1908 Season

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1908 Season
Manager(s) Joseph W. Dusenbury, president
Will J. Dusenbury, secretary
The Olentangy Park Company
Opening Day April 26, 1908
Closing Day September 7, 1908 (theater)
September 27, 1908 (daily)
October 25, 1908 (Special Sundays)
New Attractions Loop-the-Loop
Infant Incubator
Motion Picture Exhibit (Rebuilt)
Battle Scenes of the Republic
Snake Den
Stock Company Vaughan Glaser Stock Company
Band(s) Neddermeyer's Band
Ellery Band

The Olentangy Park and Zoo opened for the 1908 season on Sunday, April 26, 1908,[1] despite rainstorms that occurred throughout the day. The nearly 35,000 attendees that day was the highest the park had seen.[2] During the opening, Neddermeyer's Band and starting the second week, the Ellery Band, both performed free concerts twice daily.[1][3][4] The park closed for the season on Sunday, September 27, 1908.[5][6] The park opened for a "Special Sunday" on October 4[7], October 11, October 18, and October 25. The Dancing Pavilion was enclosed to allow operation in colder weather.[8][9][10]

Notable Events

In October, manager J. W. Dusenbury became a member of the American Association of Park Managers, a $32 million (over $1 billion in 2024) syndicate controlling 22 of the largest amusement parks and circuses. Parks included Olentangy Park (Columbus), Luna Park (Cleveland), and Dreamland at Coney Island (New York). Circuses included the Ringling's Circus. The principals in the association were M. G. Helm, Kansas City; P. G. Howse, Chicago; Arthur Draper, Cincinnati; J. W. Dusenbury, Columbus; Felix Morris, Pittsburgh; Max Roosen, Baltimore; Al Ringling, Ringling Brothers' Circus; Gus Sohn, Pittsburgh; and others. The elected officers were M. G. Helm, president; P. G. Howse, vice president; Elwood M. Salsbury, secretary; and Arthur Draper, treasurer.[11]

The Columbus City Council again looked at annexing Milo, Grogan, Indianola, Summit, and other territories, including the park grounds.[12] Testimonies were given in December. C. E. Miles, manager of Indianola Park, Olentangy Park's competitor, said the annexation project blocked plans for a $32,000 theater (over $1 million in 2024) and pointed out how Olentangy Park was left out of corporate limits.[13]

Rides and Attractions

New Rides and Attractions

The new attractions for 1908 included the Loop-the-Loop, Infant Incubator, the Scenic Temple showing the Battle Scenes of the Republic, and the Snake Den. The Motion Picture Exhibit was rebuilt after the previous year's fire.[14]The Infant Incubator and Motion Picture Exhibit opened May 2.[15]

New Loop-the-Loop

Main Article: Loop-the-Loop

Built near the Circle Swing and the Dancing Pavilion, the Loop-the-Loop was a looping steel[16] roller coaster.[17] Designed by inventor Lina Beecher[16][18], up to four riders would ride on a single track down a slope fast enough to do a single inversion (upside-down loop).[16] It was one of the first operating looping coasters in North America, and its teardrop shape was adapted from a shape pioneered by Edwin Prescott.[18] The shape helped lower the excessive g-forces it put on its riders in comparison to past versions like the Flip Flap Railway, but the ride still caused many neck injuries.[19] Luther Liggett, son of Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Liggett, rode the ride in July, and his swollen neck was reported on in a few newspapers around the state.[17]

The Famous Bickett Family gave open-air performances within the circle of the Loop-the-Loop the week of July 6, 1908.[20]

New House of Hindoo Mystery

Main Article: House of Hindoo Mystery

The Columbus Evening Dispatch reported that a "genuine Hindoo, 'T'Ishi, the wizard of India," performed at the "new Fantasma." The performance included "Hindoo occultism and necromancy," power of suggestion on audience members, magic acts, and an escape act where he'd escape from a large black bag and ropes. It took place in the original Fantasma building, which was renamed the "House of Hindoo Mystery."[21]

New Infant Incubator

Main Article: Infant Incubator

The new technology to help protect premature babies was built into the Colonnade as the Infant Incubator. At least one premature baby was given artificial food and air and became well. The baby replaced a ragdoll stage prop in the play, "The Heir to the Hoorah," performed the week of July 13.[22]

Gypsy Camp

Main Article: Gypsy Camp

Queen Stella Stevens performed as a genuine gypsy fortune teller. A classified ad said she spoke 14 languages.[23] Donna Stevens was crowned the new queen on August 15.[24]

List of Rides and Attractions

Theater, Vaudeville, and Stunt Performances

Olentangy Park Theater

Main Article: Olentangy Park Casino and Theater

Extra dressing rooms and reception rooms were added for the season and a complete electric heating system was installed to make the theater comfortable any time of the year.[25]

Opening Weeks

Bernard Begue and his wife, two noted operatic soloists from the Metropolitan Opera Company, from New York, joined the Ellery Band during the opening weeks. They were followed by Mrs. Fiske and the Manhatten Company, performing "Romersholm" on Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23.[25]

Vaudeville

Vaudeville performed for eight days starting Sunday, June 14.[26]

