Category Archives: Outside The Park

Lagoon And The Fair, Part III: The World’s Fair

1893 World's Columbian Exposition
Along the Plaisance by C. Graham

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was held in Chicago as a tribute to four centuries since Columbus landed in North America. It would become recognized as a pivotal point in history and culture. Many innovations were introduced at or inspired by this fair including the Ferris Wheel, the Midway, Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum and Quaker Oats to name a few. It became a standard for future world’s fairs as well as amusement parks, which were increasing in popularity. Among the millions of attendees was Simon Bamberger, a German immigrant who had become an entrepreneur in Utah’s mining and railroad industries. Beginning with his involvement in the Lake Park resort on the Great Salt Lake, Bamberger strove to create a place of beauty and joy. In an age of rapid growth in urban and industrial areas, the exposition with its White City sharply contrasted with American cities at the time. It portrayed the idea of a utopian society which served as added inspiration for Bamberger. After the level of the Great Salt Lake had lowered and left many resorts far from its shore, Simon Bamberger looked inland and with the ideas sparked by the exposition, he created the three-acre Eden Park at the end of his Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway in Bountiful in 1894. The railway benefited from traffic to the park. When it was decided to extend the line north to Ogden, plans for a larger park to be located at the halfway point were developed. A large man-made lagoon was excavated west of Farmington, buildings and equipment were brought in from Lake Park and the new park, Lagoon, opened there in July 1896.

While the 1893 exposition contributed to the origin of Lagoon, the park’s management in later decades brought home some significant souvenirs of their own. Following are the stories of three World’s Fair attractions that were relocated to Lagoon in the 1960s and ’70s.


Wild Mouse at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. Photo from Roller Coasters of the Pacific Northwest, uncredited.
Wild Mouse at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. Photo from Roller Coasters of the Pacific Northwest, photographer unknown

The tight turns and quick movements of the Wild Mouse was an unforgettable experience for many including Seattle native Bill Gates, who recalled this and the monorail as his favorite rides at the fair. It continued operating on the fairgrounds after the exposition closed until Lagoon bought the ride and it opened as part of a new expansion north of the park. It operated just north of the Bamberger Fountain from 1965 to 1971. There has been conflicting information about whether or not it was the same Wild Mouse that ran from 1973 to 1989 on the South Midway, but it’s possible that it was the same ride.


Transportation was a necessity of modern fairs that sprawled across hundreds of acres of land. For the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Greyhound had a large fleet of vehicles built to relieve weary visitors. There were smaller, golf cart-like vehicles called Escorters and three-car trams called Glide-A-Rides. After the fair they were sold off at $5,000 each. One Glide-A-Ride tram was sold to Lagoon who called it the Picnic Train and used it to carry park guests between the parking lot and picnic terraces. So far, I haven’t come across any information about how long this was in use at Lagoon or what became of it.

This photo is claimed to be the Jet Star 2 at Expo '74. Photographer unknown
This photo is reportedly the Jet Star 2 at Expo ’74. Photographer unknown

EXPO ’74 – SPOKANE 1974

The smallest city to hold a World’s Fair was Spokane, Washington in 1974. Railyards and abandoned buildings were cleared away near the Spokane River to provide space for the fair, but also to rejuvenate the city’s center. The star of the fair’s Great Northwest Midway was an innovative Schwarzkopf roller coaster called Jet Star 2. Lagoon bought the Jet Star 2 and it opened there in 1976. It was the park’s fourth roller coaster at the time and has been operating in the same location for over 30 years.



Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: The Davis County Fair

Lagoon And The Fair, Part II: The Utah State Fair

Wild Mouse (1965)

Picnic Train

Jet Star 2



Lagoon Sets 69th Season. Deseret News, 26 May 1965.

Bargains – The Great Souvenir Sale. Time, 8 Oct 1965.

Fun Way To Picnic. Deseret News, 6 Apr 1966.

