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Chester Park

Chester Park, a Cincinnati amusement complex, was a popular and handy attraction for Butler County residents for several decades. The Cincinnati park was in Winton Place on the north side of Spring Grove Avenue near Mitchell Avenue, opposite the Winton Place railroad station. Passenger trains on two Butler County railroads -- the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton (B&O) from Hamilton and the Big Four (New York Central) from Middletown -- stopped within a few yards of the park entrance. It also was accessible from Butler County by a combination of interurban lines and Cincinnati streetcars. Although briefly renamed Rainbow Park from 1929 to 1931, it was back to Chester Park by popular demand when it suddenly closed Aug. 18, 1932, because of an unpaid bill.

Chester Park -- named for a horse -- had exercised and entertained patrons in many ways during its 66-year history. This included being a destination for bicycle outings and races that originated in Hamilton after the mid 1890s. "The park, originally planned as a driving resort, was named in 1875 by its founder, Captain George N. Stone, after one of his race horses, Lady Chester," explained Cincinnati, A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration, published in 1943. "During the late 1870s and early 1880s the park was the headquarters of the Queen City Jockey Club."

In 1897, a Hamilton newspaper described "the long expected and eagerly waited for road race between Hamilton and Chester Park" as "the great cycling event of the season." A field of 76 bicyclists started that afternoon from Lindenwald as officials and judges -- plus trainers and spectators -- rode ahead on a CH&D train to the park. The bicycle route was over what is now Ohio 4, Springfield Pike, Vine Street and Spring Grove Avenue through Wyoming, Hartwell, Carthage and Elwood Place to Chester Park.

"In the early 1900s grand opera was presented at the park, with the actors staying at a tavern on Chester Avenue," the WPA guide said. During the 1920s, as an amusement park, Chester Park competed with Coney Island, located east of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. The WPA guide described Chester Park this way: "In the center was a large lake bisected by a midway, so that boating could be enjoyed on one side and swimming on the other. Circling the lake was the boardwalk with all the fun devices and eating places necessary to produce a carnival spirit." "In 1932 it was closed because of an unpaid water bill, and the many rides and concessions were dismantled," the guide said. "For a while only the swimming pool and skating rink were kept in operation; then, in 1941, these were abandoned."