was the work of
Sherman L. Watson, MD. Thank you to all who helped with those
articles so that the information could be presented here.
It should be noted that the park was located in Brr-rr country. Fall could be pretty brisk, and Spring could be cold and wet, and don't even mention Winter! The park was generally open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and most of the following notations came from press releases for upcoming park seasons.
Check out 1976 for a first-hand account of the Skateland fire!
Use your browser's Back button to return to the Celoron Home page.
||Land for the park was
purchased. The area was known as Prendergast Point, but the new owner
changed the name to Celoron, after the French explorer.
The Hotel De Celoron was begun the following year, preceding the park by one year. It was located on the east side of Dunham Avenue, near the lake.
|1893||Celoron Park was begun by the
Celoron Park Amusement Company owner Almet N. Broadhead, to operate in
conjunction with Broadhead’s railway system and his Chautauqua
Steamship Company. Among the
construction of that year: an outdoor
theater that was built over Chautauqua Lake.
||Columbia was the name given to the double decker rail car
built by the Pullman Car Co., in honor of the Columbian Exposition of
that year. She arrived for service in May.
||The floor was completed for
the original Dance Hall at the eastern part of the park.
||Celoron Park became a full-blown amusement park, modeled after Coney Island|
was built, as
were the Baseball Field and its grandstands.
||18||The Phoenix Wheel began service for the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, GA|
|1895||Dec||31||The Phoenix Wheel completed
service for the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta,
GA. Manufactured in Phoenixville, PA.
|1896||The indoor Celoron Theater was erected over Lake Chautauqua, on the site of the old outdoor theater, at a cost of $36,000|
dismantled and moved to Celoron Park. The wheel weighed 53 tons
|1900||The Imperial Hotel was built
by its owner, Charles Johnson.
It was located on the NE corner of Dunham Avenue and Boulevard.
|1903||Feb||4||The Bear Pit has been filling
with water, endangering its occupant
|1905||The Scenic Railway opened at
Celoron Park, on the site of the Loop the Loop, and the Circle Swing
|1905||Jun||6||The Steamboat Dock has been removed and replaced with a dock 150 feet long, with a 32 foot ell.|
|1905||Jul||4||The Elevated Bridge to the
Searchlight Tower had one section collapse due to an overload of people
trying to escape rain. They still got wet, falling eight feet
into a foot of water.
|1907||Celoron Park will renew its
lease of the grounds for another twenty years, OR,
|1907||Jul||16||The Celoron Park grounds were purchased by the Celoron Amusement Company|
|1908||Apr||15||The Scenic Railway will be replaced by the Coney Island Tickler ride|
|1908||May||13||Hotel De Celoron and the Imperial Hotel were placed under unified management of John Penfold|
|1910||Mar||9||The Steamboat Pier was in
danger due to high water level of Lake Chautauqua--a recurring theme
|1910||Apr||24||The Steamboat Pier was destroyed by high winds and a high lake level that left only its piers. The Steamboat Ticket Office floated away from the Steamboat Pier and was found downstream.|
|1912||May||Tom, the Bear was relocated
from Celoron to Yardley, PA. The remaining Zoo animals have been
sold off and removed from the park.
|1913||Celoron Park was heavily
damaged in Spring by water and ice, and suffered a streetcar strike, so
operations in 1913 were minimal. The park did not open until July
20. Coincidentally, 1913 was the
year Harry A. Illions joined the family business, M.C. Illions &
Sons, at Coney Island.
|1913||Mar||29||Celoron is cut off from
streetcar service with Jamestown, due to unusually high water
levels. The lines would later be raised, in answer to the
that made them too high to accommodate the Columbia, so it
was removed from service. The Richmond Hotel had eight inches of
water on the first floor, and the Theater was flooded to the beginning
of the reserved seat section.
|1914||May||The Outdoor Theater in the center of the park had its stage raised three feet|
|1914||Nov||21||Hotel De Celoron and the
Hotel were destroyed by fire
for rebuilding to two stories after a fire two months previous
destroyed all but the first floor.
