Chippewa Lake, Ohio
I first found out about the Chippewa Lake Amusement Park from Weird U.S. The moment I read about the abandoned amusement park that has since been taken over by nature and become a ride graveyard of sorts, I knew I had to go.
As the world becomes increasingly (and frighteningly) more modern at a startling rate (don’t get me started on Uber’s self-driving cars), there’s something oddly refreshing about nature triumphing over man-made objects and buildings. Fern Gully-esque, if you will. I think that’s why people really dig abandoned places: the juxtaposition of the old and the new.
So what is Chippewa Lake Amusement Park, exactly?
A short synopsis: the village of Chippewa Lake, near Medina in northeast Ohio, has been a vacation spot since the 1800s. The amusement park officially opened in 1878 and was a season favorite for the next 100 years. Alas, it closed after the summer of 1978 due to a number of factors such as its wane in popularity and the steep local competition of the nearby Cedar Point.
My younger sister and I decided to go on a road trip when I was home over the holiday break and visit this amusement park, as well as other local curiosities. Her grad school friend joined us as well. At last minute, my dad decided he wanted to come. Why not? And then it was off we went to explore the weird and strange oddities that northeast Ohio has to offer.
We used the Google Maps address to direct us to the now defunct amusement park and were a bit perturbed when we arrived in a not-very-friendly-looking neighborhood of small gray houses and blatant “NO TRESPASSING” and “DO NOT ENTER” signs.
The park itself was hidden somewhere in the woods behind this neighborhood – far enough back that we could not see it.
When we saw the woods which led to the amusement park, we couldn’t help but balk at the glaring “NO TRESPASSING” signs there as well.
It didn’t look like the place you’d want to park, or the kind of place that was open to outsiders.
My dad decided he wanted to look for another entrance. I told him there wasn’t one—this was the closest place to get into the park. He pointed out the signs and said we weren’t going in. I said that we were going in. He said no and drove off to find a different way to get in.
So we drove around the lake and ended up in the boondocks. I felt it was a futile endeavor, but what can one do?
So I opened my phone, scrolled in on Google Maps, and looked for another entrance. Aha! The actual lake community itself.
So we went back to where we came from.
As we were driving through this neighborhood, we felt even more unwelcome. Though people still lived there, it was clear that Chippewa Lake’s heyday was long gone. It reminded me of a lot of old resort towns I’d been to in Ohio that had long since gone to seed.
And there were confederate flags and Trump signs. I had a feeling what kind of people were here—not one my sister’s friend would feel welcome in since she’s from another country and is not white.
My sister and I tried to find a way to follow along the lakeside to reach wherever the abandoned amusement park was. Per Google Maps, it was somewhere in the green blob of the forest, far from view, yet so close.
As we walked by the beach, we tried not to appear to be too conspicuous.
Nope, folks, don’t mind us.
We came to the woods. There was a fence all the way alongside it with the “NO TRESPASSING” and “AREA CLOSED” signs again. We couldn’t walk along the lake since the fence stopped abruptly right at the edge of the water.
We considered trying to jump said fence but realized that this might not be the best idea. Tetanus, causing attention to ourselves, getting chased by the angry neighbors, and all that.
So we returned to the car where my dad and my sister’s friend were sitting, dejected.
However, I was insistent that we would not give up. We had driven all the way here. Why the heck not?
So we found a church located right down the road from this neighborhood and the first one we’d driven to that bordered the same woods harboring the abandoned amusement park.
We decided to try to get into the park that way. My dad and my sister’s friend decided not to come this time, too. Ah, well. So it was left to my sister and I.
We walked through the sopping ground behind the church until we found a stream. I was considering giving up again when my sister pointed out a log we could cross. So we did. We continued to trek through the swampy grassland and prickly-plant-filled underbrush, wondering where we were going.
I ventured ahead to see if I could find anything. Finally, in the distance, I spotted it—the ghost of a Ferris wheel.
The amusement park was definitely worth the effort. We discovered rusty skeletons of former rides, bumper cars that had been consumed by vegetation, and the beautiful Ferris wheel itself. It was obvious that this park is visited a lot despite the “NO TRESPASSING” signs since we found a lot of graffiti, dog poop, and a definite path leading to the park.
Also, inexplicably, a bright red fire hydrant, right next to a dilapidated building, which we still can’t explain.
While we’d been cutting through the woods to find the park, though, I must mention something. There had been this rusty grayish car that drove by once, revving its engine. And as we kept walking, we kept hearing the car and its engine. The driver was obviously watching us, or so we thought.
And as we were walking back to my dad’s car, we started hearing gun shots. To put it simply, we got out of there as fast as we could.