Cedar Point History: 1905 – 1949

1870 – 1904  |  1905 – 1949  | 1950 – 1969  |  1970 – 1994  |  1995 – Present

Keeping with his plains to improve the park, Boeckling proposed a new massive hotel to be built on the beach side of the resort. The elegant Hotel Breakers was scheduled to open in June 1905 and incorporate imported wicker furniture and have Tiffany chandeliers in the lobby. A five-story high rotunda was built in the center of the hotel with a hollow interior, outlined in balconies for each of the five floors. This beautiful rotunda contained guestrooms where guests could peer from their room at the magnificent beach and lake below. A barbershop, news stand, ice cream parlor and souvenir counter were some of the other amenities the hotel offered. Each guestroom was fitted with tables, wicker rocking chairs, a double bed and a dresser.

The new hotel was such a great success that the next year Boeckling had a new structure built on the peninsula, which would later save the resort from closing. The Coliseum, erected in 1906, was constructed with two floors that contained 90,000 square feet of space. The building was built with high ceiling to keep the large structure cool on hot summer days. The Rathskeller on the first floor was filled with tables and chairs and sold different sorts of drinks to customers. On the second floor a wooden dance floor was built with a stage on one side of the room. Also added in 1906 was the Amusement Circle, which went from near the beach almost to the pier side of the resort. Some of the attractions in the semi-circle were a circle swing that gave riders the illusion of flying, a carousel which was said to be one of the finest of its time, “A Trip to Rockaway” that simulated a rocking boat, the Miniature Railway which cost five cents a ride and many other rides and attractions. A new steam engine powerhouse was built that year on an island in the lagoons and was used to power the many sights of the resort, including the new Amusement Circle. Near the Hotel Breakers, the resort also added two new dormitories to house all the seasonal help, which still house seasonal staff today.

Prior to 1907, large ships from Lake Erie cities would have to stop in Sandusky before reaching Cedar Point. In 1907, the Lake Landing was added to the western tip of the peninsula to drop off and pick up resort guests.

In 1908, the Dip the Dips Scenic Railway was constructed in the center of the midway with eighteen dips. Fifty-three feet in height and 4,200 feet long, this ride was said to go sixty miles per hour. It was later replaced in 1918 with the addition of the Leap Frog Railway. In an attractive grove near the new Coliseum a checkroom, which resembled a small pagoda, opened along with restrooms. Today the building is used as part of the Pagoda Gift Shop.

The famous steamer G. A. Boeckling was christened in June of 1909 and would carry passengers to Cedar Point from Sandusky for over forty years. This 155 foot vessel had a capacity of holding 660 people and was built by the Detroit’s Great Lakes Engineering Company.

In 1910, a new bathhouse was built on the spot of the old Three Way Figure Eight Roller Toboggan and was one of the largest in the world. Taking the place of the old ride was the new Racer roller coaster, which featured a forty-six foot tall hill and small dips, becoming Cedar Point’s first well-known roller coaster. Later that year, Glenn Curtiss made aviation history by flying over water from Euclid Beach in Cleveland to the Cedar Point beach. Curtiss broke a world record with his sixty-five mile flight over water and was only protected by an inner tube, if a crash would have occurred. Years after this historic flight, the novelty of flying was shown through souvenir photographs that gave the illusion that guests were soaring over the Cedar Point beach in Curtiss’s Albany Flyer.

The year 1912 saw the addition of a new roller coaster named the Leap the Dips. The ride was designed by Erwin Vettel and built on the bayside of the resort on the approximate site of the Blue Streak roller coaster. The Harton Company ran the seventy-foot-high ride, which prospered in its years of operation.
In the summer of 1913, Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais, two University of Notre Dame students, worked at the resort as lifeguards. When not working, the two worked on perfecting the football forward pass. Knute Rockne later became a famous football coach at the University and would send his team to Cedar Point to practice as well as work.

The seven-mile-long Chaussee was built in 1914 and connected Cedar Point to the mainland with a road. The Chaussee entrance was later moved in 1920 due to severe storms, which had wrecked the old road.
Cedars HotelThe peaceful Cedars Hotel opened in 1915, incorporating the three structures of the White House Hotel on the bayside of the resort. The 270-room hotel also had a cafeteria and public rooms with cozy corners that were graced with Tiffany stained glass windows and wicker furniture. The hotel itself exists today between the WildCat roller coaster and the perimeter road as a dormitory for seasonal workers.

The Dip the Dips Scenic Railway was converted into the Leap Frog Railway in 1918. Using part of the original ride, the Leap Frog reached a height of seventy feet and was built at a cost of $45,000. The station of the ride was built next to the Marble Palace and was said to be the longest and largest scenic railway in America, costing ten cents to ride.

Bon Air wing of the Hotel BreakersDuring Prohibition, Cedar Point suffered a great loss of income when the law banned alcoholic beverages. The Crystal Rock Castle, which dispensed alcohol before Prohibition, was converted into the Ye Old Castle Grill. Also the Rathskeller in the Coliseum dispensed soft drinks instead of alcohol. Even with this difficult situation, the park pulled through and even prospered.
During the 1920’s, the Amusement Circle section of the resort increased in popularity. Many new additions were made on the midway with some of the older attractions removed and replaced with more modern ones. In 1924, a section of rides for children was added to the midway.

