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4E. LUDLOW LAGOON PARK (1895 - 1917)

Decades before Disneyland and King's Island opened, one of the largest amusement parks in the country at the turn of the 20th Century was the Ludlow Lagoon Park in Ludlow, KY. It had a daily attendance that varied from several thousand to over 40,000 people. Its location was near a train stop in Ludlow with Trolley access to and from the park from this station. Trolley service was also available for the adjacent community of Covington and as frequently as every couple of minutes from Fountain Square in Cincinnati. This provided visitors with convenient access to the park from not only Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, but from other states.  The entrance to the park is shown by the accompanying photos.

Just a year after the Chicago World's Fair was held in 1893, development on the Ludlow Lagoon Park began and it was opened in 1895. It was situated on a site of about 100 acres containing a lake of about 85 acres in its center. The lagoon, or lake, was formed by a 400-foot-wide damn on Pleasant Run Creek next to the Ohio River. The lake had depths of 18 to 45 feet deep and five islands.  There were numerous and exciting exhibits and rides around the lake including a Circle Swing, Boat House, Theatre, Dancing Pavilion / Bar, Aerial Roadway, Japanese Pavilion, Electric Carousel, Midway / Novelty Arcade, Shooting Gallery, Merry-Go-Round, Motion Pictures Building, the Shooting Chute, a Motordrome, Balloon Rides, Scenic Railway (Roller Coaster) with a two-level corkscrew, the Edison Exhibit, an Aerial Roadway, a Club House, a Bathing Beach, a Ferris Wheel, an Amphitheater, an Ice Cream Stand and a baseball field. The lake also provided excellent fishing. The park boasted frequent fireworks and concerts and appealed to many large groups with some that would number in the thousands. To continue to attract visitors, the park often added attractions and removed those that were not as popular. A photo of the park c. 1900 is below, accompanied by a 3D image created by the Ludlow Historical Society (at a different angel), which identifies most of the features in the park. As shown in the 3D image, only two edifices remain; the former Club House and the Caretakers Cottage.

Ownership & Management

Railroads that serviced Ludlow influenced the creation of the lagoon and it became owned by the Ludlow Lagoon Co.  Wm. Riedlin, the President of the Bavarian Brewing Co., became a major shareholder of this entity by 1895.  John J. Noonan became the General Manager (GM) of the Park around this same time. In 1896,  Riedlin and Noonan held nearly all the stock in the concern. They served on the Board of Directors and were joined by an officer of the brewery who resided in Ludlow, H. J. Kruse, as well as (State) Senator William Goebel and William A. Ficks. The name of Noonan can be viewed on the park passes below. However, by 1902 it seems Riedlin owned all the shares of the Ludlow Lagoon Co. as apparently Noonan had outstanding debts and sold all his shares to Riedlin. Shortly thereafter, a legal dispute between the two men ensued, which apparently was resolved in favor of Riedlin.