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Photo TR: The Haunting of Conneaut Lake


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It’s been awhile, a couple years maybe, since I posted an amusement park TR on TPR. Why? Several reasons, one of which is that I rarely feel I can contribute more than what is already being said about the parks I visit. For instance, one of the three parks I visited last weekend was Waldameer. Currently, there are not one, not two, but three Waldameer topics on the first page of the forum alone. Sure, I could make it four… but how many pictures of Ravine Flyer II and the Whacky Shack can you look at before you don’t care anymore?

 

But Conneaut Lake is… different. It’s not too far away from several popular Pennsylvania and Ohio parks, yet it doesn’t seem to get anywhere near the traffic as, say Kennywood or Cedar Point. Most of the attention it gets on TPR and other sites is more about whether or not it will survive another season rather than what the park has to offer. The last full TR I could find on it is just over a year old. The last one before that is from about five years ago. So today, I take you on a virtual visit to Conneaut Lake Park. And I do it my way. Enjoy!

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Each year, thousands of people visit picturesque Conneaut Lake, PA. Here, they enjoy the historic Hotel Conneaut.

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They peruse the memorial boardwalk.

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They partake of the local cuisine.

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They frolic on the beautiful lakeshore beach.

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They gather for outdoor concerts.

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They cruise aboard the Kaylee Belle.

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But just beyond this luxurious vacation paradise lies a much more sinister realm, allegedly haunted by spirits from beyond. Spirits… who are unhappy when the living invade their hallowed grounds.

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This… is Conneaut Lake Park.

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Opened in 1892, the park served as a source of pleasure for generations of vacationers and locals alike, a place where, for just a few dollars, visitors could enjoy a carefree day of mirth and amusement.

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But by 2013, strange and unusual things began to take place. Some who came to visit the park… never left.

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The unsolved disappearances of several guests forced the struggling park to close its doors for good.

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Today, a brave few still dare to enter Conneaut Lake Park. Some are urban explorers, seeking to photograph the remnants of a once thriving paradise for children and thrill seekers alike. Others come to discover the truth. Did those missing guests go missing for a reason? Were they abducted? Or were there darker forces at work? Today, we attempt to uncover the mystery on… “Ghost Hunters: Conneaut Lake.”

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Flags no longer fly from these flagpoles at the entrance to Conneaut Lake Park.

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The ticket booths stand empty.

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There is no life except the malaria-carrying mosquitoes circling this infested pond… and us.

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We’re here to find the truth… and we’re going in!

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Signage throughout the area has fallen into disrepair, causing confusion and disorientation. We’re going to have to figure out navigation for ourselves.

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The truth… or just discarded Christmas decorations? Did the spirits put those there, or did interference from the mortal world place these objects into temporary storage? We may never know.

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Rides throughout the park have mysteriously vanished since its closing.

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Others remain inoperable.

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The elements have taken their toll on the once loved rides at Conneaut Lake.

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Suddenly, the Paratrooper starts without warning! Ghostly laughter fills the park!

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We make our getaway to Park Avenue, a sad and forgotten section of Conneaut Lake.

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Here, the former Tumble Bug no longer runs.

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The Music Express is slowly fading into a ghostly form.

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The bumper cars bump no more.

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All that remains is the 2-by-4 that once measured riders’ heights… and disciplined those who were too short to partake in the attraction. Could it be their tortured souls that now haunt this beloved former amusement park?

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Spectral carousel music emanates from this building. We check it out.

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Stately carved horses hold their pose and await riders that will never again come.

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A carousel panel celebrates the park’s happier days.

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The rings have vanished along with the joyful squeals of happy children that once inhabited this special place.

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The water slides are all dry now.

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However, you can still get splashed in the rest rooms.

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Could this be the entrance to the fabled…

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...ghost train?

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The entrance to hell! Could this be where the spirits are coming from?

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Is that gum… or the spirits of a thousand restless souls, trapped in gum form?

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And suddenly, we see our first spectre! We make another hasty escape.

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We’ll be safe in Mouse the Clown’s Kiddieland.

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Apparently the spirits feed not only on human flesh, but on plywood otters.

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Here, too, the rides remain silent and abandoned.

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Some are as creepy as the ghosts that now call this place home.

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I have one of these! Only mine’s not quite so… haunted.

