Friday, March 22, 2013

Lagoon Park’s Early Years – 1886-1942

                                                                              Photo from Lagoon's collection 
(NOTE: This is a condensed version of the book-length Lagoon history, also found on this same blog.)

By Lynn Arave

Most historic amusement parks (“theme parks” today) in the United States had their beginnings with trains. That is, they helped increase passenger traffic by having a special destination along the route. New York’s Coney Island built an accompanying rail line.
Utah’s Lagoon was no exception and yet it has a dual legacy. The other half involves water, a scarce commodity in a state like Utah, where the only state with less annual rainfall is Nevada.

Lake Park, a resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, began in 1886 and was the forerunner to today's  Lagoon.
Simon Bamberger was a part owner in the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (and would be famous over time as the fourth Governor of Utah and as the owner of the Bamberger Railroad and Lagoon).  

   The area in West Farmington today, where Lake Park used to be. No traces remain of the resort.

“Lake Park” was promoted as one of the “most attractive watering places in the west. It encompassed 215-acres. (1)
(However, note that the Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states that Lake Park began in 1874, when Dr. Peter Clinton built a three-story hotel at the lake’s edge. He later added bath houses and other attractions. This history also reports that it was Saltair’s arrival in 1893 that proved the demise of Lake Side more than the receding Great Salt Lake. Because, Saltair proved much more popular. (2))
   There were four different early Great Salt Lake resorts that had names using the word “Lake.” There was also Lake Point (southwest of Saltair), and Lake Side to the north of Lake Park and Lake Shore on the south side of Lake Park.
   Garfield, Black Rock and the Syracuse resort made for a total of eight Great Salt Lake resorts in the 1870s—1890s. Utahns in the late 1800s loved their Great Salt Lake, where they could float like a cork. This was their passion in the warm five or six months of the year.
   Lake Side, just north of Lake Park and Lake Point and south of Saltair, was the state’s first such lake resort, having starting in 1870. Black Rock began in 1876, Lake Shore in 1879, Black Rock in 1881, the Syracuse Resort in 1887 and Saltair in 1893.
 Surprisingly, only Lake Park and the youngest resort - Saltair - have survived in any form into modern times.

