July 28, 2014

Washington Park in 1894

 From the book “Kansas City’s Fairmount Park” by John M. Olinskey

   The seventh season of Washington Park (now Mt. Washington Cemetery) was the first one with a lot of money spent on improvements. Until then, it was like a 400 acre zoo with a lake, but in 1894 things changed.

   The cars going to Fairmount Park drew more patrons.  The Fairmount and Washington Parks competitive wars began in earnest in ’94, fueled by money from the Holmes family, Washington Park’s new owners. A bathing beach and bath house were built at Washington Park, costing $10,000, and a restaurant was also added.  A wild beast show appeared in June.  Sir Charles Wombell of London brought his performing leopards, and Miss Mili Nana and her hypnotic lions thrilled the people as she entered the cage blindfolded.

   A parachute leap was also on the agenda, where a lady, in full evening attire, jumped 5,000 feet from a helium balloon.  Washington Park also emulated Fairmount Park in that the water from the spring in Washington Park was sold as Bethsaida Spring Water.  It was delivered in a 400 gallon horse-drawn wagon and sold door to door.  "For a free sample call 2536."

In addition, the park also featured Shetland ponies, boats, swings, a bowling alley and a shooting gallery.  It was 15 cents round trip from Kansas City to Washington Park on the Dummy Line.
To be continued…

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