|Defunct Coasters||Updated: March 28, 2011|
Columbia Gardens, Butte, MT
Council Crest, Portland, OR
Hastings park, Vancouver, BC
julia davis fun depot, boise, id
Lotus Isle, Portland, OR
Luna Park, Seattle, WA
Playland, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Playland, Seattle, WA
puyallup fair, puyallup, wa
Santafair, federal way, wa
Stanley Park , Vancouver, BC
White City, Bellingham, Wa
White City, Seattle, WA
White City, Vancouver, bc
Columbia Gardens Roller Coaster was built in 1906 as a three level, side friction Figure 8 coaster then was reduced in size to two levels in 1918. Around 1928, the Anaconda Company, who then owned the park, completely refurbished the ride. It was rebuilt into an out and back style coaster. The cars, known as velvet chariots, didn't ride on rails but rode on hard maple runners and would bump-steer the ride's corners as they went around.
Many locals who rode Roller Coaster thought it was terrifying, violent, and fun. One fan claimed he rode it 78 times in a row. The park's other rides included, Bi-Planes, Ferris Wheel, and the Carousel which was considered the "crowned jewel" since it was designed by Allen Herschel in 1928.
Prior to the existence of the park's amusement rides, Columbia Gardens first began its long history as a family recreation park that was purchased by Senator W. A. Clark in 1899. Clark then expanded the Gardens spending more than $100,000 which encompassed 68 acres.
The park also had a popular dance pavilion that first opened in May, 1908 with a "grand opening ball" to commemorate the occasion. This was not the Gardens first dance pavilion though since the original one had been leveled by fire in 1907. The new dance pavilion not only became well known for dances but a number of other community events such as barbeques, high school commencement cermonies, art festivals, political banquets catered civic luncheons, and convention dinners. Even Ann Landers, a well known newspaper columnist, had a banquet held in her honor at the pavilion in 1960.
Three years after Senator Clark died in 1925, in 1928 the Anaconda Company purchased the Gardens from Clark's heirs and continued to operate it through contributions made to the Columbia Gardens Foundation. Many improvements were eventually made to the park and a "free recreational center with emphasis on children" was maintained. The park never had an admission fee for children and kept it that way.
For many years, the beautiful park was well loved and enjoyed by many patrons both young and old. It was a special place where adults could congregate and where children could enjoy hours riding the Carousel or the Roller Coaster.
Unfortunately, the good o'l times had to come to an end. In 1973, The Anaconda Company closed the park for good with increasing operational costs and the "advent of open pit mining."
Today, not much is left of the Gardens. And, if there is anything left standing, it is only a ghostly reminder of what once was. In the 1999 PBS documentary, "Remembering the Columbia Gardens," what remained then was the park's grand entrance structure and a Roller Coaster car sitting in blades of grass. It was as if a certain period in time had never existed. A part of history that many people held dear to their hearts had indeed vanished.
Fortunately, there are those alive who have memories of the park when they visited as children. One individual who spent many hours of timeless fun on the carousel at Columbia Gardens is Missoula cabinet-maker Chuck Kaparich.
Kaparich had a dream and vision to build a carousel for Missoula. In 1991, he made a promise to Missoula's City Council, "If you will give it [carousel] a home, and promise no one will ever take it apart, I will build A Carousel for Missoula." And so, the council agreed and Kaparich "carved four carousel ponies and had purchased an antique frame in thousands of pieces. The building process all came together with lots of help not only from the community but from the far reaches of northern Canada.
The carousel opened in May, 1995, and has since been a treasure of the community. In 2003, I rode this beautiful machine and instantly found a connection with it and the history of Columbia Gardens.
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