|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
Natatorium Park (affectionally known as Nat Park) opened in 1889 as Twickenham Park and was owned by Washington Water Power Co. The park's first recreation focused on sports and thus a baseball field was built. As the Spokane area started growing, people wanted more entertainment. Soon Vaudville and a casino came into the scene bringing a rather "rough crowd". In 1893, Natatorium opened its first pool (called a natatorium), and in that year the park renamed itself as Natatorium Park adding amusement rides.
Natatorium Park's first roller coaster (pictured above) debuted in 1905. The Figure 8, also known as the Scenic Railway, was installed by Audley Ingersoll's amusement company. The coaster operated between 1905 to 1919 and was considered a "thriller" with a speed of 10mph. By the 1920 season this ride was replaced with the that operated until the last season in 1967.
Between 1907 and 1908, Nat was known as the "Coney Island of The Inland Empire" and was leased by Audley Ingersoll. Though Ingersoll was considered young and maybe a bit naive in the business, he did bring some new entertainment to the park. The Pacific Northwest's largest dance hall was built as well as the Shoot-The-Chutes ride and lights were scattered throughout the park adding a night glow. The park became known as a "Modern Fairyland" or as "Ingersoll's Park". But within that year, for reasons unknown, Ingersoll defaulted the park's lease and skipped town. Washington Water Power reclaimed the park.
In 1909, the Loof Carousel was built and was considered the "most cherished of all rides" in the park. In 1910, a second pool opened and was known as The Plunge. It contained an olympic size swimming pool, well water, and 300 dressing rooms. The water was kept warm by coals so that people in the community could use it in the winter months.
With the trolley line being a popular way of traveling around, Nat Park remained a successful means of entertainment. Amongst the rides that operated at the park were the: Hammer (Roll-O-Plane), Octopus, Rock-O-Plane, Loof Carousel, Miniature Train, Joy Wheel (later called The Nut House), Dragon Slide, Dodgem Cars, Custer Speedway, Ye Olde Mill (later replaced by the Whip), Pretzel Dark Ride (later called Fun in The Dark), and the Bi-Planes which were later replaced with the Rocket Ships. There was also a zoo and arcade at the park. As the years progressed, Nat was always seeking ways in how to add new things to the park. This seemed to encourage more visitors and keep devoted patrons coming to the park each year.
However, in the early 1960's Nat Park started having problems. The trolley had been demolished in 1936 and people were open to using a new means of transportation - automobiles. With people using their own car, Nat became something old and something they had already experienced, and they were less motivated to visit. Also during this time, the park's attractions were becoming old and unattended to. With the decreasing attendance, operating costs increased, and it was inevitable that Nat would meet its demise. In 1962, Nat was put up for sale and remained closed for the 1963 season. In 1965, the park's manager, Bill Oliver then took care of the park but his ideas on how to keep the park surviving failed, and in 1967 Nat Park saw its last season.
Some of the rides that survived the park's demolition was the Rock-O-Plane, a rocket from the Rocket Ship ride, and the Miniature Train ride. The Rock-O-Plane used to operate at the now defunct Thrill-Ville USA amusement park in Turner, Oregon (and is currently up for sale). The car that remains from the Rocket Ship found a home at the Montessori Early Learning Center in Spokane.
Probably the most cherished ride that remains of Natatorium Park is the 1909 Charles Looff Carousel. Looff had given the carousel to his daughter Emma and her husband Louis Vogel as a wedding gift. Originally, Looff had hopes that Washington Water Power (owner of Nat Park) would purchase it, but the price ($20,000) was scoffed at by the company and they turned it down. Vogel ended up a Concession Director and later bought the park from Washington Water Power for $127,000 in 1929. Vogel's son, Lloyd proceeded ownership until his death in the mid 1960's.
After the 1974 Spokane Expo, the carousel was moved into a permanent structure at Riverfront Park and was rededicated on May 7, 1975. Bill Oliver (Nat's last owner) helped in the restoration process, participated in the rededication and had the lead horse named after him. is now a National Historic Landmark.
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