Week of June 14

Performers:[27]

  • Robert and Louise Rogers, in their playlet, "Out of Sight"
  • Grothus and Frizell - canceled after first performance
  • Soto Sunetaro and Co., Japanese performers
  • Herbert and Willing, Blackface comedians and dancers, in a sketch, "Oh, Ma-a-n"
  • Ansel and Dorian, hand-balancing
  • Emory White, tenor; Nicholas Zan, baritone; Elaine Von Thiele - three Gypsy fortune tellers, singing in light opera, "Memory," "Torcador," (a song from Carmen), and "Lucia"
  • Troup of "Lilliputians" (little people), entertainers, included a boxing match
  • The Jessie Kellar Troupe, bicyclists
  • Little Eva Prout, singing new songs, including "Bon Bon Buddy" in boy's clothes, "Late Hours," and "Be Sweet to Me, Kid" (later in the week)[28]

Week of June 22

Joe Weber and his original New York company of 75 artists performed "The Burlesque of the Merry Widow." Prices ranged from 25 cents ($8.34 in 2023) to $1.50 ($50).[26][29] The show featured Joe Weber, Lois Ewell, Lillian Russell, Dave Warfield, Sam Bernard, Fay Templeton, Louis Mann, Charles Bigelow, Albert Hart, Douglas Stevenson, Ada Henry, and others.[30] George V. Hobert was responsible for the burlesque.[31][32][26]

It was originally by Henry W. Savage. Savage sued Joe Weber and Company for performing the opera outside of where the original opera had been played. The court said Savage was from New Jersey and did not have the jurisdiction to sue a New York City company in New Jersey. Savage planned to go to the state courts over the matter, while Weber said his ability to put the show on and pay Savage royalties while in Chicago proved the opera could be performed outside of New York City.[33][34] For the third attempt to stop the show, the courts sided with Weber, allowing the company to complete their engagement.[35] Savage sued for the fourth time for $10,000 in damages ($333,750 in 2023).[36]

Vaughan Glaser Stock Company

The Vaughan Glaser Stock Company returned for another season of 12 weeks starting on June 29.[37][1][38]

Members:[39]

  • William Deming
  • Frank Camp
  • Kate Blancke - left on July 20 for a two-month visit with her sister in Massachusetts[40]
  • Helen Wilton
  • Fay Courtney - injured July 16 from falling down stairs, suffering a black eye and facial cuts, but returned by the following night[41]
  • Belle D'Arcy
  • Fred Kerby
  • James A. Hester
  • Harrison Stedman
  • Wiliam Ross
  • Wayne Campbell
  • Frank Carton
  • Theo. Johnson

Shows

Week of June 29: Vaughan Glaser and his stock company opened Monday, June 29, with Henry Dixey's comedy, "The Man on the Box."[42]

Week of July 6: "Before and After" by Leo Ditrichstein.[43][44] The theater sold out Thursday, July 9.[45]

Week of July 13: "The Heir to the Hoorah" by Paul Armstrong.[46][47]

Week of July 20: "Graustark"[48]

Week of July 27: "The Girl of the Golden West" by David Belasco.[49][50]

Week of August 3: "Old Heidelberg" by Richard Mansfield. A souvenir photo of James Hester was given to the purchasers of the downstairs tickets on opening day.[51]

Week of August 10: "A Bachelor's Romance." A souvenir of Will Deming was given to the purchasers of the downstairs tickets on opening day.[52]

Week of August 17: "In The Bishop's Carriage" by Mariam Michelson. A companion play to Leah Kleschna.[53]

Week of August 24: "The Three of Us." A souvenir photo of Vaughan Glaser was given to the purchasers of the downstairs tickets on opening day.[54] Stock members Fay Courtney, Vaughan Glaser, and Milton Hoffman fell into the Olentangy River while boating in a canoe that week.[55]

Week of August 31 (Closing Week): "Prince Karl" by Richard Mansfield.[56][57]

Music

During the opening, Neddermeyer's Band and starting the second week when the theater opened, the Ellery Band, both performed free concerts twice daily.[1][4] The Columbus Evening Dispatch described the director of the Ellery Band, Taddeo Di Girolamo, as having "artistic perceptions and with volcanic enthusiasm.[15] The Ellery Band performed until June 12.[58] Afterward, W. S. Powell's Big Union Band provided open-air concerts, and two big orchestras played at the Dancing Pavilion and Theater.[26]

Stunts and Outdoor Shows

Week of May 5, 1908 - James E. Hardy, the King of the Highwire, known as the "Hero of Niagara," performed free shows twice daily.[3]

Week of July 6, 1908 - The Famous Bickett Family gave open-air performances within the circle of the Loop-the-Loop each afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.[59]

July 25, 1908, and Week of July 27, 1908 - Huber's Trained Bears and Kangaroos performed instead of the stock company.[49]

Week of August 31, 1908 - The Meier Family performed aquatic exhibitions, including high dives by Minnie, 9, and Elma, 11, assisted by Baby Neptune, 5.[60][57]

