01. Driving on High Street, no one would even notice that there used to be a thriving park here.

02. This bridge sits at the back of the property. Compare it with the one on the website below!

03. This fence borders the apartment property along the back, and appears to be from the same time period as the park.

04. On the Big Bear side, this arrow points to what is believed to be part of an original park fence and a footer from something.

05. A great postcard of the Looping coaster.

Olentagy Park is located in Columbus, just north of downtown. Traveling along High Street, keep an eye out on your left for the entrance to Olentangy Village Apartments. This is the very same property the park was located on. The only reminders, however, are the old trolley line right of way (including the bridge area) and some old fences. A huge stone arch used to tower over the trolley entrance. It is a very peaceful place, and a nice stop along one of the bike trails in that area. The property now known as Olentangy Village Apartments was once an amusement park full of excitement, beauty and magic. Today, many of itís longtime residents, as well as newcomers, would agree that the Village possesses a tranquility and charm seldom found in apartment settings. robert M. Turner founded the park in 1880, beginning with a tavern, picnic grounds and swimming. The Columbus Railway, Power and Light Co. took control in 1895 and operated the tavern for a few years. In 1899, the Dusenbury brothers from New Lexington bought 100 acres of the park, and began to add attractions. Over the next few years one could find a restaurant and colonnade, figure 8 coaster, row boats, bowling alleys, zoo, Japanese village, and the largest theatre in America at the time. Two more coasters were added in 1909, the Whirlwind and Red Devil, followed shortly by a Loop-the-Loop, which was one of a few primitive looping coasters. These did not last long due to the lack of technology and extreme forces on riders. Arrow Dynamics was the first company to successfully re-introduce the loop in 1975, though it initially took on a corkscrew shape.

Other favorites that called the Olentangy grounds home were the Shoot-the-Chutes, Old Mill, Tunnel of Love, dance hall and giant swimming pool, the largest in the central states. 1923 brought financial difficulty for the Dusenbry brothers, and the park was sold to the Olentangy Amusement Co. managed by Max Stern. In 1926 it cost $2.75 for admission and a train ride from Pomeroy OH to the park. In 1929 Leo & Elmer Haenlein signed a lease for the park until 1938. They added an outdoor ballroom, Joy Mill (funhouse) and more animals to the zoo. L.L. Leveque Co. bought the park in 1937 and soon Gooding Amusement Co. (which owned the Columbus Zoo at the time) bought the carousel, ferris wheel, dodgem, airplane ride and rifle range. The apartments which are seen today were built on the park grounds in 1939 and designed be Washington D.C. architect Raymond Snow. An unusually large bowling center was opened in 1940, and featured innovative concepts like automatic pin setters and new Duralane lamination surface. Tragically it was destroyed in a large 1980 fire. The area has gone through many ups and downs, but has received awards and recognition for it's atmosphere and painstaking preservation of the timeless memories from 100 years ago. Be sure to visit the link below for the ONLY Olentangy Park website I have found. It is full of old photos and history on parks in Columbus in the 1800's-1900's.



Olentangy Park on the Roller Coaster Database


All images copyright Brad Sherman unless noted otherwise.