Arcadia's Springlake Amusement Park examines Oklahoma City fun spot By Staff Wrtier - 03/01/2009 Amusement Today
Arcadia Publishing's Springlake Amusement Park, one of the newest offerings in its long-running Images of America series, takes a look at one of Oklahoma's most beloved traditional amusement parks.
Listed as author of the 127-page book is Douglas Loudenback, a lawyer and self-proclaimed amateur Oklahoma City historian. Despite the overly subjective tone of the writing (e.g. the caption beneath a shot of the Orbit, one of Springlake's more unique attractions, reads "What mother in her right mind would willingly put her kid in such a ride?"), and the occasional photo mislabeled or printed backwards, this book offers six chapters detailing Springlake's history.
The book's strength lies in its collection of B&W photographs. These include aerial shots of the property as well as various views of the famous twin swimming pools and John Miller's 1926-built Big Dipper wooden roller coaster, which remained the park's marquee attraction for 55 years. There is even a mystery photo (page 30) that shows Springlake's miniature train in 1926 with bizarre, undulating wooden roller coaster-like hills, which the author mistakenly identifies as the Big Dipper.
Springlake Amusement Park also tackles the plight of many traditional amusement parks that survived into the second half of the 20th century – forced racial integration. As with other parks of that era, Springlake suffered terribly, and by the late 1960’s it had developed an unsavory reputation. Many long time guests, some refusing to accept integration, feared for their safety and chose to stay away. The book concludes with a description of the violent Easter 1971 racially-motivated riot that many feel signaled the beginning of the end for this once proud American park. Despite a strict new admissions policy and the sale to new owners in 1977, the damage was done. Springlake closed forever in 1981.
Springlake Amusement Park is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
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