Activities

List of Activities

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Olentangy Park: Opening of Season." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 12 April 1908. Pg. 5.
  2. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 April 1908. Pg. 11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 19 April 1908. Pg. 5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Olentangy Opening." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 22 April 1908. Pg. 16.
  5. "Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 20 September 1908. Pg. 4.
  6. "Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 26 September 1908. Pg. 10.
  7. "Olentangy Park and Zoo." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 3 October 1908. Pg. 10.
  8. "Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 11 October 1908. Pg. 4.
  9. "Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 16 October 1908. Pg. 20.
  10. "Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 October 1908. Pg. 10.
  11. "Gigantic Merger of Amusements Worth $32,000,000." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 6 October 1908. Pg. 11.
  12. "Annexation to Have Hearing." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 3 April 1908. Pg. 8.
  13. "Take Testimony of Annexation." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 18 December 1908. Pg. 3.
  14. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 12 April 1908. Pg. 5.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Olentangy Park Concerts." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 2 May 1908. Pg. 10.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Loop the Loop." Roller Coaster Database. https://rcdb.com/3159.htm Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Neck was Injured." The Union County Journal (Marysville, OH). 23 July 1908. Pg. 2. Retrieved from Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/clip/80090314/neck-was-injured-on-loop-the-loop-in/
  18. 18.0 18.1 Francis, David W., and Diane DeMali Francis. “The Roller Coaster's Early Years 1884-1909.” In The Golden Age of Roller Coasters: In Vintage Postcards, 27. Arcadia, 2003.
  19. Francis, David W.; Francis, Diane DeMali (2003). The Golden Age of Roller Coasters. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738523380.
  20. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 7 July 1908. Pg. 14.
  21. "Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 19 June 1908. Pg. 18.
  22. "The Incubator 'Heir'." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 12 July 1908. Pg. 29.
  23. Classified ad. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 23 June 1908. Pg. 8.
  24. Classified ad. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 12 July 1908. Pg. 16.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Olentangy Park." The Democrat-Sentinel (Logan, Ohio). 14 May 1908. Pg. 7. Accessed through Newspapers.com. Link
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 "Doings At Olentangy Park." Marysville Journal-Tribute (Marysville, Ohio). 17 June 1908. Pg. 2. Accessed through Newspapers.com. Link
  27. "Olentangy Stock Company." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 15 June 1908. Pg. 12.
  28. "Notes." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 16 June 1908. Pg. 16.
  29. Ad. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 19 June 1908. Pg. 18.
  30. "Coming Next Week." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 20 June 1908. Pg. 10.
  31. "Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 21 June 1908. Pg. 5.
  32. Smythe, Penelope. "Olentangy Park: 'Merry Widow' Burlesque." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 23 June 1908. Pg. 14.
  33. "Sues to Enjoin the 'Merry Widow.'" The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 23 June 1908. Pg. 3.
  34. "Merry Widow Case Again in Courts." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 June 1908. Pg. 13.
  35. "Joe Weber Not Enjoined." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 25 June 1908. Pg. 13.
  36. "Savage Attaches Effects of Merry Widow Company." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 28 June 1908. Pg. 1.
  37. "Vaughan Glaser Will Come Back." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 10 January 1908. Pg. 8.
  38. "Olentangy Stock Company." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 10 June 1908. Pg. 14.
  39. "Stage Favorites at Olentangy." Marysville Journal-Tribune (Marysville, Ohio). 9 July 1908. Pg. 2. Accessed through Newspapers.com. Link
  40. "Miss Blanke to Leave." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 14 July 1908. Pg. 12.
  41. "Popular Actress Fay Courtney is Hurt by a Plunge Down a Stairway in the Darkness." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 17 July 1908. Pg. 1.
  42. "Olentangy Park: Summer Stock." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 28 June 1908. Pg. 5.
  43. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 3 July 1908. Pg. 12.
  44. "Olentangy Park: Before and After." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 7 July 1908. Pg. 14.
  45. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 10 July 1908. Pg. 16.
  46. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 9 July 1908. Pg. 14.
  47. "The Heir to the Hoorah." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 14 July 1908. Pg. 12.
  48. Ad. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 25 July 1908. Pg. 10.
  49. 49.0 49.1 "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 25 July 1908. Pg. 10.
  50. "The Girl of the Golden West." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 28 July 1908. Pg. 12.
  51. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 2 August 1908. Pg. 27.
  52. "Olentangy Park: A Bachelor's Romance." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 9 August 1908. Pg. 27.
  53. "In The Bishop's Carriage." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 18 August 1908. Pg. 12.
  54. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 August 1908. Pg. 10.
  55. "'The Three of Us' Get Good Ducking in the Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 25 August 1908. Pg. 2.
  56. "Olentangy Park: Prince Karl." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 28 August 1908. Pg. 16.
  57. 57.0 57.1 "Olentangy Park." The Democrat-Sentinel (Logan, Ohio). 27 August 1908. Pg. 5. Accessed through Newspapers.com. Link
  58. "Olentangy." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 12 June 1908. Pg. 18.
  59. The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 7 July 1908. Pg. 14.
  60. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Evening Dispatch. 31 August 1908. Pg. 10.