Sunday, October 14, 2018

From the Archives: Tombstone Territory

As I started looking back at the story of the former LeSourdsville Lake/Americana Amusement Park, I came across some old photographs that were previously unpublished.

The former LeSourdsville Lake/Americana Amusement Park was the subject of the first ever story published here on QC/D. As the park's demolition continued and its end neared, I went back to revisit the place. As I started writing, I realized I had something back on an old hard drive, photographs I had never gotten around to sharing.

I dug the images up and as I started editing them, the memories started flowing back. I was never the first to visit the crumbling property and I most definitely wasn't the last. As I recounted in the previous post: I had long heard stories from friends about late night adventures to the abandoned park and an early attempt by a friend and I resulted in being scared off by security. Eventually, I had permission to explore and document the place, the experience of that tour ushering in the birth of this website.

Over the years, I've photographed tons of abandoned and forgotten locales all across the Midwestern United States. Sometimes these stories came with an invitation, often the subjects were places long forgotten by caretakers. After I had permission to tour Americana, I mostly moved on to new stories, new subjects, and new adventures. I kept tabs on the park when I could, making note of the occasional rumor or news, but I never really returned to the place or planned to.

Then I remembered these photographs. There was a time when we once stopped by quickly to take a look, to check in. I had totally forgotten about it. On that night, years ago, the regular crew of photographers I ventured around with had spent the day crawling all over Cincinnati. To cap things off, we headed North. Word on the street (and evidence on social media) seemed to indicate that any attempts to guard, look after, or maintain the old amusement park had been, like the park itself: abandoned. We walked along the neighboring railroad tracks that ran parallel to the park, "Stand By Me" style, but thankfully without any dramatic train evading moments similar to that film.

The perimeter fence was long dilapidated and wilting down to the ground when we found ourselves at the back of the park, the area of Americana once known as "Tombstone Territory." The section, themed to a town in the "American Old West," had featured one of the park's biggest attractions: a log flume known as "Logger's Run."

We set our cameras for long exposures, each one over a minute long to suck up what little light was coming from the night sky.

By this point in time, the park had really been overrun. Though not evident in these particular frames, graffiti and vandalism had ravaged across "Tombstone Territory." It was hard to see how far the park had fallen after being in relatively good shape during that first story from 2007. This trip really cemented the fact that the park was never going to be reborn.

A few years later, its fate was sealed.

Here's a few frames, quick takes from a quick visit in the years before the demolition began.

Adios, Americana.

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