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Lakewood Park was an amusement park located about 3 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte, NC between 1910 and 1933. The lake & dam were originally created by the Southern Power Company in 1910 to cool the power transformers but soon became Charlotte's finest, up to date recreational area.

Newspapers during that time would often refer to Lakewood Park as a "veritable Coney Island" and it was recognized as one of the most attractive and up to date parks in the south. The park's grounds initially consisted of approximately 92 acres and later expanded to just over 100 acres.

Lakewood Park Pavilion photo - click here

Lakewood was a typical amusement park for its time and included such attractions as a Roller Coaster, Ferris Wheel, Circle Swings, a large Carousel, Shooting Gallery, Bowling Alley, 44 Steel Row Boats, Petting Zoo, Cafe, Swimming Pool, Casino and a Dance Hall which played the sounds of the Lakewood Italian Band. The park consistently touted it's "pure" drinking water "direct from the artesian well drilled 109 feet into solid rock." The park was built and owned by the Cincinnati Amusement Company. They also had parks in several other states at the time. The Roller Coaster was built at a cost of $15,000. It was the larger "Circle Dip" type which offered more turns and hills (see photo below). It was removed in 1914 after the company running the coaster went bankrupt. Claiming lack of monies due to Sunday blue laws where no amusement devices could operate on a Sunday. Only the row boats could operate on Sunday.

See 1915 ad for Lakewood Park - click here

Newspapers were advertising "Free Motion Pictures shown every night" in 1910. One newspaper article from 1910 stated "new resting rooms for the ladies will be erected in May where maids will be stationed to look after them and their children. A special corps of officers will patrol the grounds and intoxicants will not be permitted in Lakewood Park."

See 1917 ad for Lakewood's new pool - click here

Soldiers from nearby Camp Greene would also frequent Lakewood Park. They could easily board the electric railway which had a turnaround at the military camp. The soldiers would also frequent another, yet smaller amusement park closer to Camp Greene named "Liberty Park" which was advertised as a park "planned, built & operated for the pleasure of the soldier." It was Lakewood Park's only competition at the time and had many of the same amusements that Lakewood Park had, except the lake and coaster.

See 1918 ad for Liberty Park - click here

The park was owned by the Southern Public Utilities (formally Southern Power Co.) and according to a lease agreement I obtained, was leased to a Mr. W.S. Orr in 1921 for the sum of $2000.00 with lease option for 1922.

For the most part, people stopped coming to Lakewood Park in 1933 during the Great Depression. A tornado hit the area on April 6, 1936 and heavy rains washed out the dam. Repairs were never made and the park closed for good.

Lakewood Park Dam break photo - click here

1928 Map of Charlotte showing Lakewood Park's location & midway - click here

Thanks to fellow historian Dan MacKellar for locating the 1911 Sanborn Map and coaster image. Map from UNC Archives
Street car service improved in 1910 with the opening of the double line. New, larger trains were purchased in 1915 to increase capacity.
Guests arriving at Lakewood Park will stop at this new, up-to-date station. The lake and Pavilion can be seen in the distance. This postcard is postmarked 1911.
This aerial postcard is undated but it is likely from the late 1910's to early 20's. You can see the Pavilion building with the red roof that juts out slightly over the lake in the small cove. Just behind that building is the electric trolley lines. The narrow white-roofed building on the water's edge to the left of the Pavilion would be the boat house, where you would board your row boat. The amusement park would lie directly behind the boat house. Some of the roads you see in the background are still in use today.
1910 electric trolley Charlotte, NC
This 1910 postcard shows an electric trolley that ran to Lakewood Park. The banner at the bottom reads, "Boating and Refreshments Lakewood Park." The sign at the top of the car reads, "Fourth Ward." A sign on the gate at the doorway reads, "Baseball today Charlotte vs Anderson." The sign on side of the car reads, "Charlotte Electric Railway."  
1915 electric trolley Charlotte, NC
A photo of the new trolley cars put into service by the Southern Public Utilities Company in 1915 for service to Lakewood Park.
photo: courtesy the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library
Lakewood Park at night - Charlotte, NC
Lakewood Park touted it's new lighting system for the 1910 season. Strings of lights were placed around the lake giving couples a well lit stroll along the walkway at night. The amusement rides were placed on the southern side of the trolley line which divided the park. A tunnel was built under the tracks so patrons could easily access the amusement park or the lake side without crossing the tracks. If you look closely towards the center of the postcard above, you can see the stairway that led from the parks main trolley station to this tunnel.
Flower Garden at Lakewood Park in Charlotte, NC
Lakewood was also known for it's beautiful flower gardens like the one in this postcard postmarked Sept. 4, 1917. In the distance you can see several structures, including the stairs leading up to the roller coaster entrance in the center structure slightly obscured by the trees.
1910 roller coaster at Lakewood Park in Charlotte, NC
The Roller Coaster, or "Scenic Railway" as it was called, opened on July 9, 1910 at a cost of $15,000. It was the largest size constructed by the Cincinnati Amusement Co. with 7, three-seated, richly upholstered cars traveling on 2,200ft of track which included seven dips. The 100 passenger Carousel was touted as the largest in the country when it opened in 1910. It was 44ft. in diameter and had 3 rows of horses and chariots. A new merry-go-round was added to Lakewood Park in 1924.
Row-boating was a popular past-time at Lakewood Park. One newspaper article stated that 44 new steel boats were purchased for the 1910 season.
Two Ostriches at the Lakewood Park Zoo in Charlotte, NC
Pictured above are "Ruth" & "Boaz", the 2 Nubian ostriches Lakewood brought in from Arizona in 1915. The zoo at Lakewood Park opened in 1915 as a small petting zoo. Ten years later it had grown to be what was considered the most extensive zoo between Washington and Memphis. It had a variety of animals including monkeys from Brazil, a black bear from PA., a wildcat from the Dismal Swamp, water buffalo, wolves, a skunk and even a Gila Monster. Some of the old animal cages, which were made of concrete and steel, were left standing until the early 1960's, long after the zoo closed in 1936.
photo of Lakewood Park's black bear & keeper, 1926
The Pavilion was built over the lake as seen in the postcard views below. Folks could casually stroll along the walkway built around the lake. Note the row boats in the distance.
The trolley line pictured here brought patrons to and from Lakewood Park. The amusement rides were built on the left side of the tracks in 1910 and a tunnel was built under the tracks so patrons could easily access the lake and the midway.
Casino at Lakewood Park in Charlotte, NC
Lakewood Park's Casino opened in 1915. The 800 seat Casino offered a variety of entertainment including plays performed by the Bijou Stock Co. for 10¢ or 15¢.
Visit: Carowinds - The Early Years (1972-1983) - HERE
A nostalgic look back at the park in it's heyday.