Oaks Amusement Park
|Location||7805 SE Oaks Park Way|
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Owner||Oaks Park Association|
|Opened||May 30, 1905|
|Operating season||Spring weekends and daily during summer (rides)|
Oaks Park is a small amusement park located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. The park opened in May 1905 and is one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the country.
The 44-acre (18 ha) park includes midway games, about two dozen rides that operate seasonally, a skating rink that is open all-year, and picnic grounds. It is also home to the Herschell–Spillman Noah's Ark Carousel, a historic wooden carousel constructed in 1912.
The park, conceived as an attraction timed to accompany the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, was built by the Oregon Water Power and Railway Company and opened on May 30, 1905, during a period when trolley parks were often constructed along streetcar lines. It attracted 300,000 visitors during its first season, and continued to attract about that many patrons throughout its first decade of existence.[n 1] Describing the moral panic of working-class entertainment venues opened at the time, a city council member described Oaks Park as "an immoral place" with "more drunkenness there than he had seen at any place in the City."
In the early 1920s, the park was sold to John Cordray, one of its managers. After Cordray died in 1925, Edward Bollinger, Oaks Park's superintendent, bought all but the land from Cordray's widow; Bollinger acquired the land in 1943. Some of the park's earliest rides included Chute the Chutes, a chute ride that whisked the riders down a steep incline plunging into a small man-made lake; the Barrel of Fun, a funhouse which included screaming skeletons, mazes of mirrors, and dark dead-end hallways; and the Mystic River Ride, a boat ride that traveled through darkened tunnels. The park also featured a floating bathhouse anchored along the river at the south end of the park, as well as a dance pavilion, which attracted famous acts from around the world, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the John Philip Sousa Marching Band, and Patrick Conway and his World Famous Band.
In 1948, the Vanport flood submerged Oaks Park for thirty days, killing a third of the bluff's oak trees, warping most of the rides, and resulting in damage to the rink that took five months to repair; the next year, Bollinger's son Robert took over after his father's death. The damage prompted the owners to rebuild the rink floor on airtight iron barrels, which would float in the event of another flood; the floats worked as planned during the area's Christmas flood of 1964 and the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996.
For many years, three steam locomotives were kept at the park, on static display. These included Southern Pacific 4449, from 1958 to 1974; Spokane, Portland and Seattle 700, from 1958 to 1986; and Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co. 197, from 1958 to 1996. Although no longer at Oaks Park, the three locomotives all remain in Portland, and since 2012 they are residing at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.[n 2] Two years after the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park closed in 1970, the Oregon Journal reported Oaks Park "may be on the verge of a renaissance"; three years later Sellwood's local newspaper, The Bee, reported "30,000 people a month still come during the summer."
In 1985, Robert Bollinger donated Oaks Amusement Park to the 501(c)(3) non-profit Oaks Park Association, which continues to operate the park to this day. The mission of the Oaks Park Association is the preservation and perpetuation of the historic amusement park as an affordable, safe, and family-friendly recreation attraction open to the general public.
Park rides and midway games are open weekends during spring and daily during summer. Rides include the following:
- Adrenaline Peak, a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster (new for 2018)
- Disk'O (added in 2007, manufactured by Zamperla)
- Oaks Park Train, a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge C.P. Huntington train (new as of 2013)
- Zero Gravity
- Spider (Eyerly Spider)
- AtmosFear (new for 2021)
- Big Pink (a giant slide, now has 3 colors: pink, yellow and blue)
- Ferris Wheel (manufactured by Eli Bridge Co.)
