Forest Park Chalfont Pa
During the early part of the last century small amusement
parks dotting the landscape of the Philadelphia suburbs.
Most of these small amusement park went along the railroad
lines coming out of Philadelphia. These now long defunct
amusement parks are nothing more than ghostly remains if
anything remains of these old parks at all.
Forest Park, also known as Funk's park, was located in
Chalfont along the Pine Run and Neshaminy creek. Forest
Park was known as a picnic area with many people taking
mini vacations in the park along the creek.
In 1885 Forest Park was started with the building of a
dining and dancing pavilion. During the next twenty years
Forest Park grew into a very competitive amusement park
turning Chalfont into a tourist attraction. The amusement
rides were steam powered and featured a carousel and a early
form of roller coaster known as a toboggan ride. The park
also had a bowling alley and dance hall.
Forest park grew in popularity with the addition of the
concrete swimming pool. Built in 1928 Forest Park's
swimming pool was one of the largest in the country at 75
Forest Park continued to thrive and made it through the
Depression while many amusement parks were abandoned. The
biggest draw for the park was the corporate picnics that
came in from Philadelphia. One of the picnics was Franklin
Sugar which had a large African American workforce. Due to
the ignorance of the local Chalfont people the pool was
closed "for repairs" so the African American employees would
not be able use it.
The 1940's were the highlight of Forest Park (maybe even
Chalfont's) fame. Stars from Hollywood and some of the big
bands performed at the park. In 1947 President Truman was at
the closing ceremony for the amusement park's season. Many
different rides were added during this time period. The
picnic grove was expanded to hold close to 10,000 people.
To give a perspective the population of Chalfont in 2000 was
about 3977. The grove in Forest Park could hold the entire
town of Chalfont three times over!
Hurricane Diane swept through the Delaware Valley in 1955
damaging the park. Local Taxes and cheaper cars cost Forest
Park many patrons. Finally, in an attempt to draw patrons
the park allowed alcohol to be permitted Forest Park lost
it's "family" appeal.
The event which many believe cost Chalfont it's beloved
amusement park was the Forest Park Race Riot in 1958. Not
many people think of a place like Chalfont when it comes to
race relations, but Memorial Day weekend at Forest Park an
all out riot occurred.
Over 20,000 people were ventured to Chalfont for the holiday
weekend. The riot began in the dining hall and spread
throughout the park. Local and State police were called in
to stop the violence. Park patrons scattered into the woods
in an attempt to escape the riot.
Forest Park closed for the entire 1958 and 1959 seasons
following the FBI investigation into the race riot. The
Chalfont economy went 2 entire summers without their famous
The park was re opened following a change in owners, but
never regained it's former glory status. A segregated
swimming area was created called "Lake Suzanne" in order to
help racial tensions in the park. Failing equipment and the
lack of local support caused the attendance in the park to
suffer. Before the 1964 season began "Lake Suzanne" was
closed for health reasons.
Forest Park closed for good following the 1964 season. Some
of the land has been developed into townhouses with streets
that have a carnival theme. Most of Forest Park has been
reclaimed by nature, only a few remnant are still visible.
The grand picnic grove that attracted thousands of people to
Chalfont now stands in ruin with concrete supports lined up
as tombstones in the graveyard of this long abandoned
the Photo Album