Why didn't you tell me to bring my camera?
Note: The park is in fact operating. It just happened to be closed for the day when I walked through.
It was dinner time, so our host piled us all into his truck to take us to dinner. We found ourselves cruising up IR-5, and an hour later, we were heading through the gates of Oaks Park. The place was dark and quiet, but Oaks Park is ungated, so we drove right through to what I assume to be the main parking area. As the name would suggest, Oaks Park is heavily wooded, and I am told that it is the oldest amusement park on the West coast. The area where we parked is all backfilled, and is dominated by an AM radio tower. Apparently, that area used to all be under water. Come to think of it, Harry G. Traver: Legends of Terror contains photos of the long-defunct Zip coaster which show the piers originally used to support the rides. Today, the inlet has been filled, but there are a few spots where you can see traces of the deep ravine...for instance, adjacent to the bridge between the parking area and the roller skating rink...and you can see that some of the buildings are built on scaffolding.
Our first stop was the roller skating rink. This building was hosting the Western regional skating competition at the time. The rink floor is a gorgeous knot-free tongue-and-groove; and suspended over the center of the rink is a gallery containing an old Wurlitzer organ. Because Oaks Park is built on a river inlet, it suffers from frequent flooding, so the floor of the roller rink actually has empty 55-gallon drums strapped to its underside; in flood conditions, the floor can be cut loose and floated clear of the flood waters. What a neat idea!
After watching the skaters for a while, we wandered through the park. It's a beautiful place, with a good selection of carnival rides, and even a Pinfari Looping Star coaster...which, of course, I didn't get to ride, but as many r.r-c readers may recall, I have ridden that model and been quite impressed with it. Oaks Park contains the following rides--
|Ride Name||Manufacturer||Common Name|
|Rock-O-Plane||Eyerly Aircraft Co.||Rock-O-Plane|
|Roll-O-Plane||Eyerly Aircraft Co.||Roll-O-Plane|
|Spider||Eyerly Aircraft Co.||Spider|
|Looping Thunder||Pinfari||ZL-42 Looping Star|
|Ferris wheel||Eli Bridge Co.||Eagle rim-drive wheel|
|Skooter (bumper cars)||Lusse Bros. (?)||Bumper Cars|
|Sea Dragon||Chance||Sea Dragon|
|Haunted Mine||Dark Ride|
|Scrambler||Eli Bridge Co.||Scrambler|
|Sky Fighter||Allan Herschell||Sky Fighters|
|Jump Cycle||Hampton||Jump Cycle|
|Bumper Boats||Kiddie Bumper Boats||Bumper Boats|
|Tubs of Fun||Hampton||Tubs of Fun|
|Rescue Trucks||Aeroaffiliates||Rescue Trucks|
Oaks Park has been around since 1905, and has survived as a traditional ungated park. It is a beautiful place, and well worth a visit. I suggest, however, that you might enjoy your visit more if you visit during normal operating hours. 8-)
Next trip: Stricker's Grove
1997 Trip Report index
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.