Posts Tagged ‘Idlewild park’

Popular chicken BBQ along the Lincoln Highway

May 20, 2008

John Renock of Galion, Ohio, sent some photos about his favorite Lincoln Highway chicken barbecue stand. During the summer, it’s along the westbound lanes of US 30 west of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, very close to Idewild Park. The stand is in the lot of a closed dairy drive-in across from the Driftwood Inn (known for it’s 1950s signs).

John says it’s been a weekend adventure for a number of years to go on a Sunday drive from Ohio to travel back to his nearby hometown and to get barbecued chicken. In the photo above, that’s Mike Hocker (Executive Director of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway) in the green shorts/white shirt standing in line.

The gentleman who owned the soft ice cream stand found out he could earn as much doing chicken every Sunday Memorial Day through mid-October as working a weekly schedule selling ice cream etc. So he closed the ice cream store and uses the cooler, etc. to support the barbecue built on the western edge of the parking lot. I believe he is helped by a brother and brother-in-law. Didn’t take serious notes when I interviewed him the first time. He is sort of gruff. Stands at the end of the barbecue pit and takes your order.

As the chicken halves are pulled off the grill, they are placed in large, covered roasting pans near the serving area. They steep in the steamy juices for an hour or so before they are pulled from the roaster, dropped onto precut sheets of aluminum foil, methodically wrapped and deftly dropped into a paper sack. Pop is kept cool in ice water in a 50’s vintage pop cooler. Cole slaw is available, too.

Be ready to speak up when it is your turn as the guy has a line of people to serve and gets a little grumpy if you hem and haw. Just put us in mind of the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. They start the charcoal pit around 6 a.m. on Sunday and serve until all is sold. We estimated about 750 to 1,000 half chickens on a given day. (He wouldn’t say). Then you can find a spot on a nearby shade tree picnic table maintained on the proper tyand enjoy your prize. Melt in your mouth chicken! When we first went there in ’97 it was about $3 a half. Last time it was $4.25.

Vintage postcards from Idlewild Park, Ligonier PA

December 15, 2007

As reported here previously, Idlewild Park along the Lincoln Highway in Ligonier, Pennsylvaia, will be sold as part of Kennywood Entertainment to Parques Reunidos of Spain, the third-largest European operator of amusement parks. The company only entered the U.S. market two months ago by purchasing 33 water parks. A British private equity firm acquired the company in January 2007 for $1.22 billion—such corporate entanglements worry fans of Idlewild and the other old-fashioned parks currently owned by parent park and company Kennywood.

Here are some vintage postcards showing how Idlewild’s entrance changed over time (the first is from Cy Hosmer). The same round building can be seen in the first two views. This area still serves as an exit but the entrance was moved to the east years ago so that waiting cars would not back up onto the LH/US 30.

PA Idlewild 1 - Cy

PA Idlewild 2

PA Idlewild 3

Idlewild amusement park sold to Spanish company

December 12, 2007

Story Book ForestIdlewild & Soakzone, a family-style amusement and water park along the Lincoln Highway in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, is set to be sold to Parques Reunidos, a Spanish company that manages 61 parks in Europe and America. Starting as a picnic grove for the Ligonier Valley Railroad in 1878, rides were added in 1931, and Story Book Forest fairy tale park in 1956 (a rare survivor of that era). It also includes an official Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Of Make Believe trolley ride and a Lincoln Highway-themed photo-op created by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor (as seen below in their photo):


Idlewild has been operated since 1983 by Kennywood Entertainment, a family-owned company that also operates two vintage parks in New England and two properties not far from the Lincoln Highway near Pittsburgh: a water park and Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. Kennywood Park itself is an institution; starting as a trolley park in 1896, it was purchased in 1906 by F.W. Henninger and Andrew McSwigan, whose familes have owned and operated it since. PA Auto RideIt’s also within walking distance of where I’ve lived my entire life, so friends are quite impassioned about the surprise announcement. Both parks are full of vintage rides such as Kennywood’s Auto Ride at left.

Commentors to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are overwhelmingly concerned about the changes a large corporation might bring, and that the cherished American sites will be owned by an overseas firm. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review likewise reports that people in the Ligonier Valley have mixed emotions, hoping that promises to maintain Idlewild’s atmosphere will prevail over corporate cost-cutting. Kennywood’s current owners assure the public that the new company is committed to maintaining everything that people love about the parks.

Another Trib article says that half the new owner’s parks (in fact, the 33 US locations) were just bought in October:

Parques Reunidos has grown quickly since its acquisition in January by the London-based Candover private equity investment fund for $1.22 billion. Kennywood said the Spanish company approached its owners with an offer as part of a plan to expand its ownership of family entertainment venues worldwide.