                                                                                 Photo from Lagoon's collection 

   Railroad magnate Simon Bamberger, later Utah’s first ever Democratic governor in 1917, built Lake Park to attract large crowds from Salt Lake County.
  He was a short and stocky man. Also, he was not Mormon, but rather a practicing Jew.
  Bamberger was well known for possessing an innate business sense, but also for his honesty and being a tireless civic worker. (2)   Bamberger was the resort’s vice president and also had owned 25  percent interest in the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, the actual company that built Lake Park.
Bamberger,  more well known by Utah residents for the “Bamberger” railroad than as the father of Lagoon, built an approximate two-mile spur line off the main D & R.G.W. line to
reach Lake Park Resort.
   Some 53,000 guests visited the park, located approximately two miles west of today’s Lagoon, in its first season.  Admission in those days was 50 cents. Swimming, dancing, boating, a merry-go-round pulled by a horse, target shooting,  roller skating and bowling were all included for that price. An extra half-dollar provided a full course meal at the resort’s restaurant. (3)
  For its premiere season, the resort had 15 dozen men’s and three dozen women’s swimming suits available for rent. To help prevent theft, “Lake Park Resort” was written across the front of the suits.
There were six trains a day, painted in a Tuscan red, going to Lake Park from Salt Lake City and three a day coming from Ogden.  A sailboating racing and a rowing club also had headquarters at Lake Park. (4)
   It also boasted of its open air dancing pavilion with finely carved archways and lattice.
  Summer cottages at the site were rented by the day or month. By one account, it even had a small Victorian style hotel and a string of cabins along the beach.
   The main pavilion was 3,600-square feet, flanked on the north by a restaurant, 30 X 60 feet in size and on the south by an equal sized saloon. On the west was a pier, about 150 feet in length.  Bath houses were north and south of the pier. The railroad passenger platform was on the east side of the large pavilion. (5) There were also a dozen round picnic houses, covered with green ivy, and having tables underneath them. (Thus, Lake Park/Lagoon was also renowned for its picnicking from its inception.)  Many Farmington residents would simply walk to Lake Park for a daily outing. Even in 1886, this was the” fun spot of Utah.” 
  Boat races and footraces were also popular events at Lake Park.
However, by 1895, the resort was suffering. The Great Salt Lake was still receding and now approaching its average, modern-time level of 4,200 feet above sea level.
  What was once the lake shore was now a sticky, blue-colored mud that shunned swimmers.  It would have required a walk through muddy and smelly salt flats of some one-third mile or more to reach the actual lake water. Then, it would have been another long
walk to reach water deep enough to swim.
  Bamberger decided to move the resort eastward.
  Although the receding Great Salt Lake was the primary reason for the move inland, some Farmington residents also believe it was because Bamberger wanted the resort closer to civilization.
  He purchased what was then some 40 acres of swampy farmland, where noisy bullfrogs roamed, from Farmington farmers for his new location in the mid 1890s. (Some reports refer to the Lagoon site as natural meadows). Bamberger had the land graded and the swamp excavated to make a four-foot-deep lake.
  Some accounts state it was actually two large ponds. In any event, the two lakes eventually became one large lake and also one that was larger than the one in use today - maybe almost twice as big. The frogs were sold as delicacies to Montana mining camps.
   Fish were planted therein and Bamberger  turned undesirable land into a fun spot. (6) Some 53 artesian wells were also dug. What Bamberger sought was "a family oriented park.
  Hundreds of trees and flowers were also planted at the site that was renamed Lagoon. Five of the old buildings were moved from Lake Park to what soon became called Lagoon.
  Others were torn down and lumber used for other projects.
 (None of those structures survive today, but Lake Park Terrace lasted longest, to 2004. The terrace was actually the dancing pavilion at Lake Park. It was designed by Richard Keitting. He also
designed Saltair and the Utah State Capitol Building. It was pegs, not nails that held such early structures made in 1800s together.)
  The park reopened as Lagoon on Sunday, July 12, 1896, almost exactly a decade after its original opening on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. That premiere was also two months later than
originally planned.
  “Lagoon is the name that has been given the new pleasure resort here in Farmington. It opened on Sunday last and was visited by quite a number of Salt Lake and local people,” the Davis County Clipper reported. However, there was a controversy on its opening
  “A little misunderstanding between the city officers and the bartender at Lagoon caused the city to lose $150,” the Clipper reported. “The resort people failed to take out a license
and the city officers went to hurry up matters a little when the Lagoon people got offended and moved all their goods over the line into the county and took out a county license.  The west line of the city runs through the centre (sic) of the barroom.” (7)
When Lagoon opened, it also meant another Davis County resort closed. Bamberger had built Eden Park, a pleasure garden in Bountiful, along the rail line in 1894. This three-acre park closed when Lagoon came along, so that the Bambergers could focus on
Lagoon. On July 24, Pioneer Day, 1896, Lagoon had 2,000 people at the resort.
  An estimated 1,500 were from Salt Lake City. Entrance fee was 25 cents a person that day.
  There was also a second controversy the month of Lagoon’s opening at its current location. The Salt Lake Herald newspaper was reported to have published an erroneous
article on negative aspects of  the resort. Lagoon believed that article cost the resort $10,000 in lost revenue. (8).
  A roundtrip railroad ticket ‘from Salt Lake or Ogden to Lagoon cost just 25 cents. In the early 1900s, this steam-powered train would stop at Lagoon two or three times daily.
