Although St. Louis Park did not any amusement parks
within its borders, Parkites have had access to several such
parks through the years. Here are a few of them:
was a 40 acre park located on Lake
Marion in Lakeville, Minnesota. Colonel Marion Savage built Antlers Park
to attract passengers to the
From the Lakewood Area Historical Society:
Antlers Amusement Park became one of the
most famous amusement parks in the upper Midwest. It
contained a lavish dance pavilion with a gleaming oak
dance floor; a large bathing beach that featured a dock,
diving tower and high sliding chute; a boat dock that
offered sailboats, rowboats and canoes; a children's
playground with a miniature operating train for
children; tennis courts, an athletic field and baseball
diamond with a grandstand for spectators; and an aerial
swing. A nine-hole golf course was located nearby. The
Dan Patch Railroad Line [provided transportation to the
park.] Luxury excursion cars with real leather
seats, stained glass upper windows and richly carved and
inlaid wood brought thousands of visitors to the park
each summer. On weekends in the summer of 1912, these
trains reportedly made 19 scheduled runs each day. The
area was already popular with wealthy families from
southern states who came to escape summer heat and
humidity. These families and other visitors stayed in
cabins located around the lake or at Weichselbaum's
Resort, which was famous for its fried chicken, apple
pie and homemade ice cream. The The amusement park
declined in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s [streetcar
co. sold it in 1916] due to a combination of factors -
the advent of the automobile, the Great Depression and
several dry years that saw Lake Marion drop to its
lowest level ever.
One reader tells us that "in the 1960s and
early 1970s it regularly hosted picnics for many thousands
of people on weekend days during the summer, typically
sponsored by major corporations and unions in the Twin
Cities metropolitan area, e.g., Northwest Airlines, IBEW,
UAW, Honeywell, and Hitchcock Industries. When the last
owners retired, they sold the park to the city of
Big Island Park
lasted from 1906 to 1911. This 65-acre park was situated on
the heavily wooded Big
Island on Lake Minnetonka. It was purchased in
1905 and operated by the
Minneapolis and Suburban Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the
Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. (TCRT). Park-goers would take
the new electric streetcar, which ran just south of St.
Louis Park on 44th Street, to the Excelsior Dock, where
passengers could take one of 9 streetcar boats (named Minneapolis, St.
Paul, Minnetonka, Como, Minnehaha, White Bear, Hopkins,
Harriet and Stillwater) to the park. The official opening was
on August 5, 1906 . The boats operated until 1926.
Patrons were met with such amusements
as the “Happy Hooligan Slide,” a “Figure-8 Toboggan,” and a
miniature train. The park featured a large music casino, a
large roller coaster, the Old Mill, the Scenic Ride to
Yellowstone, and a carousel. The buildings has a Spanish
mission theme. A 200 ft. tower dominated the park.
The price was only 25 cents,
including the streetcar ride, and it became clear that it
was not a profitable operation, especially after the TCRT
also bought the Tonka Bay Hotel. Both the park and the hotel
closed at the end of the 1911 season. After sitting
abandoned for a few years, the park was disassembled in
1918, its iron going to scrap iron for the (WWI) war effort.
Some remaining buildings, including a mess hall, became part
of a Veteran's Camp starting in the early 20's. The
streetcar boats were discontinued in July of 1926. In 1924,
Excelsior Amusement Park was built at the site of the
waiting station for the streetcar boats. Streetcar boats
were revived in 1996. For pictures from the Minnesota
Historical Society, click
Excelsior Amusement Park
This, the site of many a school
picnic and provider of Free Rides for Good Grades, opened on
May 30, 1925, the brainchild of Fred W. Pearce, Sr., of
Detroit. The streetcar that ran down 44th Street in Edina just south
of St. Louis Park took passengers from Minneapolis to the park
until 1932, when it was replaced by a bus from Hopkins.
1933, you could see Capt. Jack Payne leap backward from a
100-foot ladder into a tank of blazing fire – THRILLING –
DARING – DEATH DEFYING! You could also see Smith’s diving
ponies leap from a tower 55 feet into a shallow tank of
water. Other attractions were Fred Reckless on a swaying
pole in 1932, and Prince Nelson, who walked the tightrope 80
feet above the ground without a net in 1931.
July 6, 1933, Hennepin County Review
Excelsior Park Roller Coaster and
Fun House, 1930s
One of the biggest attractions was the wooden rollercoaster,
first called the "Mountain Ride," then the "Cyclone."