Smith, Jacob. The Lagoon Resort: A Thrilling Urban Escape. 2005.

Top 10 Bill Gates anecdotes from his early days. Instant Seattle, accessed 13 Jan 2011.

World’s Columbian Exposition., accessed 3 Jul 2013.

Glide-A-Rides. New York World’s Fair 1964/1965, accessed 30 Jul 2013.

Greyhound Escorter. The World’s Fair Community, accessed 30 Jul 2013.

Amusements. Expo ’74: The Spokane World’s Fair, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

History. Expo ’74: The Spokane World’s Fair, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

The Legacy of the Fair. World’s Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath, accessed 29 Aug 2013.

Majestic Park

Every once in awhile I’m going to deviate from the topic of Lagoon to explore other parks and resorts in the area. I had never heard of Majestic Park in Salt Lake City until a few months ago while searching for details on an early coaster which Richard Munch’s 1991 Roller Coaster Directory claims existed at Lagoon under the name “Race Through The Clouds”. I was also unaware that a scenic railway once operated on the grounds of the Salt Palace so there is sure to be much more interesting history yet to be rediscovered about the area.


Standing at the 900 South entrance to Ken Garff Honda in Salt Lake City, it may be hard to imagine a 300-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower standing as the entrance to what was once envisioned to be the city’s amusement center. But that’s exactly what the Majestic Park Company had in mind.

Majest Park drawing.
Proposed additions to Majestic Park in a 1915 newspaper ad.

Majestic Park opened around 1913 on the grounds of the original Salt Palace which burned down in August 1910. It featured a 23,000-square-foot dance hall and baseball diamond which was home to the original Salt Lake Bees franchise starting in 1915. There was also a bicycle track which could have been a remnant from the days of the Salt Palace.

In early 1915, a series of ads were placed in newspapers to attract investors. These advertisements announced big plans for the park’s future including:

  • 300-foot electrified replica of the Eiffel Tower
  • Racing coaster “similar to ‘Race Through the Clouds’ at Venice, Cal.”
  • Carousel, slides and various concessions
  • Natatorium with 75 x 150-foot swimming pool
  • A larger, 40,000-square-foot dance hall
  • Roller skating rink measuring 60 x 130 feet
  • Roof garden
Dominion Park
Illustration: Eugen Haberer

The park was to be designed by James Carey of New York who also designed the original Luna Park at Coney Island and Dominion Park in Montreal. Both parks featured a single, large tower as a focal point much like the Eiffel Tower replica that would have been at Majestic Park.

As far as I can tell, the Eiffel Tower, swimming pool, roof garden and racing coaster were never built and Majestic Park never seemed to fully evolve into the amusement park it was meant to be. A larger dance pavilion was built in 1916 and the name changed to Bonneville Park the following November.

Construction on dance hall at Majestic Park, 1916.
New dance hall under construction, 23 Jul 1916. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The Salt Lake Bees continued to play there until the franchise moved to Hollywood after the 1925 season¹. Meanwhile a new Salt Lake Bees team was created for the Utah-Idaho League and later the Pioneer League. Another season was played at Bonneville Park after the war, but the stadium suffered a fire just days after the playoffs ended. Salt Lake Tribune sports editor, John C. Derks headed an effort to rebuild a new stadium on a vacant lot a few blocks south which would be named Derks Field in his honor. This was replaced with the new Franklin Quest Field (now SpringMobile Ballpark) in 1994.

In the ’60s, the southern half of the former Bonneville Park was occupied by a Ramada Inn, which later became a Holiday Inn and is now a transitional center for the homeless called Palmer Court.



1. The original Salt Lake Bees franchise started out in Sacramento in 1903 and then moved to Tacoma, back to Sacramento and to San Francisco before settling in Salt Lake City. As part of the Pacific Coast League, the other teams were a good distance away from Salt Lake City. High travel expenses led to the decision to move the team to Hollywood where it later became the Hollywood Stars. The Hollywood Stars moved again in 1936 when they became the original San Diego Padres. The franchise came to an end in 1968 after the owner at the time, C. Arnholdt Smith, won a bid for a National League expansion team. He used the same name of his old team when he created the San Diego Padres we know today.