  The last train would leave for Salt Lake at 7 p.m. In those days, the train was nicknamed, “The Old Dummy.”
  “Railroads and summer resorts. All are preparing for inevitable rush that comes Decoration Day. Out at Saltair and Lagoon” was a lengthy Deseret News headline in Mid-may of 1906.
  Eleven new 52-foot long railway coaches were put into service that year to handle the increased traffic. (9)
  When Lagoon reopened that first season, it had five primary buildings - A fun house, restaurant, a dance pavilion, a hotel and saloon. A “Shoot the Chutes” ride also opened then,  a forerunner of today’s log flume rides. This was Lagoon’s first thrill ride. (10)   This “Chute” ride involved some boat sleds that would slide down a 30-foot high incline -- powered by gravity -- into the lake.  A Rockets over the Lake ride followed in 1900.
   Another Davis County superlative also occurred at Lagoon in 1896, when the first moving pictures ever shown in the county premiered at Lagoon. Elegant dancing, bowling, fine
music, shady boweries and good restaurants were what Lagoon initially highlighted in its advertisements. (11)
  Soon a bathhouse was also built along side the lake, probably in 1900, when full-scale swimming started in the waters. In its heyday, some 5,000 swimmers daily on busy summer days used the lake to cool off.
  Boating and swimming were big daylight activities, along with picknicking, rollerskating, games and rides,  even some hot air balloons with a small cage offering room for one rider. At night, park goers would dance.
  There was also a scenic footbridge over a section of one of the lakes. Ducks were common in its waters. Because of its springs, the lakes never seemed to freeze over completely. A Salt Lake ice
company had been using an artesian well to create the lagoon lake starting in 1895. Three ice houses stored the ice. Blocks of ice were transported by railroad to Salt Lake City in the winter. During its operating season, Lagoon used some of its own ice too.
  At some time later, the two lakes became one smaller body of water. Some ice skating in winter was also reported in the early years. (12)
  One newspaper report in 1899 said dancing, boat racing and baseball were among Lagoon’s most popular activities. (13)
  On Labor Day in 1898, a mock military battle by some sort of local militia attracted an estimated 8,030 people to Lagoon – its largest crowd ever to that date. (14)
   “The Lagoon Road” was the nickname of the Bamberger rail line to Lagoon, as early as 1905 in numerous Deseret News advertisements for that year and several years to
come. In May of 1905, this Bamberger line was being improved and sixty pound steel rails were installed to make the line a regular full-size railroad line.
  “It will be like riding on a real railroad to go to the Lagoon this year as the old light 40-pound rails are being torn up and replaced with the heavier, 60-pound steel, which has been received from Pueblo at a cost of about $25,000.”A new, $17,000 dancing pavillon also opened that year at Lagoon. It consisted of a hard maple floor, 103 by 175 feet.
  “The Lagoon music shell was tested for the first time Saturday afternoon and evening, with an orchestra of eight Musicians with a success that far exceeded the most sanguine
anticipations of the constructors,” was a newspaper report that spring. (15)
  Lagoon was a marketing delight in the early 1900s as almost every organization of any size in northern Utah scheduled its own special day at the park.
  June 8, 1905 was the Salt Lake Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, special Lagoon day.
  (Many seem to erroneously believe that stake Lagoon days are a modern invention, created by a greedy, modern Lagoon. But the fact is that stake Lagoon Days date back more than a century.)
In 1905, even wards, like the Salt Lake 16th and 17th Wards had a special combined Lagoon Day on June 16. Some LDS Church Sunday Schools and M.I.A. groups also  scheduled Lagoon
days in that era.
   But special Lagoon days were not limited to the LDS Church.
The Methodist Church Sunday School had their own day on June 30, 1905. The Swedish Brotherhood, the Boiler Makers and Machinists, the Miners Union, Davis County Public
Schools and the ZCMI shoe factory all had special Lagoon Days in June of 1905.
  The University of Utah Track team even staged a meet at Lagoon on June 3, 1905. (16)
  How popular were stake Lagoon days in their early years? The Jordan Stake day on July 13, 1906 used two trains and carried an estimated 2,500 people to the resort.
  Entertainment especially for the stake’s “old folks,” about 400 “silvery haired veterans,  was considered a highlight of the day and there was a banquet for the seniors too. (17)
   Lagoon was a hit as a reunion/gathering place right from the beginning. For example, on July 19, 1897, Lagoon hosted a reunion of returned Mormon missionaries who served in the Pacific Islands. President Joseph F. Smith, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  attended this event that included the roasting of several hogs.
   This reunion included 114 returned missionaries and 34 natives from the islands. A repetition of the Lord’s prayer was given in four different Pacific Island languages at the
event. In August of 1906, this reunion attracted a record crowd of 9,000 people to Lagoon. (18)
   An “Old Folk’s Day” was also another popular annual event at the resort. One such event
was held there on June 25, 1907. Any resident of Davis County over age 70 was invited for free to be Lagoon’s guests at the event. Pot roast beef, boiled ham, mutton, all kinds of cake and
lemonade were comprised the menu at the Old Folks’ Day. (19)
   Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was considered the opening day at Lagoon. In 1906, the “great annual bicycle race” started at 10 a.m. and it could be watched from the Lagoon observation train. There was also a new restaurant, roller skating and an enlarged orchestra that season. A shady spot with a lake, dancing, sports and other amusements made Lagoon a haven for residents of that era.
   Baseball was also a big pastime at Lagoon and in 1906, a game with the University of Utah team vs. the Davis County team was played.

