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Camden Park


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Camden Park, ‘‘Home of the Happy Clown,’’ is located just west of Huntington in Wayne County. Once one of many streetcar parks designed to boost trolley passenger traffic on weekends and holidays, today it is West Virginia’s only amusement park. Camden Park was established in 1903 as a picnic grove of the Camden Interstate Railway, both named for principal owner Sen. Johnson N. Camden of Parkersburg. Col. E. G. Via became park manager in 1903, bought the park in 1916, and ran it until his death in 1946.

An Indian mound, the third largest in West Virginia, is located within the park’s boundaries. The top of the mound was used as a bandstand in the early part of the 20th century. At various times during its history, Camden Park operated a swimming pool, a zoo, scores of different rides, and many other attractions, including a vintage carousel.

The streetcar line eventually gave way to a modern four-lane highway, U.S. 60, that goes past the park entrance. The 1937 Ohio River flood and then World War II caused major setbacks. In 1946, Camden Park was sold to Huntington furniture dealer James P. Boylin and brought back from the brink of extinction to become a popular, family-oriented park. Present Camden Park includes 22 acres. The carousel is still in operation, though the original hand-carved horses were sold. The park has two roller coasters, a penny arcade, cafeteria, and an overhead tram ride.

Camden Park celebrated its centennial in 2003.

Written by Joseph Platania

Sources

  1. Platania, Joseph. The Sign of the Happy Clown: Looking Back at Camden Park. Goldenseal, (Summer 1987).

  2. Platania, Joseph. Camden Park. Wonderful West Virginia, (July 1996).