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Mountain Park
A Brief History

The Queen of the Mountain

Mountain Park was built in 1894 by the Holyoke Street Railway as a way to increase weekend business on the company's trolley cars.  Over the next 94 years, Mountain Park provided the citizens of Holyoke and its neighbors a variety of entertainment.  When the park closed in 1987, so too did a chapter in the hearts and lives of many citizens of Western Massachusetts.

Early on, one would get to Mountain Park by riding the trolley from downtown Holyoke, for the cost of a shinny nickel.  Eventually, in the late 1930's, the trolleys gave way to buses, and later the automobile (which often could resemble a bus thanks to the park's carload promotions!).

Mountain Park's early attractions were relatively tame by today's standards of high-tech thrill rides.  Around the turn of the century, one could take a day trip to Mountain Park and take in the scenic vistas of Mount Tom, stroll through the deer park and visit the bear den, ride the carousel and "The Great Gorge Water Ride," and watch live entertainment on an open stage all in the same day.

As time moved on, so too did Mountain Park.  In the early 1900's, the open stage was converted into the Casino, which would house the summer theatre and play host to some of the biggest names in entertainment.  In 1909, the park constructed a dance hall, where many a young couple first met.  In 1927, the park underwent its largest expansion, adding many new rides and attractions.  The Great Gorge Scenic Water Ride and the old carousel were removed and replaced by the Mountain Flyer roller coaster and the carousel that still stands today.

The park survived the depression and continued on strong through its heyday -  the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's.  During this time you could ride one of Mountain park's 28 rides, such as the Mountain Flyer, carousel, whip, dodgems, ferris wheel, or funhouse, or watch a play put on by the Valley Players, who operated from 1941 to 1962.  Even in the 1970's, one could spend a day at the park and still have money in his or her pocket - you could ride all day for $1.50 in 1972.

The early 1970's and the 1980's spelled the beginning of Mountain Park's downfall.  The dance hall burned down on the night of Holyoke High School's prom in 1971 and that same year the Casino was torn down.  Changing urban conditions and diminishing popularity slowly began to take their hold.  In 1987, the park's final season, there was a fatal accident on the miniature train ride.  The park could not recover from the negative publicity and the resulting increase in insurance premiums and as a result closed down forever in the fall of 1987.

Many of Mountain Park's wonderful rides were auctioned off, leaving behind only the Mountain Flyer roller coaster and many buildings.  As we entered the 1990's, the former park fell prey to arsonists, with the Mountain Flyer finally being bulldozed in 1991 in order to prevent a catastrophic fire.  All that remains now is a few partially collapsed buildings, the carousel house, an overgrown miniature golf course, and many, many wonderful memories.

One piece of Mountain Park still stands tall, however.  After the park's closing, a movement was started by John Hickey and the school children of Holyoke to purchase the carousel intact.  In 1991, that dream became a reality and in 1994 the Mountain Park carousel rose from the ashes to live on in Holyoke Heritage State Park.

So, as you can see, "The Queen of the Mountain" still reigns supreme, both in our hearts and in the unsilencable music of the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.
 


The horses of the Mountain Park Carousel still ride on...
Based upon a history of Mountain Park residing in the Holyoke History Room of the Holyoke Public Library - Author Unknown.

 


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