Lagoon has also had some very weird happenings over the decades.
How about a foreign spy and a bomb plot?
“Dancing master proves to be spy; Man who taught dancing at The Lagoon tried to blow up pavilion on Soldiers’ Day,” was the headline in the Sept, 7, 1917 Davis County Clipper.
“The professor who had been teaching dancing at Lagoon has turned out to be a German spy,” that article stated.
The bomb didn't off, but if it did, dozens could have been killed, or injured.
It was reported that the professor disappeared, but was later captured and imprisoned in the prisoner’s camp at Fort Douglas.
The newspaper stated that rumors were also circulating that the spy had already been convicted and executed.
The article also reported that another German, who had been living with a family in Centerville, had also been arrested as a spy and sent to Fort Douglas.
   Lagoon’s swimming and dancing were controversial from about 1896-1920.
   Local Mormon leaders weren’t convinced there wasn’t a moral danger to young men and
young women swimming in bathing suits that became more scantily clad each decade.
   In 1920, one group of concerned Davis County residents got Farmington City to purchase building materials and then with donated labor, dressing rooms were re-built at the
abandoned Lake Side resport. It was felt that isolated from commercial influences, these private cubicles would foster a community bathing atmosphere.
   But the private resort likely closed soon after for lack of support. Amusement rides were rare at Lagoon in its early days. Bowling, wrestling, roller skating and dancing were much more popular then.
In 1906, the hand-carved carousel arrived at Lagoon, a ride that’s still in use today. It
originally cost $2,000 and featured 47 hand-carved horses. The original ride was operated by a young boy who was paid just 25 cents week. A thick canvass covered the boy and horse so they were essentially hidden by the riders.
  “Shoot the chutes. They are now running at Lagoon Have you tried them? Splendid restaurant service, dancing, roller skating and rowing. It never grows hot at Lagoon and the people are flocking out in great throngs this year.” That’s what a 1906 newspaper ad said about Lagoon.
   By 1906, trains weren’t the only way to travel to Lagoon. Automobiles were on the roads, dirt, dusty or muddy as they were. That was the year that Lagoon opened a special garage to accommodate cars. Autos had a bad reputation in this day. City councils and police had harsh laws that automobile owners believed discriminated against them.
   “Now however the sentiment is changing and public notice has been taken out of the auto car in at least one place. This is at Lagoon where the people who come in automobiles
hereafter will be just as welcome to spend their money as those who come on the trains. ”But this special treatment came at a price. Those who operated this new garage for cars hoped to sell the car owners popcorn, trout, or a chicken dinner too. (20)
   The Fourth of July was a special day at Lagoon.
  “Something to keep you busy all the time at Lagoon,” an advertisement in the Deseret News stated in early July 1906.
 “For the old man who hates the noise, there is fishing ….. For the young man and maiden,
the dancing floor was made perfect ... For the children the grove was planted, making ‘the
prettiest spot in Utah’ also the best playground … the flowers are in bloom ... The family will want to Shoot-the-Chutes and sample a trout dinner at the restaurant. Appointments perfect.” (21)
   The Bamberger rail line was electrified in 1910, ending the need for steam locomotives. (22)
   Lagoon has also a small railroad engine — No. 999 — that originally traveled up through the park and around the grandstand, starting in 1906. It passed by some beautifully painted murals. However, its route was soon changed toward and around a part of the lake.
   That’s because its noise disturbed many of the programs. Lagoon was starting to look more and more like an amusement park, rather than a resort. But it would be another 15 years before the familiar wooden roller coaster would arrive.
Surprisingly, Lagoon was seriously threatened with closure in its early years, 1910.
“May cut Lagoon into town lots” was an April 27, 1910 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
“’If Lagoon cannot be made to pay with the railroad fare at 50 cents the roundtrip , I will cut the resort up into town lots and sell it,’ said Simon Bamberger, president and general manager of the ‘Lagoon route,’’ this morning,” The Standard story stated.
 “’The fare to Lagoon will be 50 cents this year, he continued. ‘And it will remain at 50 cents for the round trip as long as I own the controlling interest in the road (the railroad line).”’
Bamberger, consider the father of Lagoon, established the resort to draw passengers to his railroad. He was solidly against the train fare being reduced for just Lagoon’s sake, for a business that is open only three months of the year. Railroad traffic was increasing between Salt Lake and Ogden for the sake of other, year-round businesses.
“’I might put it this way,’” Bamberger said. “We are not going to let the ‘tail wag the dog.’ In this case Lagoon is the tail, and I don’t propose that it shall wag the road.’”
In a few weeks Bamberger’s railroad line was also set to be made electric, another advancement in its operation.