Toward the end of its life, it was known as the Yellow Submarine. Yup. It was destroyed by fire. Click on the link to see a scan of a photocopy of a photo from the Post-Journal (not dated in my notes). I suspect it is from the late 1930s or early 1940s, judging by the cars. I don't see evidence of Skateland, which I thought was just across Dunham from the hotel, so that would place the photo before 1939. In my recollection, the park entrance was further left, at the end of Boulevard.
This photo shows plainly where the Hotel De Celoron was located, just right of the hotel. The Phoenix Wheel would have been to the far right bottom of this view, out of this photo.
|1915||May||7||The Coney Island Tickler ride
removed, as was the Monkey House.
|1915||Aug||5||The outfield of the Baseball Park is under water due to “unprecedented August high water”|
|1918||Mar||17||Celoron Park has been leased for five years from the Celoron Amusement Company by the Coney Island Realty & Amusement Company|
|1919||Jul||4||Celoron Park was visited by record-breaking crowds of about 20,000 for the day.|
|1920||Apr||12||The Moorish-style Auditorium was totally destroyed by fire|
|1923||May||24||The Cave of the Winds is a new feature at the park, located near the Phoenix Wheel|
under construction along the shore of Chautauqua Lake, and the Theater
is being transformed in the Pier Ballroom
|1924||Jun||13||The old Dance Hall at the eastern end of the grounds was destroyed by a suspicious fire. It would not be rebuilt, since the theater is now a ballroom|
|1925||May||23||The Bear Pit will once again
bears: 2 large brown bears
The Custer Car Speedway is a ride with cars controlled by the children riding in them
The Electric Railway is a new ride for children, travelling 2000 feet through the picnic grove at the lower end of the park
The Greyhound Roller Coaster will be lit with 6,000 bulbs along the side facing the lake
Airplane Swings are a new ride attraction for the 1925 season, located on an island near the bathing beach
|1925||May||31||Celoron Park was host to some
25,000 patrons on Memorial Day, breaking the old attendance record by
|1930||Celoron Park was purchased by
George and Thomas Carr, including 2500 feet of lakefront and 20 acres
|1930||Jun||13||The Pier Ballroom in the
former theater was destroyed by
fire (started by a cigarette butt?) at 12:45 PM. It
was a total loss within an hour, and the fire also consumed seven
concession stands to its east side. The summer season is short,
so a contract is soon let to build a new ballroom.
|1930||Jul||3||Castle Gardens Ballroom construction began, expected to be completed in just 21 days, working 24 hours a day!|
|1933||May||26||The Dodgem bumper car ride is
for the 1933 season, but the Figure Eight Coaster has been dismantled,
and the Leaping Lena attraction has been shipped to another park.
According to the article, the Monkey Island will house "a bevy of
On the site of the Figure Eight Coaster will be a parking lot (hmmm, that became a theme, too)
|1934||May||26||A Beer Garden has been
established in the center of the park, selling beer at stands on the
grounds for the first time in park history. Beer will be sold at
Castle Gardens, too.
|1937||The Celoron-Fluvanna Ferry was
operation during 1937, but I haven't learned what years it operated.
|1938||Celoron Park was purchased by J.G. Campbell|
|1939||The Baseball Field was used
the last season. Among the noted ballplayers to visit the park
were Babe Ruth, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Connie Mack managed a
team that played there. During batting practice, The Babe
launched one into the lake!
is projected to
open, constructed in the parking lot. It
is of a new type of construction, bow truss, to eliminate
pillars. In MY memory, the skating rink was at the eastern edge
of the park; in earlier years, the park extended the equivalent
of a couple of blocks eastward, into what is now Lucille Ball Park.
|1943||Celoron Park was purchased for about $200,000 by Harry A. Illions, from the Jamestown Motor Bus Transportation Company president J.G. Campbell|
|1943||Three (!) Ferris Wheels from the 1940 New York World’s Fair were installed 1943-45|
|1943||The years 1943 and 1944 saw
The Merry Go Round, the Rodeo Ride, and the 1942 model Skooter Cars were installed.
|1945||The Caterpillar Ride and the
Crystal Maze were added.
|1945||Apr||2||The Steamer Dock was again
away, floating down the Outlet. In this
version, the dock was about ten feet wide and nearly 700 feet
long; The earlier dock was twenty feet wide, to accommodate
trolley tracks right out to the steamship.
|1949||The Phoenix Wheel was taken
in Celoron because it had been frequently struck by lightning.
