The Racing Whippet, the Midway, The Dips and
the lake were some of the feature attractions at West View Park.
A Neighborhood Tradition
Pittsburgh Trolley Parks
The First Brookline Picnic
West View Park (1909-1977)
Kennywood Park (1978-present)
Thrills, Chills and Good Times
Every June, at the end of the school
year, the Brookline community holds it's annual community picnic at a local
amusement park. The tradition dates back over 100 years to the early 1900s.
The picnic is sponsored by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce. In the early
days it was hosted by the Brookline Board of Trade and the Brookline Business
The first picnic was held in 1908 at
Kennywood Park, located in West Mifflin. The following year, the venue was
moved to West View Park in Bellevue. The picnic remained at West View until
1977, when the aging park closed. From 1978 to the present, the festivities
have returned to Kennywood Park, the Roller Coaster Capital of the
For many years, complimentary strips
of tickets were handed out to all of the local students near the end of the
school year. It was a moment eagerly anticipated. Additional ticket strips
would be available at boulevard stores or at the park itself. Every ride
cost a certain number of tickets, and you could save the leftovers for the
next year. In simpler times, picnic day was more of a ritual event, and it
seemed as if the entire community was present for the big day.
Although the Coaster Capital title
is in no way meant to signify that Kennywood can compare to mega-parks
like Six Flags. But, as local amusement venues go, the historic trolley
park ranks as one of the finest in the land. Today, every June, the good
citizens of Brookline descend upon Kennywood Park for a day of thrills,
chills and good times with friends and neighbors.
Kennywood Park (1898-present) and West View Park (1906-1977) were
but two of several "trolley parks" established on or near the Pittsburgh
Railways trolley lines. From the late 19th century through the mid 1950s,
there were almost two dozen such parks in the Pittsburgh area,
including Luna Park (1905-1909) in Oakland. They became very popular places
for companies and communities to hold picnics due to the easy access via
the rail service.
Pittsburgh Railways trolleys at the entrance
to West View Park (left) and Kennywood Park (right).
Today, only Kennywood Park has survived.
Designated a national historic landmark in 1987, Kennywood began as a picnic
grove leased by the Monongahela Street Railway Company. Sold to private interests
and chartered in 1906, the park has weathered the passing of time and kept
pace with the advancements in the amusement industry. Kennywood's historic
coasters are highly rated among roller coaster enthusiasts.
Although not considered a traditional
trolley park, White Swan Park (1955-1989), located near the Greater Pittsburgh Airport
was another popular location for family and school outings. Easily accessible
along the newly constructed Parkway West, White Swan featured the Mad Mouse
and a giant slide.
"Old-Fashioned Amusement Parks Once Beckoned,
Have Nearly Vanished"
The grand entrance to Luna Park in Oakland
and the popular Shoot-The-Chute splash ride.
The Lost Kennywood section of Kennywood Park is modeled after Luna Park
the Pittsburg Plunge, an attraction reminiscent of the Shoot-The-Chute
Other Western Pennsylvania parks
that Brookline families often visit, with roots in the 19th century,
are Idlewild Park (1878-present) and Conneaut Lake Park (1892-present). Idlewild, located near Ligonier, is the oldest
amusement park in Pennsylvania. It has been rated the second-best children's park
in the world. Conneaut Lake, located 96 miles north in Crawford County, is a
popular vacation resort. The park features the recently renovated Blue Streak, the sixth oldest wooden coaster
in the country, built in 1938.
Today, the three surviving parks give
visitors a unique blend of both past and present. Kennywood and Idlewild are owned
by Kennywood Entertainment, which until December 2007 was a closely held family
business owned by the Henninger and McSwigan families. Kennywood Entertainment
is now operated by Palace Entertainment, a subsidiary of Parques Reunidos, an
international amusement park company based in Madrid, Spain. Conneaut Lake
Park is owned by the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, Inc.
The First Brookline Community Picnic - 1908
One old-timer recalled the birth of
the School Picnic.
"The community picnic has remained
a feature in Brookline to this day, but it seems to have lost a little of
the luster of the old days, when picnic day was generally the only day of
the year that families would make the trip to the amusement
"In the old days, most people didn't
have their own cars, or if they did the husbands used them to go to work.
Families would meet on picnic day at one of the designated stops and board
the streetcars for the long trip to the park."
"One of the big stops was Creedmoor
Avenue. There would be hundreds of folks gathered there, all dressed up in
summer clothes and carrying big baskets of picnic lunches."