Bamberger continued his lecture: “’We think that Lagoon is a beautiful resort, one of the finest, if not the finest in the state. We would like to see it a success. Not only the coming summer, but in many seasons yet to come, but we are not going to try to make it a success at the expense of the rest of the business of the road. If people wish to visit the resort at the added cost, we will be glad to do all in our power to make their visits pleasant. If they do not care to come we will do something else with the resort, but we will not reduce the railroad fare.’”
    Farmington resident Milton Hess was hired by Lagoon to build a race track at the park. (Hess also built many other Lagoon rides, including the Shoot the Chutes, the Fun House and many midway games shacks and buildings. The race track was completed in 1911 at a cost of $75,000. This doubled the size of Lagoon, adding another 40 acres, complete with grandstands and a large barn.
   Race horses came from all over the world. Racing continued ‘for just two seasons until an act of the Utah State Legislature made such horse racing illegal in 1913. (23)
   The popular racetrack, though short-lived, apparently had world renown. (Horse racing returned to Lagoon in 1925 when parimutuel betting system was allowed for a few seasons until it too faded away.)
   Lagoon was also leased out by the Bambergers. For example, it was leased to the Amusement Concessions Company from 1918—1927.
   The early days of Lagoon are also filled with fanciful stories. One of these involves  an  old canon that the Mormon Pioneers hauled across the plains. It was taken to Lagoon and fired for special occasions. One such holiday, some boys had loaded rocks in the canon and blew off part of Lagoon’s skating rink. (24)
  The cannon was called “the old sow”’ and it was fired at sunrise for some summer holidays, as well as the start of evening fireworks on the Fourth of July.
   (That historic cannon later disappeared. It was found sometime later buried in the bank of the Lagoon lake. The cannon was then mounted on wheels and given to Farmington City. (25)
   On one Fourth or 24th of July, a hard south wind came up and blew some cannon sparks four blocks away, passing over several barns filled with hay. It ended up catching the roof of
the home of Mormon Apostle John W. Taylor on fire. This house was at the time being rented by Andy Christensen, who also had a five-year lease on Lagoon’s operation then. The fire department arrived in time to put the fire out after only a small hole was in the roof. (26).
   Bicycle races from Salt Lake to Lagoon were also popular on Memorial Day in the park’s early days. A trail would parallel the race to offer spectators a good view. Baseball games were also played on a field at Lagoon in its early years.
   Early train cars to the park were often open ones. Sometimes, sparks from the train’s wheels would burn holes in the clothes of riders. Some cars were completely full by the time they reached Lagoon. (27)
   Lagoon also had an early zoo with monkeys and some other animals. One Sunday’s entertainment featured a large lion. Its trainer would put his head inside it mouth and thrill
the audience. Then, the lion would spit at the crowd. (28) (Some legends say the trainer lost his head to the lion at Lagoon, but history books say otherwise. (29)
   Still another legend states that a boy was left in charge of the zoo’s monkeys. He left them in the greenhouse too long and an angry monkey bit off the boy’s finger. However, the “boy” thing is probably just a legend. Farmington City history states that it was a man, Charles Boylin, who was in charge of the monkeys and who had his finger bitten off. (30)

