Thursday, May 21, 2015

1910: When Lagoon was threatened with closure

AS the largest theme park in the Intermountain West, Utahns probably take Lagoon for granted – always been there, always will be.
However, Lagoon was seriously threatened with closure in its early years, just over a century ago, back in 1910.
By Lynn Arave

“May cut Lagoon into town lots” was an April 27, 1910 headline in the 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.’”

Lagoon did close during World War II, thanks to gas rationing and the war effort, in the 1943, 1944 and 1945 seasons.

Other historical tidbits:
-“Waiter threw eggs at customer” was a July 24, 1910 Standard headline. A man entered a downtown Ogden café in a big hurry, ordering hard-boiled eggs, and wanting to catch the next street car.
However, when the car came by, the man rushed out, just as the waiter came with the eggs. The waiter rushed out with the sack of eggs, also boarded the trolley and threw the eggs at the customer. He dodged the volley, but they hit another passenger in the back of the head.
“Dutch Henry,” the waiter, was charged with assault and battery by police.
-“Entertainment spoiled by bad behavior” was a Standard headline on April 4, 1909. Ogden High sophomores presented a play, “The Romancers” to a packed audience at the Fifth Ward Amusement Hall.
However, there apparently being no teachers or principals present, the schoolmates in the audience pelted the players with vegetables and fruit. They also belted out a chorus of cat calls.
The cast, featuring Leah Pardoe, Albert Moore, Fitch Kinney, Eugene Pratt, George Reeves, Eugene Carr and others, continued to perform as best they could.
-Two boys ordered to get out of town” was a June 25, 1909 Standard headline. Two boys were arrested for possessing a pair of allegedly stolen shoes. The boys claimed they found the shoes on a public lawn. The charges were dropped and the boys were ordered to get out of town, since chances for proving anything to the contrary were slim.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on May 21-22, 2015 by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-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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