An Abandoned Amusement Park With a History of Death

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 13 2014 8:45 AM

Lake Shawnee: An Abandoned Amusement Park With a History of Death

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Rarely is a fun park site so dominated by death and violence. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was built in 1926 on the site of a Native American burial ground in Princeton, West Virginia. In addition to being a mass grave, the land was the location of an 18th-century double murder. In 1783, Shawnee Indians killed and scalped two children from the Clay family, the first white settlers in the county.

Oblivious to the location's bloody past, C.T. Snidow opened the amusement park at Lake Shawnee to cater to families of local coal workers. In its heyday, the park was full of carnival and water rides and boasted a swimming pool, dance hall, and concession stands. Unfortunately, death claimed more children: a young boy drowned in the pool, and a girl died when a truck accidentally backed into the path of the rotating swing ride.

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Lake Shawnee shut down in 1966 and sat idle until 1985, when a man named Gaylord White purchased the site and reopened the fun park. The carnival lasted just three years before shuttering again.

The rusting skeletons of the Ferris wheel and swing ride still stand at Lake Shawnee. Plants and tree branches curl around their hulking frames.

Other abandoned amusement parks:


View Lake Shawnee in a larger map

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.

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