  After the demise of horse racing in 1913, it was another eight years before another big attraction arrived at Lagoon. This was the wooden roller coaster, the park’s second—oldest
ride and still one of the most popular rides.
   The roller coaster was designed by John Miller, the same inventor who made the coasters at Coney Island.
  The ride was 45 feet high, 2,500 feet long and reached a maximum speed of 45 mph.
   This “Giant Coaster,” a preliminary version of today’s wooden Roller Coaster was built in 1921, probably as a way to keep pace with rival  Saltair.
 Lagoon's wooden roller coaster is its second-oldest ride, behind the Carousel. The coaster, originally known as the "Dipper," opened in 1921.
 However, the Davis County Clipper newspaper of May 8, 1905, reported that the "dipper coaster" was to have arrived that spring. It was being promoted as "the only attraction of the kind west of Chicago."
  The wooden roller coaster didn't arrive for another 16 years, though. It was both costly and hard to obtain.
 The Clipper newspaper of May 27, 1921 stated that the "Lagoon Dipper" was now open. Its cost was $75,000 (almost $1 million in 2017 dollar value) and it was built by a Colorado Company. Also, it was similar to the wooden roller coaster at a rival resort, Saltair.
 (For the same 1921 season, Lagoon had also moved the "Shoot-The Chutes" ride slightly as the pond had been enlarged.
 An advertisement in the Utah Daily Chronicle of May 27, 1921, called Lagoon "Utah's greatest pleasure resort" and the "Coney Island of the West." The ad also referred to the Lagoon Dipper "as the wildest ride you ever took."
 The Bamberger Railroad offered rides to Lagoon every hour for just 35 cents a roundtrip. Also, a paved highway to Lagoon was now in place and auto parking at Lagoon was 50 cents (so a charge for parking at Lagoon goes back almost a century.) There was room to park up to 1,000 autos.
 The Salt Lake Telegram of May 27, 1921 said of the new roller coaster and Lagoon:
 "Among the important new features that will be found is the 'Lagoon Dipper,' a giant roller coaster that is said to be the largest in the United States, and while full of thrills from start to finish, is as safe as a rocking chair."
  Lagoon also boasted of an artificial white sand beach in that era, titled "Walkiki Beach," as well as "Witzell's Jazz Band." Fresh water is what Lagoon also stressed (as compared to the briny waters at its competitor, Saltair.)
   Sadly, Lagoon's claim of its roller coaster being as "safe as a rocking chair" didn't last but just over three years. On July 26, 1924, George Burt of Ogden was riding in the coaster's front car, obviously leaning forward (if not standing up), when he lost his balance and fell forward in front of the coaster. He was dragged for 50 feet and then fell 20 feet down to his death.

