The Midway at Luna Park 1915

Now it’s summer and American tradition suggests we take a trip to the amusement park. If our car could travel not only over the roads but also through time, we would point it back 100 years and take a spin out West Fourth Street to spend the afternoon at Luna Park.

1915 was a shining year in the first golden age of Mansfield’s summer fun park: the place was within its first decade of life and the paint was still fresh, the games were all novel, the laughs were all brand new.

Later on in the 1920s the place changed its character quite a bit, so this photo essay takes a look at the opening chapter of Luna Park and how it looked originally.

When Luna Park was founded there were already two key elements in full swing at North Lake that set the stage for a resort atmosphere: the Casino had opened in 1893 with stage shows and an ice cream parlor; and the White Maple dance hall started drawing crowds in 1904.

There were plenty of reasons for people to ride the streetcar out to the end of the line on Fourth Street, but the Mansfield Railway, Light & Power Company wanted to make the trip irresistible to kids and families. So they filled up the acreage between the theater and the dance hall with all the attractions of a full-fledged amusement park.

On the high ground next to the dance hall they built the figure-eight toboggan ride (roller coaster) and on the level ground beside the Casino and the pool was the area of midway attractions and the merry go round.


A hundred years ago the modest boulevard entering North Lake Park from Fourth Street was the gate to Luna Park, all located to the west (left) of the road.

Park Streetcars

The Casino streetcar came into the park from Fourth Street, the tracks running alongside what is today Westbrook Avenue and stopping near the front of the new pavilion. Summertime held the promise of open-air, breezy trolleys–seen below stopped in front of Luna Park.


This insurance map from 100 years ago shows the layout of Luna Park at that time. In later years Toby’s Run was rerouted, with the deep creekbed we know today, through the site of the Casino and the pool. Only one building pictured here survives today: at the corner of the designated Park Road and Not Named. At that time it was a restaurant.

An insurance map shows the layout of food stands located in the midway at Luna Park, as well as the various games where you could win a kewpie doll.

A large conical-roofed open-air pavilion at Luna Park served as a picnic and party shelter.
Built originally to house the Merry-go-Round it proved more useful for gatherings, so the carousel was placed outside, disassembled at the end of every summer season and stored in the lower back-barn area of the Casino (background right).

Seen below from left to right: the Funhouse, the pool, and the Casino.

The merry-go-round spins in and out of focus.

Looming in the background of most photo album pictures from early Luna Park is the roller coaster.

The swimming pool at Luna Park was fed directly from Toby’s Run and the water was so cold it had to be pretty hot outside for people to want to get in there. In the background is the rear of the Casino.

The food concession stand on the midway seen in these two images was operated by the Mansfield Pure Milk Company, who became very well known in later years throughout several states under the name: Isaly’s.

There were no seat belts on Mansfield’s first coaster, only comfy seats.

A hundred years ago, the North Lake consisted of three small connected lakes, one of which extended westward through today’s parking lots where a forlorn goose (below) wonders what happened to his lagoon. A terrific rainfall flooded the park in 1924 and filled this lake with gravel and silt.

Each of these two photos captures the very spot where the other was taken.

A hundred years ago there were plenty of ways to get out of Mansfield: on the train, on the interurban streetcars, by automobile… but who would want to leave when there was so much fun to be had on the edge of town?

This photograph, scanned from a glass negative, was taken from the tracks of he B&O Railroad… today known as the Richland B&O Trail.

At night it was a marvel to behold because the Mansfield Railway, Light & Power Company lit up the grounds with 10,000 light bulbs.


Images in this article come from the Mark Hertzler collection, Ohio Genealogical Society Richland County Chapter, Mansfield/Richland County Public Library Sherman Room, Marge Graham, Phil Stoodt, and Dee Hautzenroeder.

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