Pavilion At Majestic Park. Deseret News, 26 May 1913.

Majestic Park Company advertisement. Deseret News, 26 Feb 1915.

Majestic Park Company advertisement. Deseret News, 1 Mar 1915.

Permanent Home Is Planned For Bees. Deseret News, 16 Sep 1915.

F.S. Murphy Says Baseball Club Had No Interest In License. Deseret News, 11 Mar 1916.

Majestic Park To Be Amusement Center. Deseret News, 24 Apr 1916.

Majestic Park Opens. Deseret News, 31 May 1916.

Park Name Changed. Deseret News, 4 Nov 1916.

Games of Chance at Bonneville Park Closed. Deseret News, 6 Oct 1917.

Idaho Falls And Pocatello Ready To Enter New Ball Circuit. Deseret News, 9 Feb 1926.

Writers Plan Plaque; Spur Derks Dedication. Deseret News, 25 Jul 1948.

Schindler, Hal. Utah Grows Up With the New Century. The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Jan 1996.

Zingg, Paul J. & Mark D. Medeiros. Runs, Hits and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-58. University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Dominion Park. Closed Canadian Parks, accessed 18 Mar 2011.

History – Salt Lake Bees Spring Mobile Ballpark., accessed 29 Jun 2011.

RE: Lagoon’s Herschell Kiddie Coaster. Email message sent to author from Duane M., 6 Mar 2004.

Old Sow Cannon

An old iron cannon used to start off Lagoon’s summer firework displays now rests in front of the Farmington City Historical Museum. The plaque beneath it states it was also used “in the Morrisite Battle at Uintah at the mouth of Weber Canyon in 1862.” Included below are some accounts from two long-time Farmington residents.

Photo published in the Davis County Clipper, 13 Aug 1976.
Photo published in the Davis County Clipper, 13 Aug 1976.

Milton Hess built many of Lagoon’s original buildings including the original Fun House and Shoot-The-Chutes ride. After leaving for other work, he was asked by Julian Bamberger to return and move his family to a house next to the park which had been relocated from Lake Park. His wife, Margaret Steed Hess, wrote a history of Farmington in which she shared her memory of the cannon, nick-named the “Old Sow”.

“On the 4th and 24th of July my husband (Milton) would stuff the ‘Old Sow’ cannon with rags and powder, over on the south side of the east pond, and when it got dark enough he would touch a match to the cannon and ‘Boom-boom’ the noisy thing would nearly blast off your head if you were too close to it. Then all the fireworks would be set off.”

Another history of Farmington by well-known educator, George Q. Knowlton, included these stories about the cannon.

“The old cannon that the pioneers brought across the plains used to be at the Lagoon, and was fired on big holidays. One day some boys loaded it with rocks and blew the top off the skating rink.”

“. . . for a long time it disappeared. Finally Dr. R.C. Robinson found it buried in the south bank of the Lagoon Pond. He dug it out, cleaned it up, and with the aid of Horace Van Fleet brought it up into town, and had it mounted on wheels.”

The east pond mentioned in Margaret Hess’ account is basically the portion of Lagoon Lake that remains today. Originally, another pond connected to it on the west side where the South Midway is now. The plaque on the memorial was placed in 1947 so it might be that the cannon was forgotten while Lagoon closed during World War II, if not earlier. As George Knowlton says, it was found in the same south bank of the pond. It probably sunk into the soft ground because of its weight. The cannon was mounted by David Lund at what was then the City Hall (now a museum).

The cannon that sits there now is actually a replica. The original was moved to the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History in Missoula, Montana.



Old Sow Photos on Flickr.