  (-Note that Saltair's "Giant Racer" wooden roller coaster had opened much earlier than Lagoon's, way back in 1893. The coaster was improved in 1916-1919 and was 110 feet high. The ride blew down in 1957 during a wind storm and was never rebuilt.)
   Lagoon’s “water fit to drink” swimming pool arrived in 1921, complete with a cement bottom. This million-gallon pool would remain for five and a half decades.

                                                                                 Photo from Lagoon's collection 

The 1922 season at Lagoon featured an army of porters in the parking lot, who would provide every protection and facility in the 20-acre lot for no extra cost, according to the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper of April 30, 1922.
The railroad fare to Lagoon, which featured Lagoon admission too, was just 35 cents a person.
Since dancing was prohibited on Sundays in Farmington by law, Lagoon provided a band and vaudeville features instead then.
Carloads to new sand were also added to its “Waikiki Beach” that season. Nighttime beach going was new in the 1922 season, as well as some Hawaiian musicians.
In the works too, was a “Sunken Garden,” at Lagoon, much like the famous attraction in Pasadena, Calif.
Fireworks and a free matinee dance were hallmarks of Lagoon’s 1924 season, according to the Telegram of June 29, 1924.

Lagoon had also added a “baby bank.” This not only offered baby buggie rentals, but child care in the capable hands of attendants.
  The Farmington Park had a scare during the spring of 1927, when heavy flooding threatened the park. However, there was very little damage.
  The competitive battle with Lagoon and Saltair heated up in the mid-1920s.
  Saltair was reeling from a spring 1925 fire, that caused $500,000 in damages, with only $125,000 being covered by insurance. Saltair reopened almost three months after the fire on July 1 for a
short season. Meanwhile, Lagoon had been advertising it had a bigger, prettier and a more thrilling park than before.
   For July Fourth, a Salt Lake Tribune newspaper ad touted Lagoon as having 3,000 parking spaces, matinee and evening dancing, swimming, fireworks, concessions and picniking.
   “The ideal outing place, the coolest place in Utah, the fun place for all," the summer Lagoon ads stated. Lagoon liked to brag about its filtered, fit-to-drink water, its flowers, grass and
   Other new rides/attractions were in place by 1929. They included: the first version of the fun house, the Lagoon Dipper, the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Aeroplane Swing. The “Shootthe Chutes” and the
“Rockets” continued to operate.
  During the 1930s, Lagoon’s popularity increased, while Saltair wained. Partly the blame was because people could drive to the south shore of the Great Salt Lake then, so why pay to take a train to Saltair? Also, the lake level was dropping and Saltair was
no longer sitting right at the shoreline.
  On Saltair’s opening season day in 1930, it had 10,000 patrons. On Labor Day of 1930, Lagoon attracted 15,000.
   By 1929, during the Great Depression, attractions at Lagoon included the Fun House, the Lagoon Dipper (wooden coaster), Tilt-a-Whirl (the park’s third oldest ride), the Aeroplane
Swing, Rockets, the Carousel and the Shoot-the-Chutes was also still going.
    It would another 11 years before the Dodgem ride came along in 1940.
   The 1930s and 1940s were the Big Band era. Orchestras like Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Glenn Miller played Lagoon in those days.(32)
Milton M. Hess, who had built Lagoon’s racetrack, was wooed back to the park in 1928 as a caretaker and handy man. The Bamberger’s wanted he and his family to live on-site at
   An old house that had been moved from Lake Park became the family’s home. It featured three bedrooms and a small kitchen for the family of six.
  The Hess family lived at Lagoon for 19 years. Mrs. Hess said it was indeed a noisy place in the summers, but the rest of the year was very pleasant. (33)
  Few rides came after that, likely an aftermath of the Great Depression and the impending World War II. The lone new ride for 18 years was the “Dodg’em” in 1940, a bumper car ride
loved especially by teens.
  With gas rationing and other shortages, Lagoon closed during much of World War II. The Bambergers were also likely too busy operating the train during the war, to be running an amusement park.
   The Hess’ described this period as when Lagoon seemed more like a graveyard than an amusement park. (34)
  It would not be until after World War II that Lagoon would reopen under new management and begin to resemble the theme park that exists today.