"The first picnic Brookline ever had
was at Kennywood Park. The only trouble with that was that it was so late
for the kids getting home on the specials. By the evening, almost all the
kids were tired, but no one was crying, because a young fellow named Joe
Butch got up in the front of the street car and sang song after song. After
that first attempt, the picnics were all held at West View Park,
which a shorter trip from Brookline."
West View Park, which opened
on May 23, 1906, was located on US Route 19 and accessible, right to the park
entrance, via the 19-Bellevue trolley in about half the time. The price
of admission was a nickel. The Brookline Board of Trade decided, in 1909, to
move the Brookline community picnic to West View Park, beginning a long and
memorable tradition that lasted for sixty-nine years.
Sixty-Nine Years at West View Park
Year after year, for nearly seven decades,
Brookliners flocked to West View for Picnic Day. Kids waited with baited
breath for their parents to get ready, and the lucky few rushed off to the
nearest trolley stop to make an early trip with their friends.
West View Park opened for the first
time on May 23, 1906. The park was constructed on a five-acre plot of land
that was once a swamp. The owner, T. M. Harton, damned the stream and created
a lake, called Lake Placid. Around this lake, Harton constructed the amusement
During the Golden Years of West View
Park, the venue was well known for its thrilling rides, haunted houses, dance
halls, tree-lined Midway and Kiddieland. The park had three roller coasters,
The Dips and the Racing Whippet for those over the line, and the Little Dips
located up on the hill in Kiddieland. For many years there was also the
Greyhound, a wild-mouse type of coaster.
The Mystic Chute Ride at West View
A bridge over Lake Placid and the
ballfield are in 1913.
The Main Entrance to West View Park,
the West View Park Lake and The Dips in 1915.
The Midway at West View Park was a
popular meeting place for family and friends.
The pathway leading from Kiddieland
to the main park complex in 1974.
The West View Park Dips, constructed in
1910 and shown here in 1925, was the first roller coaster in
Pennsylvania to feature dips and drops of over fifty feet. The Little Dips in
Kiddieland, shown in
1971, were a great place for the little ones to experience a small piece of that
The Scooters and the Auto Ride in
The Dips and The Midway in
The Midway at West View Park in
Other rides scattered throughout
the park over the years were the Mystic Chute, The Caterpillar, The Tumble Bug,
The Cuddle-Up, Ride-N-Laff, The Mirror Maze, The Whip, The Ferris Wheel,
Scoota Boot Rides, Row-Boat Rides, Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Helicopters,
Speed-O-Plane (later named the Greyhound), Loop-O-Plane, Chair-O-Plane,
Rock-O-Plane, Flying Scooters, Round-Up, Alpine Sky Ride, the Haunted House,
the Swings, the Antique Car Ride, the Merry-Go-Round, the Krazy Daizy Orbit,
the Miniature Railroad and the Pony Rides in Kiddieland.
There were also the games on the
Midway and in the Penny Arcade Pavilion, like skeeball and pinball games.
They included the Milk Bottle Game, Huck La Buck, Penny Pitch and Dart
Balloons. Other favorites were the Shooting Gallery and the Fish Pond.
And, who can forget Davey Jones Locker and the Pirates Cave?
The Trabant and Krazy Daizy Orbit.
The Loop-O-Plane and the
The West View Park Miniature Railroad
and the Antique Cars.
The entrance to the Danceland pavilion
and The Dips.
The Arcade building and The Midway.
Who can forget the excitement in the car when
arriving at the entrance
to the park and seeing the Devil's Bend of the Dips.
There was always plenty of good food to eat
at West View Park.
Lake Placid in 1913 and the Midway
in the 1970s.
The West View Park Ferris Wheel and
The Racing Whippet, Lake Placid and The
Riders waiting in line for the Dips
and The Haunted House.
Dancing and roller skating in the
West View ballroom were also very popular. Neon lighting and air conditioning
were added in 1948, converting the dance pavilion into Danceland. Vaughn Monroe,
Tex Beneke, Les Brown, Guy Lombardo, Harry James and the Dorseys appeared for
one night stands before rock and roll and "Over-19" record dances appeared in
the 1960s. The Rolling Stones played a show at Danceland during their first
U.S. tour in 1964.
An 18-hole miniature golf course was
built in 1961, followed by popular new attractions like the Haunted House in 1963,
and the Boot Hill walk-thru, Pirate Cave, and the Fascination Building in 1964.