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Never more will these once popular attractions cause moments of bliss.

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More ghostly music emanates from this smaller carousel building.

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Once more we investigate.

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Our tickets are no longer valid.

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Our spirits have a sense of humor… but what’s that just beyond the jet ride?

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It’s the park’s abandoned pony track. Suddenly, hoofbeats become audible!

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Could it be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, come to sever our souls? We don’t stick around to find out.

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Is that the spirit of a former Kiddieland worker, manifesting itself on the Little Dipper platform?

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It must be, for all at once the coaster begins to move!

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We run for safety… but instead we come face to face with the devil himself, mocking us from high above his hellish perch!

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His eyeless minions stare into our very souls. That’s when we notice…

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…this! What appears to be a harmless carousel decoration turns out to be…

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…a gravestone for a former Conneaut Lake Park employee! Possibly the one that tried to abduct our very beings from the Little Dipper platform!

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We witness more ghostly destruction all around us as we run for our lives!

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The Witch’s Stew provides little comfort as we make our way toward the midway… and what we hope will be holy ground.

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The desertedness of the abandoned park is once again apparent as we find what we hope is safety among the dusty grounds.

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There are no sign of spirits at the old Log Cabin Gift Shop. The only “ghosts” we see are the eerie lights cast from the 1990s-era video games inside.

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Rotting buildings and posts line the otherwise barren landscape.

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A few flags still fly from their posts, a reminder of days when the park thrived.

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Midway games remain abandoned, just the way employees left them when the park was hastily evacuated on its very last day of operation.

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The final “ride” constructed at the park… the Haunted Hostile. But is it… really haunted?

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Suddenly, picnic tables begin stacking themselves in front of the ride’s entrance as if moved by an unseen force! The message is clear: We shall not pass.

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Devil worship! So this is how the spirits made their way into the park… they were invited!

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Meanwhile, portions of the Toboggan begin to disappear into the ghostly realm.

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Most of the Roundup is already gone.

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All at once, the spirits send us a clear sign. We are to leave immediately… and wash our hands.

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But not before we find… the back entrance to hell! Be gone, demon spawn!

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And then we find it… the entrance to the fabled Blue Streak roller coaster. We assume it to be a safe haven, as the spectres have not yet begun to sink their demon fangs into this otter.

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For three-quarters of a century, the Blue Streak was the signature ride at this beloved park.

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Today it sits abandoned, a shrine to happier times.

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Rest in peace, old friend.

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Eventually, the ghostly howling stops, and we dare to exit this sanctuary from the damned. If only we could have ridden it. If only we had come to Conneaut Lake sooner. If only we were not… too late!

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And then all become clear. The devil clown is… mechanical? It’s a setup! Mortals are afoot…

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…and riding the Trabant!

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We’re not too late after all! We quickly purchase our tickets…

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…and get our Blue Streak credit! As for those two missing persons?

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It turns out they just eloped! Join us next time as we seek to discover… the truth behind the haunted hot dogs of Chicago (or something like that).

 

Honestly, CLP was a nice little park, full of friendly employees (some of whom, upon seeing me taking pictures, offered to run rides for me so I could capture them “in action”) and a nice atmosphere. It could use some TLC and a LOT more patronage. I was there for two hours on a Saturday and, not including employees, saw fewer than three dozen people. I really hope it pulls through.

 

That said, there’s a reason I decided to ride the Blue Streak this year instead of waiting one more season. If anyone out there is still hoping to get the credit, I’d say sooner is probably better than later.

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And so as not to end this TR on a “downer”… here’s a picture from later in the day at Waldameer that I like to call “Pirate’s Gold” or “X Marks the Spot.” That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

Edited by printersdevil78
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Thanks, everyone! To clarify, a lot of the "rides not operating" lines in the TR were for the purposes of dramatization. The actual attractions that were down were the Tilt-A-Whirl, train, Tumble Bug, Music Express, Pony Track, Haunted Hostile (which may be seasonal?), water rides (it may have been too early in the year for them), and Toboggan and Roundup (which have been out of commission for some time and aren't even located in the actual park but in a field near the beach). Everything else was up and running, though the kiddie rides did have rotating operators. Miniature golf also was open, but the one picture I had of it included several people walking by, which didn't really jibe with the whole "this park is deserted and haunted" theme I was going for.