(NOTE: For a full Lagoon history, find the Complete Lagoon history, also listed on this blog.)

1. “A Capsule History of Lagoon,” Press release material written by Lagoon in 1997.
2.  “Bamberger was renowned for fairness, honesty,” by Twila Van Leer, Deseret News, March
5, 1996, page B1.
6. Op cit, Deseret News, page B6.
7. Op cit, McCormick, pp. 13-14. Also, Salt Lake Tribune, 23 July 1886.
8. Utah History Encyclopedia,” edited by Allan Kent Powell, University of Utah Press, 1974,
pp. 31-32. Also, the Salt Lake Herald, July 29, 1886.
9. “Lagoon a Century of Fun,” by Ivan Lincoln, Deseret News, May 8, 1987, page W1. Also,
“A History of Davis County,” Utah Centennial County --39-
10. History Series, by Glen M. Leonard, 1999, pp. 297-303.
11. “Farmington Fractions,” Davis County Clipper, 17 July 1896.
11. “Farmington Fractions,” Davis County Clipper, 31 July 1896.
12. “My Farmington 1847-1976,” by Margaret Steed Hess, Daughters of13. Utah Pioneers, pp. 379-390.
14. Op cit, Powell, pp. 31-32.
15. Op cit, Deseret News, p. B6. Also, “Bamberger Line Being Improved,” Deseret News, May
10, 1905.
16. “Farmington Fractions,” Davis County Clipper, 2 June 1899.
17. “Farmington Fractions,” Davis County Clipper, 9 Sept. 1898.
18. “Local briefs,” Deseret News, May 30, 1905.
19. “At Lagoon Season opens with heavy excursion bookings for June,” Deseret News, May
29, 1905.
20. “Local briefs,” Deseret News, July 13, 1905.
21. “Reunion at Lagoon,” Davis County Clipper, 23 July 1897. Also “Lagoon thronged by
Island Folk,” Deseret News, Aug. 9, 1906
22. “History of Davis County,” by Glen Leonard, pp.297-303.
23. “Old Folk’s Day at Lagoon,” Davis County Clipper, 21 June 1907. Also Deseret News,
June 21, 1906.
24. “May Rest at Lagoon,” Deseret News, July 7, 1906, page 28.
25. “Bamberger was renowned for fairness, honesty,” by Twila Van Leer, Deseret News,
March 5, 1996, page B1.
26. Op cit, “My Farmington,” pp. 379-391.
27. A Brief History of Farmington,” by George Quincy Knowlton, Isle Printing, 1965.
28. Op cit, “My Farmington,” pp. 379-391.
29. “East of Antelope Island,” Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1961, Carr Printing, pp. 449,
30. Op cit, Hess, page 381.
31 .Op cit, Knowlton, pp. 26-27. Also, “Utah Centennial 1896-1996,” edited by Allan Kent
Powell. University of Utah Press, 1995, page 312.
32. Saltair,” by Nancy D. McCormick and John S. McCormick, University of Utah Press, 1985,
pp. 53-56, 67, 71, and 73.
33. Lagoon Corporation publicity materials given to media in 1995.34. “My Farmington,” by Margaret Steed Hess, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1976, pp. 379-
34. Lagoon Press release from 1947, residing in the Deseret Morning News’ subject

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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