The metal structure had gondolas that held twenty people each!
The structure was built by the Phoenix Metal Co., in Phoenixville, PA.
|1952||Feb||28||The Phoenix Wheel was
be taken down for overhauling. It stands
about 115 feet high. By summer, the announcment was made that the
wheel was dismantled and shipped to the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds
in Pomona. Mr. Illions ran the concessions there, too.
|1952||Jun||19||By summer, the announcment was made that the wheel was dismantled and shipped to the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. Mr. Illions was well-known as a concessionaire across the country. The Merry Go Round was also being reassembled in Pomona, CA.|
|1958||Aug||18||Celoron Park was closed early
public, and workmen began dismantling the remaining “amusement devices”
at the park. The older amusements were sold off, but Mr. Illions
had plans to refurbish his park.
|1959||May||16||The "new" Celoron Park got
some new attractions: The Flying Saucer Ride, the Helicopter
Ride, and the Magic Carpet Fun House with its mirrored walls and wavy
floors. I remember a Ghost Alley attraction, too, but found no
mention of it.
Scared the bejeebers out of us kids!
|1959||Jun||11||Greyhound Roller Coaster was
heavily damaged by a tornado. The Imperial Hotel lost its
second-floor porch, too.
|1960||Sep||9||Celoron Park was put up for
sale by its owner, Harry A. Illions, who had owned the park since
1943. He advertised ten major rides, seven kiddie rides, and a
penny arcade, along with many amusement park devices.
|1962||May||14||Harry A. Illions died suddenly at his home in Jamestown|
|1962||Jun||1||The "new" Pier Ballroom,
formerly Castle Gardens, burned to the
ground, the result of a fire of undetermined origin.
|1962||Jul||25||Celoron Park has been sold by
the heirs of Harry A. Illions. The purchaser, Darrell Smith,
owned a park near Pittsburgh, called Cabana Beach.
|1962||Sep||11||Celoron Park was being dismantled by workmen, who were taking down fourteen buildings and two picnic shelters|
and Diane Evan become owners of Skateland roller rink.
|1965||Mar||22||The board of the Village of Celoron authorized the purchase of the Celoron Picnic Grove: seven acres for $30,000|
Park's last "park"
Evan’s Skateland burned to the
ground during a Halloween party for kids. Accounts ranged up to
300 participants, but no serious injuries, thanks to quick action by
the Evan family members to evacuate the children.
"On October 31, 1976, I was a 17-year-old who was in the roller rink fire. It was a Halloween party and many people had on costumes and were skating when all of a sudden there was a loud explosion by the entrance. Everyone was scared and we were told to move to the opposite end of the rink. Suddenly, the entire ceiling was on fire and it appeared that there was no way out. There were doors along the side of the building...someone got one of the doors opened, I never knew who, I assumed one of the Evans had a key in their pocket. Everyone started jumping out the door, which was about a three-foot drop, wearing roller skates. A few cars started on fire and some people were so frightened that they started to climb the cyclone fence in their skates....the Yellow Submarine was across the street where we went to contact somone to pick us up. It was quite an experience, one I hope not to go through again." --Ron Nelson
and Diane Evan open the new Evan's Skateland in Jamestown
|1981||May||28||The Phoenix Wheel ceased
in California, dismantled and sold for scrap when it was deemed unsafe.
|1988||Sep||28||The Lakeview Hotel burned to
ground. This was the last of the Celoron Park era buildings,
according to the Post-Journal account of the fire. At the time of
its demise, it was a three-story wood structure. My sharp-eyed
friend Brian pointed out that the Lakeview was located at 33 Allegheny
|1991||Pier Point Park will be
renovated and renamed for Lucille Ball. Could you have gotten
this far into these pages and not have known that Lucille Ball ("I Love
Lucy") lived within sight of the park? She also lived in
Jamestown, the town of her birth, before leaving for a fantastic
career. You could say "Lucy" to people around the world, and they
knew who you meant!
|1993||According to Edison LeRoy, the
Los Angeles County Fairgrounds
was torn down.
Evan, Jr. died at the age of 81 on November 6.