PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is known for its variety of roller coasters and amusement parks. But which of the state’s many amusement parks is the oldest?
Idlewild, located in Ligonier near Pittsburgh, is the oldest operating amusement park in Pennsylvania. The park was opened in 1878 by William Darlington who owned the property the park sits on.
In May 1878, Darlington gave Judge Thomas Mellon, owner of the Ligonier Valley Railroad “the right and privilege to occupy his land for picnic purposes or pleasure grounds.” When this occurred, the park included campgrounds on both sides of the railroad.
An artificial lake was created for boating and fishing, as well as picnic tables and a large hall. Darlington advertised the park in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, and the park continued to be a success in the area.
The park continued to be a success for many years. In 1952, the Ligonier Valley Railroad was shut down. The good news, however, had no effect on the success of the park. The park continued to grow, adding a Story Book Forest in 1956.
Major changes began to occur in the 1980s when the owners of Kennywood took ownership. To this day Kennywood, as well as Dutch Wonderland and Lake Compounce serve as sister parks to Idlewild.
Now, in 2023 the park features over 40 rides and attractions and a full water park named Soak Zone. The park continues to entertain guests from the area, the state, and the country.