Swatara Park

Swatara Park was a small park just north of the borough of Middletown, Pennsylvania. It was right along the Swatara Creek where there is currently a bridge crossing for Vine Street / Middletown Road. When driving along Vine Street, you can see where the park once would have been.

Don Farr created Swatara Park in 1938, as a place for people to swim. Farr also offered refreshments for sale.

1956-02-04-lebanon-daily-news-p12

Swatara Park operated a new train ride for a weekend in February. From Lebanon Daily News, February 4, 1956.

In 1953, Swatara Park began evolving into an amusement park. Plans were in place to expand the park over the next several years. In 1953, the park added two kiddie rides and a major boat ride.

In November 1954, park management was searching for new rides to install in the park. This included a miniature train, a Ferris wheel, and a small coaster. They placed several advertisements in The Billboard between 1954 and 1955.

In 1955, a Chris Crafts Speed Boat ride and a Merry-Go-Round carousel were added, as well as two picnic pavilions. In 1956, a Miniature Train Company miniature train was installed; a kiddie roller coaster called Little Dipper (most likely an Allen Herschell kiddie coaster given the name) was installed in 1957.  Other rides added included a Tilt-A-Whirl and a Ferris wheel.

1957-09-21-lebanon-daily-news-p15

Swatara Park had a promotional day called Nickel Day. This was held in mid-September and all rides cost 5 cents, as well as some food. From Lebanon Daily News, September 21, 1957.

The park continued adding rides into mid-1960s. This included a Swingin’ Gym ride called Flying Cages, Kiddie Hand Cars, Jolly Trolley, and Orbiter.

A paddle wheel boat ride was installed in 1963 and named for Robert E. Lee. It was themed as acknowledgment of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg from the Civil War.

1963-08-24 Lebanon Daily News (p13)

Promotion for the two new rides in 1963. From the Lebanon Daily News, August 24, 1963, on page 13.

Advertisements for Swatara Park stopped appearing in Harrisburg-Lebanon area newspapers after the 1968 season. By 1970, the amusement park rides had been removed and replaced by trailer homes. It is apparent that the park closed at the end of the 1968 season and did not reopen in 1969.

Swatara Park founder Don Farr passed away on June 23, 1975. The land was passed on through the generations since, which included several subdivisions of the property since the park closed.

1983-01-27 Plan Book R Volume 3 (p26)

Preliminary and final subdivision plan of Raymond A. Farr, lands formerly of Swatara Park, from January 21, 1983. This is from the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds office.

Below is a partial list of rides that operated in Swatara Park.


Partial list of Swatara Park rides

Name Opened
Kiddie Boats 1953
Kiddie Swings 1953
Merry-Go-Round 1955
Speed Boat 1955
Miniature Train 1956
Little Dipper 1957
Scooter Cars 1957
Tilt-A-Whirl 1957
Ferris Wheel 1957
Cruise Boat 1959
Kiddie Hand Cars 1960
Tractor Ride 1962
Jolly Trolley 1963
Paddle Wheel Boat 1963
Flying Cages 1963
Orbiter 1964
Tango Skooters 1967