Arnolds Park Amusement Park and “Save the Park” Campaign
In 1889, a water toboggan slide near this pier was the beginning of the Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Toboggans and wool swim suits could be rented by the day.
Over the next century, the area, named after pioneer developer Wesley Arnold, became a favorite vacation spot. People flocked here seeking thrills of rides and roller coasters, the "brass ring" of the carousel, hours of fun in the Fun House, and dancing to big bands and rock 'n roll at the Roof Garden.
By 1991, the Maritime Museum was opened near the State Pier. In 1999, it moved into the new facility behind you. That same year, the cherished amusement park and adjoining property were sold for commercial development. The Maritime Museum led the charge to "Save the Park," the oldest amusement park west of the Mississippi
An amazing fundraiser ensued as the public's interest and passion were aroused. "Save the Park" became an all-consuming topic for 1999. In six weeks, over $7,500,000 in donations were contributed from individuals and businesses from all 50 states, 9 foreign countries, local municipal entities, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the State of Iowa. Large and small donations were given to "Save the Park" and to "Save the Green Space" around the park for future generations. The bricks on the path nearby commemorate many of those who
donated to the cause.
The Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum is dedicated to being a good steward of the amusement park and the adjoining green space. Please visit the museum to learn more about the fascinating history of the Iowa Great Lakes.
The Arnolds Park Amusement Park and Green Space were saved by generous, visionary people who wanted to preserve a piece of our history and lakeshore for future generations. To all those who contributed money or volunteered their time to the project we say, "Thanks, You Helped Save the Park."