Hess, Margaret Steed. My Farmington: 1847-1976. Daughters Of Utah Pioneers, Helen Mar Miller Camp, Farmington, Utah. 1976.

Knowlton, George Quincy. A Brief History Of Farmington Utah. Inland Printing, Kaysville, Utah. 1965.

Markers and Monuments Database – Pioneer Cannon. Utah History Resource Center, accessed 3 Jul 2011.

Discovering Lagoon…Outside Lagoon

I’ve stumbled upon a few items of interest relating to different Lagoon ventures outside the park. Aside from the obvious one (The Terrace), here is a short list with the few brief details I currently have.


Shortly after Trolley Square opened as a shopping mall in the 1970s, Lagoon Corporation began running an arcade there. Newspaper articles referred to it as both the Trolley Arcade & Amusement Center and Trolley Square Arcade & Amusement Center. Ads in the late ’70s call it Trolley Games. There was also a nondescript mention of a Trolley Electronics & Amusement Company around the time this arcade was completed, but I’ve found no confirmation that it was the same establishment. The arcade opened in December 1974. At least one person remembers it being “above Pizza Hut”. That would mean it was probably located on the second floor of what would later become the Hard Rock Cafe (and what is now Poundcakes and the Wiseguys Comedy Club). However, a visitor to the site remembers it this way:

“I remember that the arcade used to occupy both floors of that space, and the downstairs had a shooting gallery with all the usual sorts of neat stuff, like the hanging pans that would buck off the wall when you shot them, the piano player that would play a bit of a tune when you shot at him, etc.”

With Lagoon’s Penny Arcade simultaneously operating at the park, I have to wonder if some of the machines were used at both arcades at different times. It should be noted that other non-related arcades have been in business at Trolley Square over the years besides Lagoon’s.

Another arcade operated by Lagoon Corp. opened in Sugar House in early 1975. As of July of that year, three others were planned in Ogden and Salt Lake City, but the ad below from 1979 shows the only locations in Trolley Square and Liberty Park.


Lagoon operated a 1954 Arrow Merry-Go-Round at this Ogden park for an unknown period of time. As of 1984, Lagoon still had it in storage and had placed it up for sale. This leaves me with at least a couple questions. How many concessions could Lagoon have operated outside the park? Were any of the rides at Lagoon operated elsewhere by Lagoon Corporation before or after their time at the park?

Lagoon-A-Beach Togs
Photo: Paul Barker, Deseret News


A clothing line sold at J.C. Penney stores in the area during June and July of 1989. Designed by local artist Martin Blundell to help promote the new water park. The line featured swimsuits, sweatshirts and t-shirts that were specifically designed to endure water, sand and sun. They were later made available exclusively at Rad Brad’s Surf Rags at Lagoon with the possibility of expanding outside Utah if it became profitable enough.


When developments to the south shore of the Great Salt Lake were being considered, businesses were concerned about water and sewer lines being made available in the area before going ahead with plans. Boyd F. Jensen represented Lagoon at an October 1977 public meeting with the Great Salt Lake Development Study Team. Concerning Lagoon’s involvement, the article simply stated, “…Lagoon owners are not interested in building an amusement park on the lake, but they might operate a restaurant if adequate utilities are provided.”



Read more about The Terrace.



Trolley Square still growing. Deseret News, 14 Dec 1974.

Lagoon can turn a frown upside down. Deseret News, 5 Apr 1975.

Trolley Square’s new ‘street’. Deseret News, 18 Nov 1975.

Saltair improvements debated. Deseret News, 21 Oct 1977.

Carrousels: A ride that builds memories. Deseret News, 17 Jun 1984.

Lagoon-A-Beach togs are making a splash. Deseret News, 17 Jul 1989.

Trolley Square?. Unknown forum post, 8 May 2001.

Trolley Square Store Directory. Trolley, accessed 2 Jan 2011.

RE: Lagoon Photos. Message to author from Sam W., 18 Feb 2011.