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Sep 23, 2009
So I was perusing eBay for park merch (as one does on a Monday night) and I remembered that I hadn’t run a search for Lakeside Park merch in a while.

For the uninitiated, Lakeside was an amusement park located in Salem, VA. It was home to a number of rides over the years—most notable among them was Shooting Star, a classic, John Allen-designed L-shaped, out-and-back woodie. The park ultimately closed in the late 80s following a devastating flood and a lawsuit resulting from the death of a maintenance worker.

For the BGW fans out there, Lakeside may ring a bell. It was the original home of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Alpen Express train.

Anywho, since ParkFans is sorta the defacto source for VA amusement industry discussion at this point, I feel like we should be doing something to highlight Virginia’s now-defunct parks. Hence, this thread.

That said, I have something to kick things off with as well. So that initial eBay search this evening didn’t provide anything interesting... until I switched over to the recently sold listings. That’s where I found an absolute gem—the type of thing I dream about when researching old parks—a roller coaster lost to history.

RCDB lists two wooden coasters as having been Lakeside Park’s only two coasters. Well, it turns out that they, at one time, had a steel coaster too—seemingly towards the end of the park’s life.

Here are the photos from the eBay listing for a Lakeside Park brochure from an unknown year.

79351D81-D143-48E4-970E-B5557EB53222.jpeg BA66299A-7A02-4E37-8173-D7AA625F339C.png 290CECD9-8D0F-43A9-9A53-C92E93C96976.jpeg

Note the steel coaster in the bottom-middle area of the park overview shot. Can anyone identify this make and model? I’d love to have some information to submit to RCDB alongside this photo!
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Hi so I took a quick gander to figure out what that ride was.

I knew it was some sort of Wild Mouse ride due to the shape of what little is shown, so searched all Miler products old and new.

Wikipedia listed the coaster as "Wild Mouse" and it was removed before 1974, so I looked up "Lakeside Wild Mouse" and found a Penn State University personal user entry that listed all Wild Mouse types ever built which also listed Lakeside as having a Wild Mouse. Better yet, it listed this Wild Mouse as an Allan Herschell Monster Mouse.

EDIT: upon further review of that PSU article. It's more apt to describe it as a personal research paper, and my oh my is it worth it to read if you've got time.
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Loved watching the whole structure shake when going around that turnaround curve on Shooting Star. Seeing if we got through it before it collapsed added to the excitement! I like going into the grocery store now there and riding the shopping carts around the store really fast whilst making coaster noises. There are some sad flooding pictures on the net.

Some old photos from the newspaper. Looking back on Lakeside.

We could always do a thread on the roller coaster and dance pavilion at Mountain Park/ Mill Mountain Incline. Some of this found its way to Lakeside Park in Salem when this park closed. The incline scar can still be seen today.

b7236.jpg 1915hospital.jpg 1b0711d2b54cc0970d99136705842438--mountain-park-roanoke.jpg
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Double Post. Sorry.
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Wow this is a joy to see. We lived about 15-20 mins from the park when I was a kid and went there quite often during the summer. It seemed like the greatest place on earth at the time, much like I remember BGW when I was old enough to really remember the experience. Shooting Star was my first coaster and I remember it being really rough.

The only bad part about seeing this, is it makes me feel old knowing I lived through that awkward time.
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The Salem Museum use to have artifacts on display. Including a scale model. Certainly in their archives, if not displayed. You can see an eight page list of items they have if you search their site. Here is their history article. Salem Museum - Lakeside Park.

We waited years, with great excitement, to have Shooting Star reassembled here at Emerald Pointe. That died when Wet N' Wild trashed it after letting it sit in a field. At leaset the trains went to Myrtle Beach. The RCDB says:
While the valuable parts of the Shooting Star were relocated to Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe (Greensboro, NC), the track remained in Salem, VA until March 7th, 2004. The remaining track was cut apart, transported to Floyd, VA and built into a permanent stage at Floyd Fest.

As I'd mentioned before, Mountain Park's The Thriller was moved to to Lakeside as The Wildcat, I believe. RCDB lists, but does not reconcile the connection as they were named different at each park.

Here is The Thriller at Mountain Park, in the upper left at the foot of Mill Mountain.
Aerial view of Mountain Park on Jefferson Street in South Roanoke. Visible are the baseball di...jpg

Here it is at Lakeside before the expansion, and eventual razing for Shooting Star.
Wildcat (Thriller) at Lakeside.jpg

EDIT: Apparently a permanent exhibit! Lakeside! Sixty Summers of Ups and Downs
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I’m so intrigued by defunct parks and their stories so thanks for this!!

Part of what’s so fascinating to me is back when a lot of these defunct parks existed, the idea to vacationing to a park or driving hours to somewhere was a far fetched ideas. So local parks were as common as malls (ok not quite but they existed in larger numbers!).

The other part that amazes me is why some exist. In quite a few cases of the ones I found they were parts of company towns, and the still existing (owned by the company or a close offshoot) still existing are Hersheypark, Del Grosso’s. I can’t think of many off the top of my head. So diving into the history of the town, company, why it collapsed just peaks my interest.
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