Mansfield’s Summer Amusement: Luna-Casino Park

Summer has officially begun!

Today many people flock to large amusement parks like Cedar Point and Kings Island for summer break fun, but in the history of Mansfield that distinctive roller coaster thrill could be found much closer to home at Luna-Casino Park, on what had been the Sherman-Heineman Park and what is now North Lake Park. The following are postcards depicting various aspects of this park from the Sherman Room Digital Archive postcard collection.

In 1899, the Mansfield News published an article reflecting on the “Growth of Mansfield,” in which it was noted that Mansfield had two well-kept parks, Central Park and Sherman-Heineman Park. At the time, Sherman-Heineman Park consisted of 80 acres with 25 acres being forest, and it boasted nice walkways and artificial lakes. With these amenities, it was a popular spot for picnics and other outdoor social gatherings [Mansfield News, 05 Feb 1899, pg. 9].

By 1905, when the roller coaster began operation, the Sherman-Heineman park had gained an additional two names, Casino Park and Luna Park, as well as a number of new attractions. Now in addition to the water and the walkways, the parks boasted a dancing pavilion, a “figure eight” roller coaster, a shooting gallery, the Casino theater (complete with a fresh coat of paint), a merry-go-round, and a swimming pool [Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 May 1905].

The roller coaster opened in 1905, just in time for a debate around Blue Laws, or laws restricting activities that can be done on Sunday (a common Blue Law was a prohibition against selling or purchasing alcohol on Sunday). A group of four local reverends petitioned Mayor Huntington Brown to ensure that many of the amusements at Luna Park would be kept shut on Sundays, specifically including the shooting ranges and the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster was not yet operational, the group also stated that they wanted the roller coaster to be prohibited on Sundays as well [Mansfield Daily Shield, 27 Jun 1907, pg. 6].

However, the owner of the “amusements” at issue, G. W. Bahl determined that the summer fun would indeed continue on Sunday, despite anticipating that at least one arrest might result, as the local group had threatened. And it appeared that the summer fun won out, because on Monday it was reported that all the amusements had been open and well-attended on Sunday, and no arrests had been made.

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Postcards: Mansfield, Ohio City Parks

Mansfield, Ohio is commonly referred to as a “City of Churches,” but at the turn of the century Mansfield also has its fair share of parks.

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In A. J. Baughman’s History of Richland County, Ohio, from 1808 to 1908, he states that Mansfield is a “city of about twenty-four thousand people and covering about three thousand acres of ground, about one hundred and ten of which are in parks owned and maintained by the city, one of which is at the edge of the city and contains eighty-six acres, and one in the center of the city of about one and one-half acres.” There are “Also two private parks (free admission) with the usual amusements.”  These “usual amusements” included attractions like a dancing pavilion and roller coaster.

If you would like to see more of the photos the Sherman Room and the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library have available, please check out our page on The Cleveland Memory Project, where there are over 1030 images digitized.   These included more images of Mansfield City Parks, as well as images of other local landmarks and individuals.

Click on card to view a larger image.