The Bon Air wing of the Hotel Breakers was erected to the north side of the hotel in 1925. This 160-room wing remains today, dwarfed the Breakers Tower, which stands beside it. Also opening for the 1925 season was the Noah’s Ark, a funhouse that was themed from the famous bible story “Noah’s Ark.” Atop what appeared to be Mt. Arrant laid an ark with animals peering out the windows. To board the attraction, guests would ascend a flight of stairs and be greeted by mechanical stunts and displays inside while the boat rocked back and forth. At about the same time, the Inlet Trail was added to the resort. This paved road connected the steamer dock on the bay side of the peninsula with the resort area. Auto trains ran on the road, which transported guests usually to the Hotel Breakers.

The incredible blind and deaf Helen Keller made numerous speeches in her lifetime. One of these influential speeches was held in the Grand Pavilion. Helen Keller addressed the LIONS (Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety) national convention of 1925 during which she spoke to the members about the problem of blindness. Due to Helen’s speech, assistance of the blind has been the LIONS main charity service.

At the end of the decade, Cedar Point added a new roller coaster on the site of the recently razed Racer roller coaster. The intense Cedar Point Cyclone opened in 1929 and had a lift hill height of seventy-two feet. One of Harry Traver’s legendary coasters, the Cyclone was the last great addition to the park from George A. Boeckling. Boeckling himself wasn’t there to see his great roller coaster open to the public, due to severe illness.

On October 24th that year, about thirteen million shares of stock in the stock market were sold, which would cause the stock market to crash and take Cedar Point and the entire country into a depression. Like most resorts around the country, the park lost a great deal of money in the years of the Depression, which lasted until 1940. Most of the concessionaires that leased buildings in the Amusement circle lost business and struggled through the Depression. Also during the Depression, the Cedars Hotel closed due to poor hotel attendance and was used for employee dorms, like it is use today.

On July 24th, 1931, the great George A. Boeckling died of uremia. The entire resort mourned his death with all flags lowered to half-staff and he was buried in Sandusky, not far from his beloved Cedar Point. His legendary leadership was so great that it seemed impossible to fill his shoes. After some changes in park presidents, Edward Smith ran the resort for a number of years.

Tavern Terrace at the Hotel BreakersDespite all the recent hardships, the aging Leap Frog Railway was renovated, in 1933. The entire track from the Leap Frog was reconstructed except the original lift hill, which remained its height of seventy-four feet. The ride was then renamed the High Frolics and opened to the public for the 1934 season. Also that season the Tumble Bug was added to the midway. When in operation, the ride’s train would glide on a circular, hilly track.

The following year, the Leap the Dips roller coaster closed. The decaying structure remained standing for a few seasons until it was razed. Also in 1935, the Hotel Breakers was modernized and the Tavern Terrace was added near the hotel. The outdoor stage area provided entertainment from bands and offered cocktail.

Remodeled ballroom in the ColiseumIn the late 1930’s, the resort looked as if it would be sold to the state of Ohio for $3,000,000. The profits that were seen in the Boeckling era seemed to be gone forever. Luckily, after the 1938 season, the directors had the second floor of the Coliseum modernized in the art deco style. The old exposed wooden beams were covered in plaster and new colored light fixtures were added. New tables and chairs filled one side of this massive room and the other with a new colorful stage. In the middle, the giant dance floor remained. Booking some of the top bands of the time to play in this new ballroom kept Cedar Point operating through the rest of the difficult Depression. The NBC radio network broadcast many of these performances nationally.

The next year, the six year old High Frolics was removed, leaving the park with the Cyclone as the only roller coaster. World War II broke out in 1942, which gave the public only a short moment of freedom from the Great Depression. Many restrictions arose from the war, including the restrictions of automobile use and certain foods. The depleted park managed to survive these troublesome years, but not without difficulty. The park showed its troubles with the poorly maintained buildings and boardwalks. The grand Hotel Breakers was also showing its age and was in great need of repair.

Midway Carousel todayIn 1946, the oldest existing ride opened on the Cedar Point midway. The Midway Carousel, purchased from Revere Beach in Massachusetts, was originally carved by Daniel Muller in 1912. The carousel contains sixty horses and four chariots, all of which were hand carved. Inside this beautiful carousel is a Wurlitzer #153 band organ, which plays classic tunes. Also that season, the Moon Rocket opened near the Cyclone roller coaster. This spinning ride only lasted a few seasons on the midway due to poor business.

Toward the end of the 1940’s, Cedar Point’s future as a resort looked discouraging. In 1949, the G. A. Boeckling Company neared bankruptcy and Ed Smith, who had run the park since George Boeckling’s death, retired as president of the company.

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1870 – 1904  |  1905 – 1949  | 1950 – 1969  |  1970 – 1994  |  1995 – Present