- Frog Hopper
- Herschell–Spillman Noah's Ark Carousel
- Rock 'N' Roll (a rock 'n' roll themed Matterhorn, with cars shaped like '57 Chevys, similar to the Alpine Bobs)
- Chipper's Choppers (kiddie motorcycles, new for 2014)
- Chipper's Woods Miniature Golf (new for 2011)
- Cosmic Crash Bumper Cars
- Jump Boats
- Rockin' Tug (manufactured by Zamperla)
- Sky Fighters
- Toon Cars (kiddie cars)
- Tree Top Drop (new for 2016)
- Up Up and Away (manufactured by Zamperla)
- Zoom Coaster (kiddie coaster manufactured by E&F Miler Industries)
Roller skating rink
The park includes a 100 by 200 feet (30 m × 61 m) wooden roller skating rink, open year-round. The rink has had a pipe organ for most of its history; since 1955 it has been a Wurlitzer model with four manuals, moved to the rink from its previous home at Portland's Broadway Theatre, where it had been installed in 1926. All pipework for the organ is mounted on a platform hanging over the skate floor.
- The Zip, one of Harry Traver's famous Giant Cyclone Safety Coasters, operated at Oaks Park from 1927 to 1934.
- Scenic Railway, a wooden roller coaster that closed in 1935.
- Mad Mouse, a wild mouse roller coaster that operated from 1960 to 1976.
- Monster Mouse, a wild mouse roller coaster that operated from 1977 to 1995.
- Looping Thunder (steel looping roller coaster manufactured by Pinfari). Looping Thunder closed in 2017 to make way for a new Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter Roller coaster.
- The Haunted Mine, a dark spook-house ride, replaced in 2003 by 'Lewis and Clark: The Big Adventure', which closed in 2013
- Screamin' Eagle (a KMG Fireball).
- Jantzen Beach Amusement Park
- Lotus Isle
- Springwater Corridor, the former rail line that served the park, now a rail trail
- This streetcar / trolley park had to be sold in 1925 due to change in laws preventing utility companies from owning entities not connected with their major product. In this case, the streetcar / trolley park was built to increase ridership of the Oregon City, Bellrose and Estacada trolley lines. John Cordray purchased "The Oaks Resort" operating company (not the land) early in 1925 shortly before he died. Edward Bollinger purchased it from Cordray's widow. Via a gentlemen's agreement, Edward and Robert Bollinger purchased the land in 1943; however, only Edward's name was on the transaction. Edward amended his Will to honor their "gentleman's agreement" with his son. This Will was not honored as Edward re-married without updating it. Robert purchased the portion that was awarded to Edward's widow. The last payment was made in 1951.
- The fourth locomotive stored with these three was the No. 418 Finnish War Hero steam locomotive, from cira 1957 to 1980.
- Aalberg 2003, p. 254.
- Lizzy Acker (March 19, 2018). "A look back at 113 years of Oaks Park, Oregon's oldest amusement park". OregonLive. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
- Boag, Peter (2003). Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-520-24048-0.
- Dana Beck (December 20, 2012). "Oaks Amusement Park, and its beginnings". The Bee. Pamplin Media Group. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- Aalberg 2003, p. 263.
- Dana Beck (November 29, 2014). "Oaks park still going strong, 50 years after the 1964 flood". The Bee. Pamplin Media Group. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
- Aalberg 2003, pp. 263–64.
- Quoted in Aalberg 2003, p. 264
- Aalberg 2003, p. 252.
- "Ride Guide". Oakspark.com. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
- Jason Vondersmith (March 23, 2018). "New ride is a Scream at Oaks Amusement Park". The Portland Tribune. Pamplin Media Group. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
- "Oaks Park Roller Rink, Portland Oregon". PSTOS. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
- "WurliTzer Opus 1380". Theatreorgans.com. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
- "Scenic Railway - Oaks Amusement Park (Portland, Oregon, United States)". rcdb.com. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "Mad Mouse - Oaks Amusement Park (Portland, Oregon, United States)". rcdb.com. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "Monster Mouse - Oaks Amusement Park (Portland, Oregon, United States)". rcdb.com. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- "Looping Thunder – Oaks Amusement Park (Portland, Oregon, USA". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
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