On May 16, the Frazier International History Museum opens Fontaine Ferry, a 3,800 square foot exhibition that explores this integral part of Louisville’s history, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the park’s closing. The exhibition will explore the park’s beginnings as a boat landing in 1814, through the Great Depression and the Great Flood of 1937 to the 64-acre attraction’s demise amid the effects of urban flight and racial tensions of the civil rights movement.
Fontaine Ferry Park
. Aaron Fontaine bought the site where the amusement park would stand from William Lytle in 1814. At that time the property was called Carter’s ferry which later was named Fontaine Ferry. Here stood a house that faced the Ohio River and a landing for boats.It was located at 230 Southwestern Parkway, Louisville KY.
In the 1880’s a resort was built on the Fontaine estate. The Fontaine Hotel and Restaurant opened and was a great success. Not long after the owners began to build an amusement park.
The grand opening was in May of 1905. It had four roller coasters, ferris wheel, games as well as a bicycle track where many major races were held. It was so successful that it soon became one of the most famous parks in the country.
As time passed other attractions were added like a swimming pool and a dance hall. In 1960 to keep up with the changing times the park unveiled it’s newest attraction which was the Turnpike. It was a concrete road that was a half mile long, which you drove miniature sports cars.
Over the years some of the most memorable attractions have been Gypsy Village, Hilarity Hall, Scenic Railway, Velvet Racer, Wheel of Joy, Sugar Bowl, and the Comet.
Stone craving and glass ornament made by Al Nelson especially for one of my history exhibits.
Fontaine Ferry Postal Studio
After operating for more than 80 years Fontaine Ferry closed. It was bought and named Ghost Town on the River and later Glen Park but the magic didn’t seem to remain after Fontaine Ferry closed.
Fontaine Estates replaced what was know as the “Dude” Ranch- the street is called Fontaine Landing
In 1976 a fire destroyed most of the building. I was a young child at the time and remember my father and I went to see what had happen. We parked down the street and walked up to where the front entrance was. We stood across the street watching while flames seemed to grow higher in the air as the fire fighters tried to put it out. Even at that time I could see how sad that my dad was to see this great piece of history go up in flames. He still has many fond memories of this old park.
Not long after the fire the city bought the land and it became part of Shawnee Park.
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