Ludlow Lagoon Amusement Park was a major recreational center for the
Greater Cincinnati area between 1895 and 1920.
In 1894, workers began constructing a lake on Ludlow's western edge.
The lake was produced by damming the Pleasant Run Creek, which emptied
into the Ohio River. The original incorporators were: Jerome J. Weaver,
John J. Shipperd, Tom Jenkins, George M. Abbott and Charles Simmirall.
These individuals were also involved in the South Covington and Cincinnati
Street Railway Company. When the streetcar lines were laid through Ludlow,
they were extended to the Lagoon entrance. The entrance was located
on what is today Laurel Street between Park Avenue and Lake Street.
original attraction at the Lagoon was the lake. The lake was so large
that five islands dotted its surface. The clear fresh water provided
for excellent fishing and boating. The promoters also constructed a
wide sandy beach that was used extensively for swimming.
Other early attractions included the large clubhouse. This large Victorian
structure sported wide verandas that wrapped around the building. The
clubhouse was constructed on high ground, which offered sweeping views
of the lake and other attractions. The Lagoon dance pavilion also drew
thousands to the park. This pavilion provided space for hundreds of
dancers and large orchestras that were popular during the Jazz Age.
The orchestra leader for many years was Professor Len Bagby.
Over the next few decades, many rides were added to the park. Among
these were a $10,000.00 merry-go-round, a large 100' Ferris wheel that
was housed on an island, a roller coaster (scenic railway) over the
lake, a gold mine replica, an elevated automobile ride, a circle swing,
and a Chute the Chutes.
first general manager of the park was John Noon, who held the position
from 1895 to 1902. J.J. Weaver was his successor.
Various entertainments also drew large crowds. The park boasted a 2,500
amphitheatre where live productions were held. A large moving picture
theater was also very popular as was the vaudeville stage. The park
also featured a Japanese Fair that included an authentic teahouse and
small exhibit space. Other activities included a large midway with various
games, refreshment stands, picnic grounds and several miles of walking
events between 1913 and 1920, led to the closing of the park. A flood
in 1913 damaged many of the Lagoon's attractions. A large financial
investment was found necessary to restore the facilities. In that same
year, tragedy struck the park. Lagoon managers constructed a large motorcycle
racetrack. The quarter-mile track had seating for 8,000 spectators.
The racetrack was an immediate success. However, in July 1913, a serious
wreck brought notoriety to the lagoon. A driver lost control of his
motorcycle and veered off into the stands. The cycle hit a gas lamp
causing fire to spread throughout the grandstand. Panic set in as the
5,000 spectators tried to flee the fire. The result was horrific. Nine
people were killed and over a hundred were treated for burns.
July 1915, a large tornado ripped through Ludlow. Over $20,000.00 in
damage was done to the buildings in the park. The final event that spelled
doom for the park was the First World War. For many years, the Lagoon
served Bavarian Beer (Covington made) at various bars in the park. Grain,
however, was needed for the war effort, so the United States Government
halted the manufacturing of liquor and beer. The loss of alcohol sales
spelled doom for the park. The Lagoon Amusement Park closed after the
Part of the Lagoon property was developed as a residential neighborhood.
Parts of Lake Street, Laurel, Stokesay, Deverill, and Ludford were built
on the site of the former park. J.J. Weaver used the clubhouse for his
private residence. Eventually it was transformed into an apartment building.
The City of Ludlow utilized a portion of the property as a site for
an incinerator. Another portion of the site was utilized as a city refuse
1967, the Ludlow Realty Company sold the remaining Lagoon property to
Ludlow Development Enterprises Inc. (Carlisle Construction, King Wrecking
Co., et al). The purchase price was $28,000.00. At this time, the low-lying
areas began to be filled.
News Enterprise, June 29, 1967, p. 1; Ludlow Centennial Souvenir