Located in North Dartmouth, MA
- Also Known As:Midway Park, Westport Park
- Genre:Theme / Amusement Park
- Age:123 years
- Demo / Renovated:2012
- Decaying for:25 years
- Last Known Status:Demolished
Photo © 2006 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Lincoln Park History
The Union Street Railway Co. purchased 46 acres of land in Dartmouth MA to compliment a trolley line which ran from Fall River to New Bedford, creating a picnic park for passengers on the line. The park opened in 1894, offering a playground, concession stands, and small games, and quickly grew in popularity due to the location between the two cities. A Looff Carousel (1895) and a "Giant Coaster" were eventually built on site, along with a dance hall where Big Bands provided music almost every night during the summer. In 1941, the park was purchased for $40,000 to expand the rides into a true amusement park, operated by John Collins & Associates.
A fourteen-lane bowling alley, skating rink, and a ballroom were built; the latter hosted performances by famous acts such as the Three Stooges and Buddy Holly. The most prominent ride at the park was The Comet: a 3,000 foot long wooden roller coaster built in 1946 from the disassembled "Giant Coaster." It reached 65 feet tall and the cars had a top speed of 55 miles per hour. A smaller version of the coaster was also built for younger kids in 1951, called Comet Jr.
Lincoln Park was not without its troubles however. Major fires were started by arsonists in 1978 and 1982, destroying entire buildings. In 1964, a man died while standing up on The Comet as it ascended the lift hill, and eight people were injured on the ride later that year. In 1968, the last car detached from the train and rolled backwards, eventually derailing and dumping nine people from a height of ten feet, due to the occupants rocking the car and breaking the connecting plates. Then in 1986, an electrician fell 55 feet to his death while performing maintenance on the roller coaster.
In 1986 park owner Jay Hoffman invested $75,000 on restoring the park, assuring the public that the rides were inspected and safe. Only a year later, the braking system on The Comet malfunctioned, causing the cars to jackknife. There were no major injuries, but this was the death knell for the struggling park, which closed on December 3rd, 1987 and owing thousands in taxes and other debts. It went up for sale for $3.5 million, but no one was interested in investing.
Almost all the rides were auctioned off, including the Ferris Wheel (now in New Bedford) and the carousel (now at Battleship Cove in Fall River). The wooden roller coaster remained however; the jackknifed car still sitting on the track for a number of years. Heavy snow storms and wind damage eventually led to the collapse of the lift hill, loading platform, and southern curve. A series of fires in the 1990s destroyed 90% of the structures on the site, including the original dance hall. The ruins of the park and roller coaster were demolished and cleared away in July 2012, to make way for mixed use development.