Out of the Loop: Conneaut Lake Park tries for National Historic Preservation Grant

By Andy Guinigundo

When last we heard from our friends at Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania, they had just won a Pepsi “Refresh” $50,000 grant to go toward the restoration of their classic Blue Steak roller coaster. This grant plus the continuing support of park fans and coaster enthusiasts have made it possible for the Blue Streak to remain open for the whole 2011 season, the first time in a long time, and hopefully for seasons to come.

Click Here to learn more about the Blue Streak and the park’s history in my original article.

This 119th Anniversary year, Conneaut Lake Park hopes to build upon that success by winning another grant, this time from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to save America’s diverse historic places and revitalize our communities. I think this describes them best: “When historic buildings and neighborhoods are torn down or allowed to deteriorate, a part of our past disappears forever. When that happens, we lose history that helps us know who we are, and we lose opportunities to live and work in the kinds of interesting and attractive surroundings that older buildings can provide.”

Here is a video that describes the work they do:

The campaign is called the 2011 This Place Matters Community Challenge. Of 250 submissions, Conneaut Lake Park was one of 100 chosen to compete for three available grants of $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000. Supporters are asked to go the website and cast a single vote to back the site of their choice. CLP Trustee Lisa Rawson commented, “We are honored to have been selected to participate in this challenge; it demonstrates the historical significance of our park, which has touched the lives of so many people. With the demise of many amusement parks, we are working hard to keep Conneaut Lake Park a place where generations can continue to enjoy, remember, and reunite.”

So, why does “this place matter”? Well, chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are a theme park/amusement park fan. To me, these parks are a place of great joy. In particular, older parks are a slice of Americana that connects us to a collective past. People like Walt Disney surely visited places like Conneaut Lake Park on the road to building their own parks. As amusement park fans, we should want to preserve this part of American history. Whether or not you have ever been to Conneaut Lake Park, the preservation of such places for the next generation should be the ultimate goal.

Voting for the 2011 This Place Matter Community Challenge ends today, June 30, 2011 at 5 p.m. EST and can be accessed here: PreservationNation.org/communitychallenge. You’ll need to click on the List of Sites link, and then click the link for the project page listed as Conneaut Lake Institute. An e-mail address gets you one vote.

If you are interested in the Blue Streak Roller Coaster or wish to donate to the restoration fund you can still do so by going Clicking Here.

Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.


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