I remember when I was young, my family would visit Lagoon once every summer, on our Stake Lagoon Day. It was a day we all looked forward to; we would bring our swimsuits and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and spend the day swimming in “water fit to drink” and riding the free rides that were included with our Stake ticket. My parents would also spring for some ride tickets so we could ride the kiddie rides in Mother Goose Land, and of course the Roller Coaster when we got tall enough.
The Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah that exists today had it’s beginnings on the shores of the Great Salt Lake in 1886, just a couple of miles west of it’s present location. It was called Lake Park Bathing Resort back in the day, and was a place for the locals to enjoy swimming in the Great Salt Lake. It has been said that the salty water of the lake makes it impossible to sink! Whether that is true or not, it was apparently an enjoyable way to spend a summer day.
Lake Park was not the only bathing resort along the shores of the Great Salt Lake at that time. The more famous Saltair opened in 1893 a little further south of Lake Park. For much of my life I thought that Lagoon sprang from Saltair, not knowing of the existence of Lake Park. It is rumored that Simon Bamburger, an investor in Lake Park, didn’t want to compete with Saltair, so he moved his resort inland. (Official reports cite the reason for the move as receding lake waters.)
The site of the present day Lagoon was originally swampland, with a small pond, or lagoon, which Bamburger excavated and made into a large lake, much larger than the lake at Lagoon today. He also planted trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass, and moved five of the old Lake Park buildings onto the new site.
If you traveled back in time to 1896, when the new pleasure resort named Lagoon opened, you wouldn’t recognize it as the Amusement Park it is today. Back then, it was more like a, well – a Park. It had new trees, beautiful gardens, and walking paths. One of the old buildings that was relocated was the dancing pavilion, which survived until 2004. Dancing was one of the most popular activities at the park, along with picnicking, fishing, and baseball.
Three years after the resort opened, the first thrill ride was introduced. It was called Shoot the Chutes, and must have been the most exciting thing to happen in the resort’s short history. In what seems like an early version of the Log Flume ride, boatloads of riders slipped down a giant ramp and splashed into the water.
The Log Flume ride that exists today was added in 1976. As a teenager, we were thrilled when we got soaked at the end of the ride, and always tried to be in the wettest possible spot.
The next big thing at Lagoon was the hand carved Carousel, built in 1893 and installed in 1906. We rode the Carousel every year when I was young, and as I stood in line and watched the Carousel go round and round, I would always try to find the animal that went up in the air the highest, and then rush for that animal as I went through the turnstile. I still love the Carousel!
It wasn’t until 1921 that Lagoon acquired it’s iconic thrill ride – The Lagoon Dipper. This ride eventually came to be known as the White Roller Coaster, and is still front and center of Lagoon today. (However, it is no longer white, as it has been updated with plain pressure treated lumber.)
Lagoon has weathered all sorts of set backs through the years, including a fire in 1953 that destroyed the east end of the Roller Coaster, along with several other buildings. But somehow, Lagoon always comes back better and better!
The baby boats are a favorite with the toddler crowd. Notice the lack of fences in the historic photos.
The Funhouse was a favorite when I was a kid. There were really tall slides that we rode down in gunny sacks, and a spinning ride that I wanted desperately to try, but my parents said I was too little and would get hurt. The goal was to climb on this wheel when it was stopped, and try not to get flung off as it spun faster and faster. The photo below was of the original funhouse, that burned down in the 1953 fire. A bigger spinning wheel was added to the new funhouse.
Sadly (or not, depending on your point of view), the funhouse is one of the attractions that is no longer operational. But you can find plenty of other things to do at Lagoon! Check out my post, Lagoon, it’s what FUN is! to see how to have a great day at Lagoon.
What is your favorite attraction at Lagoon? What defunct ride do you miss most?