As another summer is upon us, it is hard to believe that the town's local amusement park is not only gone but that it was completely dismantled over 23 years ago.
Lakeview Amusement Park was located on Township Line Road just outside the borough of Royersford on a 40 acre tract that included the area where Kohl's and Marshall's now stand. The huge spring filled lake, from which the park got its name, has now been downsized to a small pond near 10th Avenue.
The farm property was acquired by Benjamin P. Kern in 1900. In those early years, family picnics and swimming were popular activities at the lake. For a time the lake's primary use was the harvesting of ice. In the winter months, Kern would cut large chunks of ice from the frozen lake and store them in an ice house. He had a delivery route in Royersford where he delivered these blocks of ice to his customers. Electric refrigerators would soon replace the ice boxes, however, and by 1920 the lake was used primarily for recreation.
As longtime locals tell it, Kern purchased a small motorboat to run on his lake in the summer months. People passing by would stop and stare at the little speedboat, which was something of a marvel prior to the 1920's. Benjamin decided to offer power boat rides around the lake at 5 cents a trip. This
attracted long lines of people, standing in his field on the weekends, eagerly
awaiting an exciting boat ride.
Kern soon realized the potential to develop his farm property into an amusement park by adding more rides. In 1919 he purchased a 20 passenger boat to provide guests with a lake cruise. As the park grew, organized groups would book the park for picnics and special events. The largest annual picnic at Lakeview was
the Montgomery County Farmer's Picnic.
Kern continued to make improvements to Lakeview over the years. In 1926 he had plans drawn up to erect an auditorium that measured 80 by 160 feet. It would debut the following year. A special Golden Anniversary, commemorating Royersford's 50th Anniversary was held there in 1929.
The lunch pavilion could handle 400 diners at once. In 1933 an advertisement credited B. P. Kern as "the man whose vision and foresight transformed a farm into an ideal amusement park."
In 1937, a flyer in the local paper, declared that Benjamin M. Kern, son of the late B. P. Kern, would continue to operate the 40 plus acre Lakeview Park under the same high standards established by his father.
Attractions in operation at that time included the Carousel, the Whip, the Shooting Gallery and the Walking Charlie. The lake had offered a sand beach for swimmers and other activities advertised were baseball fields, tennis courts and a concert bandstand.
The 22nd annual Montgomery County Farmer's Picnic was held in August of 1941. This affair was sponsored by the Royersford Lion's Club and included a variety of events including cattle exhibits and steer throwings demonstrations. Part of the two days entertainment included Harry Foster Welch, who was well known as the voice behind Popeye in radio and screen productions. Admission to the fair was 10 cents for adults and kids got in free. Spectacular Fireworks on the last night was
always the highlight of the picnic.
In 1958, when our family moved to Spring City, I can remember going to the park and paying 25 cents to go swimming. The sand beach went out about 6 feet and then it was mud and muck. The lake was definitely spring fed as you could stand in spots where the water was cold as ice as it came up from the springs below. There weren't many people that used the facility for swimming during this period of time. Swimming pools were now the place to go.
In 1964 the park boasted 26 rides and on a Friday night $1.00 would buy you unlimited rides at the park. A high slide for kids and an 18 hole miniature golf course for the family had also been added to their list of attractions.
Lakeview Amusement Park declined in the following years and the first major blow came in 1986 when the carousel was auctioned off. It was built by the Allan Herschell Co. in 1916 and acquired by Lakeview in 1954. They could no longer afford to maintain the ride and were forced to sell it. Norton of Michigan handled the auction.
In August of 1991 Norton returned to Royersford to sell all of the remainder of the rides and amusement park items that remained. Among the items offered was the Park Train, Bumper Cars, Wild Mouse, Zyklon Steel Coaster, Dark Ride, Twister, Scranbler, Alpine Sky Ride, Water Plume, Eli Ferris Wheel, Whip Tilt -a - Whirl, Roto-Jet. Paddle Wheel Boats on the lake, a Little Dipper Coaster and several other smaller kiddie rides.