The Alpine Sky Ride, operated as a concession by its builder, John T. Gibbs, was
added in 1965. A double ferris-wheel was added in 1970, along with the Tempest and
One of the original Haunted House cars
from West View Park.
<1960s Promotional Video From West View Park>
<8mm West View Park home movie footage from 1960>
<8mm West View Park home movie footage from 1973>
Over the years, the small lake built by
T.M. Harton was gradually filled in to create space for new attractions and
parking. Trolley service to West View Park was discontinued in 1965, marking the
official end of the trolley park era in the United States.
Then, in 1973, the venerable Danceland
Pavilion was completely destroyed by fire and not rebuilt. After this tragedy,
the decline of this once proud family park was swift. At the end of the 1977
season, Brookline patrons were shocked to hear that West View Park was closing
My recollections go back to the late 1960s
when I was nearing ten. I don't remember much about Kiddieland but do recall
the Little Dips and the kiddie cars that went in circles. As I got older my
days were spent along the Midway with my friends. Riding the Dips was always my
favorite, followed by the Racing Whippet. We'd ride them over and over.
The Racing Whippet. When first built in 1927,
the Whippet was considered
by many to be the most exciting roller coaster in the world.
On the Alpine Sky Ride we could glide
along above the Midway, hollering down to those we knew, or just admiring the
view. The Bumper Cars, Haunted House, Davey Jones Locker and playing skeeball
in the Arcade were also lots of fun.
At night, a ride on the Ferris Wheel
was an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the park with the lights on.
Tradition dictated that we all got ice cream and then waited in line for a
final ride on the Antique Cars. That tradition lasted until the summer of
1977. Those were fun times.
The Antique Cars, the Water Fountain and
the West View Park office.
Boot Hill was a scary place, and the
Dancing Pavilion was a hopping place back in the old days.
Eager riders stand at the entrance to the
Dips (left) and boats on Lake Placid.
The Ferris Wheel and Danceland.
A nice view of some of the rides and
attractions along the Midway, including the Trabant and sliding board.
West View Park may now be a relegated
to the status of shopping center, but for generations of Pittsburghers, and
we Brookliners in particular, it was a magical place full of fond memories.
The legendary park may be gone but it will never be forgotten by those
fortunate enough to have spent by-gone summer days wandering the
Midway at the Brookline Community Picnic.
An aerial view of West View Park
An aerial view of West View Park
Wikipedia: West View Park.
Brookline Journal news clipping from
A commemorative West View Park plate
from the early 1950s.
Some Photos Of West View
Park After Closing In 1977
The Arcade Building, The Dips and The Antique
Davey Jones Locker and Boot Hill.
The Dips and The Haunted House.
The Racing Whippet.
The Midway and The Tumbling Ferris
The Slide and The Bridge.
The Caterpillar and the walkway into the
The Demolition of
West View Park (1979-1980)
In 1979 the Dips were still standing,
but other buildings along the Midway had been razed.
The Dips were one of the last
rides to be torn down.
The Kiddie Dips were a favorite among
young riders, but by the end of 1980 the little coaster was gone.
* Several of the West View
Park photos are from the collection of John Schalcosky *
Kennywood Park - Home of the Thunderbolt
It was the summer of 1978 and Pittsburgh
was on the verge of being named the "City of Champions." Those of us who lived
in Brookline were on the verge of our first trip to another place with a
nickname. That year it was announced that the school picnic would be held at
the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World." For many, this would be their first
trip to Kennywood Park, and a few wondered if it would be equal to, greater
than, or less than West View.
Busses were chartered and the locals
headed to the designated departure areas. Somehow, the thought of something
new put a buzz in the air, and those who had experienced Kennywood before
reassured everyone that this would be worth the trip. The skeptics soon found
out what they had been missing. Kennywood turned out to be better and more
exciting than West View, and a new chapter in the picnic tradition was
The Thunderbolt and the Sky Coaster.
The old Cinesphere and the classic Log Jammer.
Kennywood Park is the home of the
Thunderbolt (formerly the Pippen), the Jack Rabbit and the Racer. As
technology moved into the age of the steel coasters, Kennywood added
the Laser Loop, which ran from 1980 to 1990. The Loop was dismantled in
favor of the lightning fast Steel Phantom, complete with loops and a
top speed approaching 90 MPH. Renovation in 2001 transformed the Steel
Phantom into the Phantom's Revenge, a smoother but no less speedy
coaster. The Skyrocket, built in 2010, launches riders skyward and into
a series of maximum-G pullouts. There is also the stomach churning
Exterminator and the Lil' Phantom in Kiddieland.
