The First Years of Hersheypark (1903-1910)
1903: The town of Hershey is laid out by planners for Mr. Milton S. Hershey. The plans for the town included a park that was initially intended to be for the employees of the chocolate factory being built as the reason for establishing a new industry town.
1904: In September, it is announced that the new town will be called Hersheykoko. Within months, the name becomes Hershey, dropping the “koko.”
1905: With main construction of the chocolate factory complete, Hershey Improvement Company began to build structures for “West End Park”. Though an informal name, this was Hersheypark. The first pavilion, which would be in the park through 1989, was completed in September 1905, in order to be properly prepared for the following season. An amphitheater was also plotted along Spring Creek. Some Hersheypark documents from before 1950 use this year as the incorporation of the park, essentially.
1906: A baseball field was staked out adjacent the amusement grounds. A grandstand was built. On May 30, 1906, Hersheypark, under the two word name Hershey Park, opened for its first season. This was published in a number of Harrisburg-area newspapers. Very few Hersheypark documents list this as the opening year of the park. Hershey Park hosted a variety of picnic events of groups from Harrisburg and Lebanon in July and August.
1907: Hersheypark currently uses April 24, 1907 as the date the park opened. However, the park didn’t open the 1907 until Memorial Day, May 30. As of the now, April 24, 1907, is still the official date Hershey Entertainment & Resorts considers Hersheypark opened. In August, surveying begins for the original Hershey Park Pool, in the Hollow where Wave Swinger is today.
1908: Hersheypark begins to develop into an amusement park. The park purchases a fleet of steel row boats for Spring Creek and were being rented to park visitors on Memorial Day, May 30. The park also introduces its first shooting gallery, located where Fender Bender is today. The original Hershey Park Pool opened in mid-June; it was an earthen pool and did not have any concrete. On July 3, Hersheypark debuted a used Herschell-Spillman carousel called Merry-Go-Round. On the evening July 23, Hersheypark experienced its first flood, destroying several bridges and Hershey Park Pool.
1909: Two bowling alleys and a photographic gallery are added. The bowling alleys were in the basement of a building that was on the hill in the park – this hill became known as Bowling Alley Hill (later shorted to “The Hill”, Hersheypark now calls the area of the park this was in, Kissing Tower Hill).
1910: The park pool is reconstructed. Hershey Park Zoo is formally opened. A limited section of the Miniature Railroad is operated in September.