 

As for the current status of the park, my understanding is that it is expected to continue operating at least through the end of the summer. There has been a proposal that would "save" it (or at least delay the tax sale) through some sort of ownership/management shift, but there's nothing binding at this point. In my opinion, if you want to make sure you get the Blue Streak and CLP credit, the best course of action would be to hope for the best, plan for the worst and get there this season.

 

Edited to add: Also, there was a crew working on the Tumble Bug while I was there, so hopefully it will be up and running again soon. It would be a nice historical component to add back into the park.

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The park is doing well, Opening weekend had a decent turnout. This weekend wasn't that great but there was a LOT of graduation parties to contend with so it was expected to be slow. That and the weather was total crap sunday forcing a early closure. Next weekend is also community weekend with $5 wristbands which will really pack in the crowds like it always does.

 

The train and tilt n hurl should be up and running by next weekend. A new engine and transmission has been installed in the train at considerable cost of both $$$ and man hours.

 

The bug had a minor problem saturday that was being worked on tirelessly and to my knowledge is back in action. The music express is waiting on hydraulic parts which are very expensive but it is expected to run this season.

 

In short, the park is open and surviving. As of now there is no impending closure and Adams Amusements has no intention of leaving the park anytime soon. Improvements are being made as much as possible, though they may not always be visible to guests. Keep the faith, CLP is here to stay like it always has been.

 

If anyone is at the park next saturday say hi to the goofball wearing the security hat. I don't bite too hard.

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I enjoyed a few hours at the park last year. Blue Streak was fun (just stay away from the backseat), as were Devil's Den and the carousel. Heck, we even rode the Flyers.

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HUGE fan of CLP here. It's just a great, classic park (no frills). I know it's quirkiness is not for everybody, but personally, I happen to enjoy it's "odd" charm and old-world sensibilities.

 

I also always make it a point to stay at the Hotel Conneaut. One could certainly do better/cheaper/nicer elsewhere, but again, it's part of that old-world charm. And I think it adds to the park experience as a whole.

 

While there in 1992, my sister had a "real life" ghost encounter during our stay at the Hotel. No joke! I always passed off the "haunted" rumours as rubbish ... until that day. Now, I'm a believer.

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I enjoyed a few hours at the park last year. Blue Streak was fun (just stay away from the backseat)...

Second-to-last row is where it's at.

 

One thing though - Blue Streak is missing a car on its train! I hope that's not because they can't run the fourth car anymore. All four cars just got completely re-upholstered at the end of last year!

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water rides (it may have been too early in the year for them)

 

In the last four or five times I have gone, I have never seen the water slide tower open. Of course, a couple of those times were when it was practically snowing out (it was sleeting when we rode BS) so that would explain that, but even in the summer I have not seen them open.

 

I think that they are like the Round-Up and Toboggan at the front of the park - SBNO. I'm surprised that they have not removed them from the park, but perhaps it would cost too much?

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The water park has been the source of much debate in the past couple years. The cliffs notes are that it is in very bad shape and hasn't operated since at least 2006. There was much vandalism in the years the park didn't open and it has been estimated that rebuilding the whole water area from the ground up would be almost the same as getting the existing one operable. It is unlikely it will ever reopen.

 

The toboggan I don't know much about except that it was supposed to be removed last season but that obviously never happened. All of the parts for the Round Up are in storage with the exception of the hydraulic clutch system which was lost in the ballroom fire. Replacements are available but are very expensive. Its on the list as money becomes available.

 

The missing car of the blue streak is currently being rebuilt from the ground up and will eventually be added back on.

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The missing car of the blue streak is currently being rebuilt from the ground up and will eventually be added back on.

Awesome. The fourth car absolutely makes that coaster. It's wonderfully terrifying.

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Great report, Jason!

 

I loved this park primarily because of the people there doing everything they could to keep a friendly and welcoming attitude, despite the sensation of eeriness that you can't help but get as soon as you walk in.

 

Blue Streak in the last row was fantastic, if terrifying, over the first drop.

 

I understand that what happened with the board being ousted last week is a positive first step in guiding the park toward some sort of stability. Fingers crossed.

 

I'd still love to try out one of their "Ghost Weekends" at the hotel in February, for entertainment purposes only

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