Remembering Silver Beach
Take a Stroll on the Boardwalk...

It's hard to believe over thirty-five years have passed since Silver Beach Amusement Park closed its doors and met the fate of so many other small, family owned amusement parks.  Ideally located on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, and below the bluffs of the City of St. Joseph, Silver Beach enjoyed a long history, waxing and waning with the times, before being felled in 1971 by aging buildings and gang violence.  My Silver Beach memories are throughout the 60s, when I was a young girl and my family would visit...

We lived north of St. Joe, and a summer trip in that direction was met with high expectations from us kids.  Looking west as we crossed the bridge over the St. Joseph River, the top of the Ferris Wheel could be seen above the trees, and we dearly hoped our dad would make a right turn towards the park, but alas -- he usually drove straight ahead and ended up at Woolworth's, Goldblatt’s, or maybe Shopper’s Fair.  Bummer.

Strolling Silver Beach Amusement Park
The Comet

Once a year we knew a visit to Silver Beach was a sure thing - when mom would exhibit her oil paintings in the art show held at Lake Bluff Park, on the edge of the bluffs of St. Joe.  My sisters and I would play on the steps leading down the bluff, looking past the road below that led to the park, hoping to see the top of the roller coaster or hear the rumble of the tracks and screams from the coaster riders.  We not-so-patiently waited until the end of the show and all our packing up, hopped in the back of the station wagon and sure enough…dad would turn onto the road to Silver Beach!  Down that road, past the side of the sprawling wooden coaster, the crunch of sand under our tires, and we were there!

Silver Beach had one long boardwalk, or midway, that was the main hub of the park.  It ran parallel to the beach, and ended at the St. Joseph River channel.  The Comet, a wooden coaster where my sister “swears” she left her stomach on the highest peak, greeted many a visitor on our right.  To our left across the walk was the Rollo-Plane - a bullet-shaped "loop the loop" ride.  It was a "don’t-eat-anything-chunky-first" kind of ride…and we avoided it.

Anticipation mounted as we walked under the striped facade of the long, flat-roofed midway – the heart and soul of the park.  The roof was attached to several large old buildings that housed many of the main attractions.  Concession barkers hawked their game booths under the glow of neon lights as carelessly discarded food wrappers fluttered along the walk.  There was a slight air of seediness and mystery throughout...just enough to keep a kid interested.