Remembering Lake Lansing Amusement Park: A Happier Time
Lake Lansing Amusement Park meant so much to so many people, endlessly enjoyed by those who remember this place. It was a place to have fun without the tedious drive to Cedar Point. My dad used to take me over to Lake Lansing Park and I was always in awe of the roller coaster.
Lake Lansing was originally called Pine Lake and thanks to the large number of fish and wild game, was an Indian hunting and fishing ground for centuries. Burial mounds were found around the lake with remains that pre-date the Chippewas and Chief Okemos.
The Pine Lake House hotel was built on the north shore in the 1870s. The lake grounds included a bath house, boat houses, dance hall, and ice house. A small steamer was launched in 1876, which carried 150 people for rides as well as transporting to and from hotels.
The railroad came through Haslett in 1879/80, which helped to make the lake an even more popular recreation site.
According to the Ingham County Parks site,
In the 1880’s the Spiritualists created a park on the west side of the lake as a summer encampment. The park was named Haslett Park for Mr. James Haslett, who spearheaded the project. The camp attracted thousands of people during the month of August from about 1882 until it gradually declined in the early 1900’s. It covered 20 acres. The auditorium, dedicated in 1888, could seat 2000, (and was still in use housing the “Dodgem” in 1958). There was a dormitory/hotel, dining hall, Séance Hall, barn for horses, and boating facilities. Tents could be rented, or people brought their own. Just outside the camp was the Medium House, with 16 rooms. Only mediums were allowed to enter this building.
In the 1890s, a group of local businessmen built a pavilion in the middle of the lake, using it as their private club. Named the “Izzer Club” it was a two-story structure resting on pilings. It had a trap door which became a favorite device for pranks and practical jokes. Legend says that the trapdoor was also used to dispose of unfortunate murder victims as well as hiding illegal booze during prohibition.
By 1929, the lake became less fashionable, the Spiritualist camp was sold to the Haslett Park Association, and the area was turned into an amusement park.
The Pine Lake House burned down in 1929, replaced by the Dells Ballroom where many popular bands of the day performed.
Gangsters? It's been uttered that 1920s mobster Mickey Cohen used to visit the lake.
The Lake Lansing Amusement Park that so many locals remember existed for forty great years, from 1934-1974. Among the amusements were a roller coaster, Merry-Go-Round, pony rides, mini-railroad, concession stands, Tilt-A-Whirl, Dodgem Cars, and more.
In 1974, Ingham County bought the South Park area after the amusement park closed for good. The Dells Ballroom existed until 1986.
Today, Lake Lansing Park has approximately 450,000 visits a year.
In the photo gallery below, you'll see pictures from over 100 years ago up thru the 1960s. The area had been used for recreation and vacationing ever since the late 1800s and even though the amusements are gone, the park is still enjoyed to this day.