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A new book about old-fashioned fun

August 08, 2005

SALISBURY, Md. - From Washington County's Pen Mar Park to the historic Trimper's Rides and Amusements in Ocean City, Md., has been home to nearly three dozen amusement parks since 1876. Award-winning author and photographer Jason Rhodes shares vintage images and histories of these parks in the new book "Maryland's Amusement Parks," part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series.

"I have always loved amusement parks," Rhodes said. "This was a way for me to make sure some of those parks, their rides and their significance to their communities, were not forgotten." Some of those rides were exclusive to Maryland. At Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County, the Hydraulic Dive combined a roller coaster and water flume popular with riders - but not with its operators who found themselves soaked over and over as the train made its way down the watery chute. Designed exclusively for the park, it was the only one ever built.

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Other unique attractions were not rides at all. At Tolchester Beach Park in Kent County, a popular 1889 addition was the Whale, a real whale caught in New England, embalmed in Boston and exhibited at fairs and parks along the East Coast. The whale's tongue removed and carpeting installed in its place, the animal's mouth became a popular location for ladies' teas and men's oyster suppers that year. Maryland parks also played important roles in national amusement park history. The state's first amusement park, Cabin John Park in Montgomery County, featured some of the earliest rides by famed carousel carver Gustav Dentzel and roller coaster and Scenic Railway pioneer L.A. Thompson. Decades later in 1955, Howard County's Enchanted Forest became the first theme park in the eastern United States, opening just weeks after the first theme park of all time, Disneyland.

The book includes information on the following locations:

Anne Arundel County - Carr's Beach Amusement Park.

Baltimore City and County - Bay Shore Park, Carlin's/Liberty Heights Park, Eastern Amusement Park, Elected Park, Frederick Road Park, Gwynn Oak Park, Hollywood Park, Lakeside Park, The Power Plant and Wonderland Park.

Calvert County - Chesapeake Beach/Seaside Amusement Park.

Charles County - Marshall Hall Park.

Frederick County - Braddock Heights Park.

Howard County - The Enchanted Forest.

Frederick County - Braddock Heights Park.

Howard County - The Enchanted Forest.

Kent County - Tolchester Beach Amusement Park.

Montgomery County - Bethesda Park, Cabin John Park, Glen Echo Park and Kiddieland.

Prince George's County - Adventure World/Wild World/Six Flags America, Notley Hall/Washington Park and River View Park on the Potomac.

Somerset County - Asbury Park, Bay Ridge Park and Central Park/Hastings Electric Park.

Washington County - Pen Mar Park.

Worchester County - Frontier Town, Jolly Roger, Pier Rides and Amusements, Playland and Trimper's Rides and Amusements.

The book is available at stores throughout Maryland, as well as book sales Web sites including Amazon.com and Barnsandnoble.com. It also is available directly from the publisher at www.arcadiapublishing.com.

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