Oakford Park

Oakford Park was an amusement park located in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The park was also sometimes labeled as being in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (as seen above). The park was opened in May 1896 and was closed after the 1940 season. Park ownership changed hands several times from it’s opening to it’s close.

First season, 1896

During that first season, a boy named Roy Moore sadly drowned in the lake at Oakford Park in the beginning of the month of August.

According to a report that was special to The Pittsburgh Press: In the middle of the night on August 6, 1896, a crowd of 2,000 people went to the lake in Oakford Park to attempt to retrieve the body. Their plan was to dredge the lake using dynamite and other implements of destruction. When their efforts did not produce a body, the crowd decided it was necessary to drain the lake.

Park management objected to the crowd’s suggestion of draining the lake, so they had to call in the sheriff and his deputies to break up the crowd. The park then dispatched an employee to find and hire a professional diver to search the lake.  It remains unclear if any body was recovered.

The Flood of 1903

On July 5, 1903, a substantial thunderstorm resulted in terrible flooding in Oakford Park and the city of Jeanette. A dam broke which resulted in a reported six foot high wall of water rushing into the park and the city of Jeanette.

The flood was a large disaster for all of Jeanette – the city had to completely rebuild the sewer system after the flood. In the park alone, at least 20 people perished in the flood waters.

A number of structures were also washed away, including a roller coaster – which was most likely an Ingersoll Switchback Railway – and the trolley station that served the park. Most of the waters carried everything to the next town over, Grapeville.

The New Oakford Park

The park reopened in 1904, with a new figure eight roller coaster that was known as Three Way Figure Eight. This Ingersoll coaster then operated through the 1940 season.

1916-03-XX Sanborn Map [Jeanette - Oakford Park] (s009) [crop]
Map of Oakford Park, March 1916. Sheet 9 from Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, 1916, from Penn State University Libraries Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Collection.
Based on this map above, here is a list of rides in Oakford Park in 1916:

  • Circle Swing
  • Merry-Go-Round
  • Slide
  • Three-Way Figure Eight (labeled Roller Coaster)

In 1923, there was an accident on the coaster when a wooden board fell off a higher level of the coaster and stuck the second car of the two car train. The five people injured were all pupils of the Mount Pleasant public school system and were at the park for a school picnic. None of them were seriously injured although one person was knocked unconscious and revived and another person had a broken arm.

Oakford Park remained in operation through 1940; the park was closed when the physical assets of the park (Caterpillar, Skooter, Aero Swing, and the roller coaster) were sold at a receiver’s sale to Olympia Park in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, for $200.00.

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