It was designed by John A. Miller and completed in April
1925. At a height of 65 feet it was called the highest roller coaster in
the Northwest - back when it was the only roller coaster in
the Northwest. When the park closed it was torn down in the
winter of 1974.
The other favorite attraction was the merry-go-round, made
of handcarved wood by Italian craftsmen. Fortunately, the
carousel was saved and sold to Valleyfair, which opened on
May 25, 1976. The horses were restored by Ray Bahmer
of Hopkins during the winter of 1974-75.
Across the street from Excelsior Park was the Danceland Ballroom.
One source says it had been the former casino of the Tonka Bay
Hotel, another Tonka Bay's Roller Rink. In January 1920 it
was disassembled and moved across the frozen lake to a
location between Excelsior Bay and the streetcar tracks.
Pearce bought it in 1928. It closed in
1968 and burned to the ground on July 8, 1973.
Still in the Pearce family, the park closed the weekend
after Labor Day, 1973.
For pictures from the Minnesota
Historical Society, click
There has been much written about this park, including A
Picture Book of the Excelsior Amusement Park.. from Rise to
Demise by the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical
Society, 1991. Also see
Lake Minnetonka.com for an excellent history.
Queen Anne Kiddieland
This cute little park was on Highway 100 in Bloomington, south of
Edina and St. Louis Park. Here's an article about the park from
the Edina Historical Society's newsletter in May 2011:
During the 1950s and '60s, many Edina
children celebrated their birthdays with a party at
Queen Anne Kiddieland, a wonderland of ponies, amusement
rides and the
Rock Island Rocket, a miniature 1/6 scale replica of
a real train.
The train was then called the Casey
Jones Flyer, in honor of the popular kids'TV host Casey
Jones, whose show entertained kids at lunchtime in the
Twin Cities. Casey, a railroad engineer character
played by actor
Roger Awsumb, drove the train around the track every
Sunday to the delight of his young fans.
Photo courtesy of the Edina Historical
"We were packed most every Sunday," said Boyd Thomas,
who as a high school kid helped his father Frank run the
pony rides at the busy amusement park, which offered
party rooms and ticket specials for birthday
Judy and Jeanne Andersen, @ 1960
The park provided summer entertainment before modern
amusement parks like Valleyfair opened.
Kiddieland's rides were smaller, but even teens hung out
there to flirt and find dates from other towns.
Visitors recall that Queen Anne
Kiddieland seemed to be in the middle of nowhere at the
southeast corner of what is now the intersection of
Interstates 494 and 100. But then, the land was in
"the country." In fact, the ponies came from
Thomas's 80-acre farm located a few miles away, at 78th
Street and France Avenue in Bloomington, where he raised
dairy cattle and hay.
By the end of the 1960s, however, the
494 strip transformed, thanks to crowds at the new
Metropolitan Stadium, freeway construction and the
population boom. An office tower now stands at the
Queen Anne Kiddieland site, but those who want to recall
their past can still ride on the Rock Island Rocket
which is now housed at the Jackson Street Roundhouse in
The park was owned by Tom E. Casey and his
wife Anne, whom he
referred to as "Queen Anne." After the land
was taken for the highway, the
park moved way out to Blaine, truly the middle of nowhere at
The Caseys were true entrepreneurs; they built the Queen Anne
Courts manufactured home community that is still in
operation in Lakeville. Casey was also an avid ham
radio operator, and once got in trouble with the city for
erecting a radio tower at his home on Kipling Ave.
Anne Casey retired to Arizona and died in 2011.
was on the south shore of White Bear
Lake in what is now the City of Mahtomedi, Minnesota. It was there from
roughly 1898 to 1938 and was quite a popular place. It was
much like Excelsior Amusement Park on Lake Minnetonka. The
park was owned by the Twin City Rapid Transit Corp.
For pictures from the Minnesota Historical Society, click
was built by H.A. Donnelly on 10 acres at East Lake Street
and 33rd Avenues, in today's Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. The park, which lasted
from 1905 until 1911, featured a 120-foot-high electric
tower which drew in visitors, roller coaster, miniature
train, a floating theater, and the "House of Nonsense." The
most popular attraction was an exhibition of premature
babies in incubators, a common curiosity of the times. More
than 70,000 visitors attended the park on opening day. For
pictures from the Minnesota Historical Society,