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Lakewood Park

It is Sunday afternoon, you went to church that morning and you and your family are looking for something to do.  If it is between 1910 and 1933, your thoughts would turn to maybe taking a streetcar to Lakewood Park where you and your family could ride the boats on the lake,visit the other attractions or listen to a band in the pavilion located next to the lake.

Built in 1910 after the Southern Electric Company (one of the predecessor companies to today’s Duke Energy) to  built a dam and lake to cool electric turbines in nearby Chadwick Mill it soon became a recreational destination for those living in Charlotte and the surrounding area.  Of course due to the Jim Crow laws on the books at the time, Blacks were not permitted to visit the park and ads of the period made sure that Whites were the only ones who could visit the park:

Lakewood Park Ad for May 29 1915.  Photo courtesy of the Lakewood Park website.

Lakewood Park Ad for May 29 1915. Photo courtesy of the Lakewood Park website.

During the First World Way when Camp Greene was in full swing, soldiers were encouraged to visit the park, as the streetcar line ran right next to the camp; during this period Liberty Park was built for those soldiers but did not have all of the attractions that Lakewood had (like a lake!)

Unfortunately the park was closed in 1933 due to the Great Depression when people could no longer afford to visit.  The lake was drained in April 1936 when the dam holding the water in broke.  Another amusement park on this scale would not be seen in Charlotte until Carowinds opened up in 1973.  If you want to learn more about Lakewood Park, and of course where I got my information from, please check out:

http://www.lakewoodparkcharlotte.com/.  This site gives the history of the park with photographs and postcards of the era.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Story at http://www.cmstry.org this site, sponsored by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library is a great resource for local history with images, copies of documents and links to other history sites.

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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in History

 

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Shuffletown Dragway

If you go up Bellhaven Boulevard going towards the Coulwood Neighborhood you may notice Shuffletown Park on the right within eyesight of I-485.  If you go past the baseball fields and dog park you will notice some pavement that may resemble a street.  This is the remains of the old Shuffletown Dragstrip, which was closed in 1996 after residents complained about the noise from races held there.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the raceway was opened in 1958 when the area was more rural.  As progress and growth growth followed, so did those who wanted their peace and quiet and was not fond of listening to the drag races in their backyard.  While googling the dragway, I found this YouTube Video that was uploaded on September 11, 2008 by diamondpvideo (which can be found at https:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNpOG8Hl4II) – this is a good look into amature drag racing in a period before the ZMax Dragway was built near the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Today, the park takes up a lot of the old track property but there are remnants left if you look carefully:

Remains of the old pavement.  Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the old pavement. Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway.  Picture taken by author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway. Picture taken by author.

I’m so glad that the land is not being forgotten, but is being used for good.  While a part of Mecklenburg County’s rural past has been erased in the name of progress, at least you can still see some if you look carefully.

I accessed the Charlotte Observer via their website: Sportsplex Delays Might Not Affect Opening Date by Karen Sullivan, Charlotte Observer September 8, 2008 accessed March 21, 2015.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, Places

 

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