Whalom Park – An Abandoned American Amusement Park

The lift hill of the Flyer Comet at Whalom Park

Whalom Park was an amusement park in Lunenburg, Massachusetts that was open from 1893 to 2000. First opened as an English style park of gardens and paths, Whalom Park was in operation for 107 seasons before it closed and was left abandoned. Most of the structures were removed in 2006 to make way for condominiums.

Part of a damaged ride in Whalom Park

Part of a damaged ride in Whalom Park

Whalom Park was built by the Fitchbugy and Leominster Street Railway as a trolley park. In the early 19th century, trolley parks became popular along or at the ends of streetcar lines in many larger cities. The idea behind the trolley parks was to get people to use the street car services on the weekends. To that end, they were quite successful. Undoubtedly, the most famous of these trolley parks is Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Some, like Kennywood in Pennsylvania, have expanded into modern amusement parks. There are only thirteen of the original trolley parks operating in the United States today.

Originally, trolley parks took inspiration from European pleasure gardens such as Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. At first, they featured picnic areas and pavilions with events such as dances, fireworks and concerts but they began to expand, adding features like swimming pools, roller coasters, ferris wheels, carousels and more. By 1920, there were approximately 1,500 trolley parks in operation in the United States entertaining millions of people. By the end of the decade, that number began to decline rapidly as streetcars fought for relevance against the automobile. The Great Depression in 1929 saw the end of many of the trolley parks.

An early postcard from Whalom Park

An early postcard from Whalom Park

Whalom Park survived the depression and continued to operate until 2000. At that time, it was the second-oldest trolley park in the world and the 13th oldest amusement park in the United States. It had been in operation for 107 years.

Abandoned games in Whalom Park

Abandoned games in Whalom Park

One of the most popular rides in the park was The Flyer Comet, a wooden roller coaster that opened in 1940. It was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company which also built a number of roller coasters for Coney Island (none of which remain) and Blue Flyer at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England which is still in operation. The Flyer Comet remained in Whalom Park until it closed and was eventually demolished in October 2006.

The entrance of the Flyer Comet

The entrance of the Flyer Comet from when the park was open

A view from the top of the Flyer Comet

A view from the top of the Flyer Comet from when the park was abandoned

The carousel in Whalom Park was built by Looff in 1906 after he had created a number of attractions in New York and New England. At the time of the closure, the carousel was sold off horse by horse in an auction in order to pay debts. A fire in the funhouse had furthered the parks problems before this and seemed to speed up the amusement park’s demise. After entertaining the people of Lunenburg and beyond for 107 years, Whalom Park finally reached the end of the line.

Location: Lunenburg, Massachusetts, USA 🇺🇸
Abandoned: 2000

21 thoughts on “Whalom Park – An Abandoned American Amusement Park”

  1. My grandparents brought my sister and me there every summer. We always looked forward to the trip especially the Fun House. Got lots of bumps and bruises on that disc like thing that spun around faster and faster flinging everyone off one by one into the low wooden wall surrounding it! Often wonder how many broken bones resulted from it and how today it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. Wish I knew where all the pictures went that my grandfather took. Great, fun memories.

  2. I Really would love to bring all those fabulous fun exciting family memories of Whalon Park to life again. We would visit every chance we could. I am one of 10 children and my five cousins live with us. We go from Worcester for a nice ride. Although we go in a few cars we make it. My Dad use to save match books and stamps from gas station to make it affordable. Sure do miss it

  3. Bonnie Jean Cousineau

    My experience with Whalom Park goes way back to the 40’s. The merry-go-round, the whip and the little fire trucks were favorites and I would have loved to go on the roller coaster but I was too small. We lived in Holyoke but visited Lancaster often because my grandparents lived there and would take me to Whalom every summer.

    In Holyoke, we went to Mountain Park, which was another park that lasted almost 100 years, closing in 1987. Thankfully, the carousel was saved and was brought to a city park where today’s children can enjoy riding it.

    I am too old to go to amusement parks any more, but have splendid memories of the many I visited, from Whalom Park to Six Flags to Disney world. I loved them all

  4. Whalom is one of my fondest memories of growing up in Gardner, just down the road from the park. I would beg and cry until my Dad would take me there, usually filling up the ’57 Chevy station wagon with neighborhood kids and seemingly enjoying it along with us. I can close my eyes and still see the Flyer roller coaster, and even more vividly the rockets circling at the entrance! I can also still hear the distinct train whistle as it moved thru the tunnel. Then there was the penny arcade, where I collected (and recently sold on eBay) black and white picture cards of celebrities. Anyone else remember the Fun House, the end of which was sitting on a rug and zooming down the slide leading to the exit? MAN I loved that. And finally, I only went to the Whalom Playhouse to see two shows. First was a play with Harry Morgan; had no idea who he was, but was asked by a neighbor kid to go with him. And second was to see the road show presentation of The Howdy Doody Show with Buffalo Bob Smith. I can still remember being SO excited….yet also SO disappointed that “Buffalo Bob” was not the same Buffalo Bob that was on television! As a child, I couldn’t figure out why there were TWO Buffalo Bobs. My Dad told me that this was Buffalo Bob’s cousin….and that satisfied me. I could go on for pages about my thrills at Whalom. And when I became a teenager and discovered the wonderful world of girls, it was a premier date night spot for me. THANKS Whalom Park!

