Siouxland Summer, Arnolds Park

19 May

I recently visited the Lakes Region in Western Iowa, specifically Arnolds Park, to check out the area of its amusement park. It has one of the oldest roller coaster rides in the United States and some other shops along its board walk. It also has a cruise boat that people can purchase tickets to and ride around the lakes, imagining the more genteel days of the late 1800’s when the first boat was put into service.

This is history located on a website about Arnolds Park amusement park: “The Arnold’s Park resort was established in the 1880s by W. B. Arnold, and the town of the same name came later.  There were no early coasters.  Following Arnold’s death in 1905, the property was divided into two parts.
The part containing the original amusement park passed into the hands of Dr. A. L. Peck.  The park was called Peck’s Park approximately from 1917 to 1945, although it came under new ownership in 1935.  After subsequent sales, it was Lawler’s Park (or Lawlor’s–newspapers are inconsistent on the spelling) from 1946 to 1950, and then Arnolds Amusement Park beginning in 1951.  This park had three roller coasters, each replacing the previous one, and built in essentially the same location. The adjacent property (to the SW) resulting from the division was developed as Stevens Beach (by 1908) and later as Benit’s Park (around 1922).  The owners incorporated as Lakes Amusement Company in 1935. Although under different ownership, the two amusement parks had contiguous midways and cooperated in most advertising and promotion.  The two parks with the names Arnolds Park and Benit’s Park continued at least until 1968.  It isn’t known when the parks came under joint ownership but a 1985 item suggests this happened in the early 1970s.”

This information is provided about the Queen II: “In the late 19th century, the lakes region became a resort area and the small steamboats and sailboats could not keep up with the flow of vacationers. The Queen, a large steamer, was constructed, along with other larger boats, to accommodate this new need. By the 1920s, the construction of roads around the lakes brought about the demise of most of the fleet. The Queen stayed in service for those people who wished to see the lake by water. In 1973 the Queen was finally retired, after 89 years of service. The Queen II was commissioned and built in 1986 and she was designated the “Flagship of the Iowa Navy.”

I plan to go back there during the summer, understanding that at times the crowds and traffic and be quite overwhelming and to see the attraction in all of its glory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


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