The Enterprise, The Old Mill,
The Round-Up and The Original Racer.
This former trolley park is steeped
with tradition, and boasts some rides that are nearing 100 years of age.
The Whip and the Carousel, Noah's Ark and the Old Mill (now Garfield's Nightmare)
are historic landmarks, and age has done nothing to dampen their charms.
The Jack Rabbit was built in 1920, the Pippen in 1924, and the Racer in
1927. The Pippen was altered to produce the Thunderbolt in 1960, retaining
much of the original track. The Auto Race, an amazing wooden race car track
built in 1930, is the only one of its kind still in existence.
Noah's Ark, The Carousel, The
Log Jammer and The Pirate Ship.
The passage of time and the need
for space to build newer and grander attractions has relegated some of
Kennywood's old rides the scrapyard or into storage. Gone are classic
favorites like The Old Mill, The Enterprise, The Round-Up, The Gold Rush
and The Turnpike.
On its 90th anniversary, Kennywood
opened a new section called Lost Kennywood, dedicated to the rebirth of some
of Kennywood's classic rides, like the Whip and the Bavarian Swings. The
themed area is modeled after the long-lost Luna Park in Oakland. The Pittsburg
Plunge is similar to the popular Shoot-The-Chute splash ride. At night, colorful
lighting illuminates the large reflecting pool and is a wonderful place to relax
and rest after a long day. Back in the bygone days, a large swimming pool stood
in the area now occupied by Lost Kennywood.
The park management team does a good
job of keeping up with the changes in the amusement industry and each season
they seem to open up a new and exciting attraction. Rides like the Kennywood
Arrow, the Sky Coaster, the Pit Fall, the Volcano, the Exterminator, the Bayern
Curve and Garfield's Nightmare were added. The Sky Rocket coaster is the latest
in the list of new thrill rides.
The Kennywood Railroad, built in 1945, uses
locomotives from the 1939 World's Fair.
A Ski Lift called Kenny's Parkway now
transports visitors to and from the upper parking lots. A leisurely round-trip
ride gives riders a birds-eye view of the park as it slowly descends into the
park. The additions are perfect compliments to age-old favorites like the
Kangaroo Hop, the Paddle Boats, the Raging Rapids, the Log Jammer, the Turtle,
the Bumper Cars, the Kennywood Railroad, and, of course, the classic Roller
The Racer and The Jack Rabbit are
classic roller coasters.
There are also plenty of games like
the Cat Rack, and lots of places to get snacks, ice cream and hot meals.
The Pavilion, the Pagoda, and the Potato Patch offer tasty delights, while
live performers liven things up at the Kennywood stage.
The Potato Patch and the Pagoda are
Each year, Brookliners prepare for
that special June day. The kids are up early with anticipation of the
thrills to come. The tickets are no longer free, but reasonably priced
discount tickets are available at most Boulevard stores.
The Racer, The Pit Fall and the
park's official mascot, Kenny Kangaroo.
The Brookline Community Picnic has
always been one of the most anticipated days of the calendar year, and for
good reason. It is one of those special days when Brookliners come together
as one big family at one of the nicest family amusement parks in the country,
Kennywood Park. As traditions go, "Kennywood Day" ranks as one of
The sleek and speedy Phantom's Revenge
can hit speeds of over 90mph.
Learn more about
present-day Kennywood Park at www.kennywood.com.
Wikipedia: Kennywood Park.
<WTAE In Photos: Kennywood Now
(Contains over 100 vintage Kennywood
The Lagoon at Kennywood Park is full of
rowboats in this 1940s scene.
The Monongahela Monster
and The Laser Loop.
The Aero 360 and the Sky Rocket.
The Flying Carpet and the simple-yet-effective
The Carousel, a historic landmark, and
Lost Kennywood's Chute the Chutes.
The Big Swings and the Musik Express, now called
the Bayern Curve.
The Rockets and The Turtle.
The Black Widow.
The Wipe Out and a look back down the first
rise on the Phantom's Revenge.
The loops of the Steel Phantom and
the historic Old Mill.
The Gran Prix features the electric
bumper cars, great for a good, jolting ride.
The Raging Rapids and The Whip,
a historic landmark.
The Auto Race, built in 1930, is a time-honored
classic and the Ghost Ship from days gone by.
Cowboy Joe and the Laughing Lady.
The Kennywood Turnpike was a big hit
for many years, oftentimes the last ride taken before going home.