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The Story Behind This 130-Year-Old Amusement Park In Utah Will Make You Feel Nostalgic

These days, we’re used to seeing the flashy lights and tall steel tracks of roller coasters intended to scare you half to death. While the adrenaline rush is definitely fun for the thrill-seekers, there is something special about an old fashioned amusement park. Lagoon, located in Farmington, Utah, is celebrating its 130th birthday this year, and this wonderful park has managed to strike the perfect balance between the classic carnival features and modern feats of engineering.

Lagoon was originally part of the Lake Park Resort on the Great Salt Lake, which opened in 1886. The water level of the lake fell dramatically over the following decade, so the park was picked up and moved to Farmington in 1896 by then-Governor Simon Bamberger. In the midst of the construction of the Salt Lake & Ogden Railroad, Lagoon’s new location made it the perfect mini-getaway and increased traffic on the new railway.

Back in those days, the modern marvels we see in amusement parks today were far from invention, so the main attractions included a music and dancing pavilion, bowling, and swimming and rowing on the lake. Lagoon is now home to 53 rides and 10 roller coasters, but the very first thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, was opened in 1899. One of the most incredible historic rides is the hand-carved Herschell-Spillman Carousel, which was built in 1893 and added to the park in 1906. Very few of these wooden carousels have survived, so this one is a special treat. The “White” roller coaster is still a popular attraction today; it was built by John Miller – the man responsible for many of the famous Coney Island rides – in 1921. The wooden ride was partially destroyed by a fire in 1953, but has since been restored. Today, Lagoon has nine steel coasters built after 1976, so the thrill ride technology has expanded into this hidden gem over the decades, but the park has never lost its old-school appeal.

One of the most amazing pieces of Lagoon’s history is that it is, and has always been, a family-operated park. It fell into disrepair and closed briefly during World War II; however Robert E. Freed saved Lagoon from permanent closure by taking the land lease from the Bamberger family in 1946 and purchasing the entire park outright in 1983. The Freed family still owns and operates Lagoon to this day.

Three of the rides at Lagoon have been added to the National Historic Registry, and these traditional treasures now stand between some impressive modern roller coasters, which makes this park truly unique. You will find classic Midway games, a fun house, ferris wheel, and all your favorite fair attractions, but the history here creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that you simply won’t find anywhere else!

This wonderful peek into the history of Lagoon was created by Braeden Freeland and shared on YouTube by In The Loop. Check out the channel to see tons of other amazing videos about the coolest roller coasters in the world!

Meg Archer
Meg is the Contributions & Creative Content Editor for OnlyInYourState. She works in source research, concept development, and business outreach. Meg enjoys playing with her food (cooking), writing furiously (at inconvenient moments), and exploring (everything and everywhere).