On March 3, 1906, in the Harrisburg Telegraph, it was reported that 22 new corporations had been chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Department. At the bottom of the list was a company valued at $100,000 (approximately $2.6 million in 2017 US dollars): West View Park Company, Pittsburg. (This was during the time Pittsburgh was spelled without the ending “h.”) F.W. Henninger was listed as the representative of the company.
Several days later, stockholders of the West View Park Company elected its officers. T.M. Harton was named president; O.C. MacKalip, vice president; F.W. Henninger, secretary and treasurer. The first board of directors were: T.M. Harton, L.T. Yoder, W.D. Johnston, E.D. Comstock, O.C. McKalip, E.C. Berger, and F.W. Henninger.
The purpose of this company was to open a brand new trolley park in West View, Pennsylvania. Roughly $250,000 (approximately $6.4 million in 2017 US dollars) was to be spent on opening the park.
Of all of the people on the board of directors, many know who F.W. Henninger is – later in the year, he would join A.W. McSwigan in taking control of Kennywood Park. The Henninger family remained closely connected to Kennywood for generations. The Comstock’s were related to the Henninger’s. Oliver C. McKalip was involved in the T.M. Harton Company and would go on to be West View Park’s first general manager. Edward C. Berger was involved in amusement parks, also creating Southern Park Toboggan Company and Island Park Toboggan Company with T.M. Harton in 1907.
Who is Lorenzo T. Yoder? He was the owner of a building at 1235 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh. What is interesting about this is that when Harton got into his first career – as a produce commission merchant – he eventually worked out of the building at 1235 Liberty Avenue, which Yoder owned. Here is a listing from 1902 when Harton still had a produce component as part of T.M. Harton Company. In an article about the up and coming West View Park from April 29, 1906, in The Pittsburgh Press, Yoder is called a “capitalist and philanthropist.”
Getting the park open
Below is a slideshow of images from The Pittsburgh Gazette from April 1906 of West View Park.
Pittsburgh Railways Company spent $200,000 (approximately $5.2 million in 2017 US dollars) adding terminal facilities, a power station, and extending power lines, to the Bellevue line.
West View Park opened on Wednesday, May 23, 1906, with Nirella’s Fourteenth Regiment Band being the major performer in the Dancing Pavilion. The park opened with three amusement rides: Mystic Chute, a combination Chute-the-Chute and Old Mill, a carousel called Merry-Go-Round, and a Figure 8 roller coaster. The park offered a variety of attractions including an arcade and photograph gallery, rowboats, ponies and burros for kids, and Hale’s Tours of the World – a moving picture panorama.
Hale’s Tours of the World was similar to a modern 4D movie theater experience – the room you were in could rock and shake simulating movement on a train ride, a typical movie for Hale’s Tours of the World.
West View Park would go on to have a very successful first season. New rides would be added in 1907, including a Katzenjammer Castle funhouse.
To see more about West View Park, check out the Library subsection on this site about West View Park.
5 thoughts on “The Opening of West View Park”
This is where our school always had its school picnic and the first place I rode a rollercoaster – front seat only!
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this is where my first boy friend took me for our school picnic
…was a loyal west view park patron from 1953/1977; the thrill is now gone but never the memories of youth/adolescense in one of America’s greatest archetypical amusemet parks