    1. I can remember going there in the 70’s when i was a kid and my dad was stationed at Fort Devens in Ayer. This was the first time that I had ever been on a roller coaster and I was scared shitless. Of course, once i saw how much fun it was I had to go on it again. I remember there was also a ride called either the Pirates Den or Pirates Cove, but I can’t remember the name. All in all it was a part of my childhood that I miss the most, especially living on base. One of these days I will return to the area to see how much it has changed, of which I am told it has a lot. I’m also curious what the Ayer high school looks like now, as I spent my Freshman and sophomore years there before my dad retired from the Army in 1978 at Fort Devens and we moved here to Northern New York.

  5. Grew up on Florence St about 3 minutes from park entrance. Had a collection of every color bracelet and clip so we could get in any day by checking the color combo for the day pass bracelet. My grandfather worker there. My parents met at lakefront and I worked there in mid and late 80s as well. Always miss those years.

  6. Whalom was an interesting park. It was small enough you could have a fun tome in late evening getting in a few rides over the last few ours of the parks operating day or spend a whole day taking in not only the ride but the lake and water slides. While the park did sell of its horses they managed to get a few of them loaned back to them along with many loaner horses to fill the menagerie over the last few years of operation. The park did however operate a number of classic rides only found at a handful of other parks around the word. I personally have many fond memories of the park and its rides.

  7. Spent many days at that ol park . Childhood in the 60s was such a easy , easier time in life . I grew up in Erving Mass . Left the earea in 1979 joining the UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS . Whenever I hear about Whalom park , I kinda smile and think how the kids of these days have missed out on a special time and place .

  8. Grew up going there once a year with my dad’s company in the 80’s. . The yearly trip we always looked forward to.
    Loved the Whip, Tumblebug, Turnpike, big slide, octopus, bouncer, ….. and of course the fun house. The Comet was my first coaster! Scrambler, Tilt-a-world, and round-up were classics as well.

    It’s too bad no one could buy it out and keep it going.

  9. My Dad worked for Sanders Associates in Nashua New Hampshire in the 70’s and every summer his company would give employees free tickets and have a company picnic day on a Saturday every August I looked forward to it every year ride the flyer comet many times but my favorite ride was the Whip and the scrambler which was enclosed and would place music have neon lights and the end of the ride they played the them from Space Odyssey which was very cool! They had a cool haunted house

  10. Some of my favorite childhood memories were in this park. Breakers my heart to watch videos of it’s demise. Such a happy place in it’s day

  11. Hi I’m wondering if I could use your footage of Whalom Park? I’m with the Leominster Historical Commission and I’m putting together a new documentary. I’ll give you credit on the tagline. The video is for educational use only no profit will be made from the video. Thanks Ron (978) 870-4703

    1. Hi Ron. The video is from YouTube so you’ll have to ask the rights holder there for use. We’ve just embedded it into our story.

  12. I remember riding on the fire truck ride, back in the 40’s when the ride was set up next to the ball room, across from the park office. I lived in Fitchburg, Highland Ave, We took the track-less trolley from depot sq, down summer st, up the old bus rt at the leominster line, to the park, where the trolley cars turned around, which became an ice cream stand in the early 50’s. in 52,my dad built a house on wilder rd,over looking the lake, i was then 12. the next two summers i spent half my time in the lake at the cove at the foot of wilder rd. (the summer of 54, i swam around,with a row boat beside me, the lake, cut off the coves, like angels ,ect.) took me several hours) summer of 55 i worked at the rose garden making pop corn, and eating fried clams, when i could. ( frid clams then were .45 for a half pt., 85 for a pt and 1.60 for a qt) in the summers of 56,57, and 58 i worked at kiddie land. operating the rides I rode on in the 40’s. ( the first summer we lived on wilder rd,, 1952,, JOHN wAYNE stayed in the house across the street from us. he was in a play at the play house. didn’t meet him, but saw him to a from his lemo, in and out of the house. the wife of the house worked on broadway, a regular person, and invited him to stay at her house while he was at the play house. I kept my residents there till i got married in 72, wasn’t always there, went off driving truck and interstate bus. ain’t the neighbor hood i grew up any more. in pepperell now for 44yr. miss Cappy’s

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