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Pennsylvania’s creepiest abandoned amusement Park: The Williams Grove

Jack Beckett

Williams Grove Amusement Park was a family-oriented amusement park located just outside Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, that operated from 1850 until 2005.

For the past decade, its remains have slowly decayed, becoming more and more overgrown with each passing year.

Change Booth. Source

Change Booth. Author: David Trawin CC BY-SA 2.0

Williams Grove Amusement Park has quite a long-standing history. The Williams family began hosting picnics and social activities in the village of Williams Grove as early as the 1850s. Within two decades the park had grown into the Mechanicsburg Fairgrounds.

After World War I, the park’s ownership changed hands several times with the first rides appearing in 1928 courtesy of its then-owners. The adjacent Williams Grove Speedway half-mile track opened in 1938, just prior to World War II.

Ownership changed hands several over the years and it grew into a pay-per-ride amusement park in the late 1920s. Source

Ownership changed hands several over the years and it grew into a pay-per-ride amusement park in the late 1920s. Author: dfirecop CC BY-ND 2.0

In 1972, Morgan Hughes, an Irishman who had served in the Second World War with the British Army’s Royal Irish Fusiliers, purchased the park for $1.2 million and many of the rides from the defunct New Jersey’s Palisades Amusement Park, which closed the same year, were relocated to Williams Grove.

The owners still live there and are trying to preserve the park. Source

The owners still live there and are trying to preserve the park. Author: dfirecop CC BY-ND 2.0

Williams Grove had its share of trials. Just after Hughes purchased the park in 1972, it was nearly destroyed in the summer of the same year due to Hurricane Agnes and the subsequent flooding from nearby Yellow Breeches Creek.

But Hughes rebuilt, with the park remaining in operation as a family-oriented attraction for over 30 more years.

Water park slide. Source

Water park slide. Author: David Trawin CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Water park. Source

Water park. Author: David Trawin CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cyclone Roller Coaster, a wooden roller coaster with a height of 65 feet high and the top speed of 45 mph, thrilled coaster enthusiast since 1933 and was the main ride attraction at the park. In the early 1980s, the park erected The Wildcat, a steel Wildcat-style roller coaster. The also park had two smaller coasters, Kiddie Coaster, 1992 until closing, and the Little Dipper, 1950 until 1963. There were also two fun-house rides and in the early 1980s the park erected one of the first water slides in the area.

The main ride attraction at the park - The Cyclone Roller Coasters. Source

The main ride attraction at the park – The Cyclone Roller Coasters. Author: dfirecop CC BY-ND 2.0

 

Top of the Roller Coaster. Source

Top of the Roller Coaster. Author: David Trawin CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Williams Grove Amusement Park officially closed in 2005. Source

Williams Grove Amusement Park officially closed in 2005. Author: dfirecop CC BY-ND 2.0

The Williams Grove operated until 2005 when the Hughes family decided to focus all of their energies on Williams Grove Speedway. By 2006, Hughes attempted to sell the property but was unable to find someone to purchase the park and keep it intact and operational. The rides were auctioned off the same year.