Side A: For seven glorious summers, from July 13, 1895 to July 27, 1902, laughter and gaiety rang forth from the first amusement park in Franklin County. With intoxicants banned, the Park was enjoyed by the “respectable” folk of the Gay ’90s – the stone water tower/jail was quick to house any ruffian who threatened disharmony. Delighting young and old were the Zoological Garden, Ornithological Museum, the Scenic Railway roller coaster, Shoot the Chutes (the water slide of its day), swimming, boating, baseball, bowling, concerts, dancing, picnics, strolls in the cool woodlands, pony rides, fireworks, the orchestrion replicating a 36-piece orchestra, grande vaudeville, and theater. Minerva Park’s popularity faded with the opening of Olentangy Park, only 3 miles from downtown Columbus.
Side B: At an August 1891 public meeting, Westerville citizens voiced indignation at the failure of the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway Co. to provide transportation for 400 passengers who had purchased tickets to the State Fair. The regular train had failed to stop, stranding the passengers for hours. Garry Waldo Meeker (1859-1917) suggested that an electric railway between Columbus and Westerville would be an indispensable public convenience. Four years later, he piloted the first electric car of the new Columbus Central Railway Co. from Broad & High into Westerville. To encourage ridership, Meeker conceived of a recreation park along the route, located on the 227-acre farmland that he had purchased in July 1892. Accommodating up to 25,000 visitors daily, the Park was named in honor of Minerva Shipherd, wife of John S. Shipherd (Cleveland), the first president of the new Railway Co. – not after the Roman goddess, as folklore suggests.
Sponsors: Minerva Park Community Association, Village of Minerva Park, and The Ohio Historical Society