This one-of-a-kind hike in Connecticut takes you through an abandoned amusement park
Lake Compounce, the nation’s oldest amusement park, has been welcoming guests for 125 years. Since its opening in 1846, that amusement park has become a favorite among thrill-seekers, young adults, and families. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, several of Connecticut’s amusement parks did not fare as well as others and closed after a very short time. Hiking to one of these derelict sites now allows you to explore the ruins of a long-lost theme park.
Between 1895 and 1905, Suburban Park was open for only ten years. This terminal was constructed by the Hartford Suburban Trolley Line as the final stop on the route from Hartford to Unionville. In order to get more people to use their services, many trolley companies of the era constructed parks like this one.
In its former life as an amusement park, Suburban Park featured expansive grassy spaces, a swimming lake, a dance hall, a merry-go-round, and more. Trails wind through the park’s dense forest, which has grown up around the abandoned rides and attractions.
Examine the crumbling walls and foundations of abandoned structures as they are progressively reclaimed by the elements. Imagination is the only tool you’ll need to re-create the buzzing weekend energy of a happy theme park.
The subterranean cold storage cellar used for food refrigeration is a popular stop for children along the paths. Get inside and look around this buried building.
The park’s highlight was a vibrant, illuminated fountain. That water show was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Back when gas was still used to power our streetlights, an electric fountain was a major novelty.
You need not wander aimlessly around the wreckage of the defunct amusement park. Timmy Germano and his volunteer group have been maintaining the paths and placing informational signs along them for the past few months as part of his Eagle Scout project. It’ll simplify your sightseeing and provide you with valuable extra insight.
Information on the buildings, including historical photos, is provided on the placards erected around the perimeter. The routes are well-marked and straightforward, but some hill-climbing is required to see all of the derelict landmarks.
Sue Peters has uploaded a short film to YouTube that gives you a better look at the rest of Suburban Park.