Ran into a fun surprise park spot a few weekends back visiting Indian Lake, OH; Sandy Beach Park. While the park site is now apartments and condos, an iconic bridge and (yes, really) massive statue of Mother Mary remain from the park’s history:
Some history on the park, and it's fascinating demise:
Sandy Beach Amusement Park opened in 1924 at the "Midwest's Million Dollar Playground", featured a slew of attractions, an NAD woodie out and back, and bandstand that brought regular attendance throughout the 1920s - 1950s. Located along Indian Lake (built in 1850 as a feeder source for the Toledo-Cincinnati canal), the park split two banks of Russels Point harbor, featuring a bridge that connected the two banks for what would've been a gorgeous harbor view, similar to modern-day Gronalund.. While other parks struggled through the Great Depression, Sandy Beach's dance hall scene remained popular for summer vacationers and nearby cities (Dayton, Springfield, Columbus, Findlay, Lima).
Things started to take a turn in the 1950s, as dance halls began to fall out of fashion, and Sandy Beach struggled to pivot towards more modern-day amusement park attractions (cue Cedar Point, Wyandot Lake, Geaugea Lake, and Cincinnati Coney Island/Kings Island relocation who built larger amusement attractions that began poaching park goer attendance). The park was renamed to "San Juan Amusement Park" in an attempt to rebrand, but a fascinatingly wild series of 4th of July brawls between local biker gangs throughout the 1960s (yes, they essentially showed up in town to riot, every 4th of July) put a black mark on the park and surrounding area for tourism. While the riots were eventually tamped down, the tainted mark on the park remained. The park ownership solution? Build a 50 ft. tall statue of Mother Mary!
The park never regained it's footing, especially after the opening of Kings Island in 1975 as the next-nearest park and a cutting edge park of it's time, and closed in 1981.
The positive footnote to this story is that the bridge unifying the two sides of the park was never removed and was refurbished with local funds in 2014 to make it usable for pedestrian foot traffic.
It's definitely fascinating learning about the parks that "didn't make it", especially when neighbors with other historic/noted parks.