Heritage \ Writings \

Wenona Beach Amusement Park (1887-1964)
Location: End of Patterson Road in Bangor Township.

Saginaw Bell Telephone picnic. - Added Nov., 2009.

Bell Telephone News, Vol. 6, August, 1916

At Saginaw
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Page 30.
On Friday afternoon, August 25th, the commercial and plant employees of Saginaw enjoyed a picnic at Wenonah Beach. Six machines carried the participants to the beach. Immediately upon arrival the entire party went in bathing. Unfortunately, the water was rather cold and Commercial Manager Evans stayed out only long enough to roughen up the bay by his violent shivering. Similarly, Commercial Agent Rideout went in to knees, but immediately retreated to the bathhouse. C. E. Stark was conceded to be the the champion swimmer of the crowd, easily defeating all comers. A picnic lunch was later enjoyed, especially by Traveling Auditor George Holland, who insisted on calling olives “Irish plums.” The party returned late in the evening, after spending a thoroughly delightful afternoon.

1942 - Good year. Added Jan., 2010.

The Billboard, September 12, 1942

Mich. Spots Run 10-30% Over '41; Cincy Ahead 11%.
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Detroit, Sept. 12. -- Business at the Central Michigan parks has been generally up this season. Bay City boasts three amusement spots despite its population of only 50,000, and business as reported there shows conflicting trends. More people remain close to home this summer and there was plenty of spending money in this community.

Long an important lumbering town, the community has today become a major shipbuilding center, with one shipyard employing 3,500 workers. A number of other major defense plants are located here and in Saginaw, 14 miles away.

Picnic trade was generally off all season, notably at Wenonah Beach, the city's leading park. General patronage at Wenonah remained good until early August, when the normal late-season slump set in. The season as a whole, however, ran about 30 per cent over 1941. The season ends tomorrow. H. M. Smart, one of Wenonah's owners, is in the hospital with a strep throat infection.

Concessions and rides did will this year, sharing in the general park prosperity until the August slump. The fun spot was closed on Mondays all season, giving employees one day a week off.

Casino Revues a Hit.

Outstanding success at the beach this year was registered by the Casino with a policy of two revue-style productions nightly, with a matinee on Sundays. Turnaways at the early show each night have been the rule. Admissions were kept low – 20 cents on weekdays, 35 cents on Saturdays and free admissions to the Sunday matinees. Rain, of which there was plenty all season, had little affect on the Casino business. Quiz Night on Wednesday and Public Auction on Thursday brought repeat business.

Roster of Wenonah Beach is: H. M. Smart and Otto Pierce, proprietors; Ora D. Colbert, general manager; M. J. Gordon, assistant.

Casino staff: Earl Bammel, manager; Harry Jarkey, emcee; Simon Martin, floor manager; Tyle Gaffild, orchestra manager; Marie Kinderman, Marjorie Balhorn, Florence Martin and Gladys Holloway, cashiers; Joe Balhorn, bartender; Leo Pepilmski and John Schere, assistants; Mrs. G. Witski, chef; Mrs Mabel Schram, assistant.

Ride staffs were as follows: Coaster: Bob Deford, manager; Mrs. L. Jean, cashier; Ormond Colbert, second man. Merry-Go-Round: Harry Averill, manager; Mike Gogeau, second man; LeRoy Fletcher, cashier. Joy Ride: Morris Murphy, manager; Kenneth Jahnke, second man; Frances Jean, cashier. Scooter: Al Straub, manager; Floyd Hinton, second man. Heyday: Harry Jean, manager; Harold Jean, second man; Elaine Abbs, cashier. Loop: Luke Finlan, manager.

Floyd R. Miller, Robert Colbert and Ben Frasick had red-hot concessions; Mrs. M. J. Gordon, shooting gallery and arcade; Mr. And Mrs Lloyd Keyes, roll-down and cigarette gallery; Harry Johnson, photo gallery and kiddie ride; Cass Woody, penny pitch; Mrs. Robert Jereu, bathhouse; Frank Swattalli, hoop-la; Barney Gregoire, Mike De Peel and Jesse Plant, groundmen; Bill Cameron, police. Ballroom: Jimmie Anderson, orchestra; Margaret Feuger, cashier; Wallace Keyes, soda fountain, and Leo Les Peak, doorman.

1947 Storm - Added May, 2010.

The Bill Board, April 5, 1947.

Big Damage From Storm Is Reported At Wenona Beach.
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DETROIT, March 29. -- Heavy damage was reported at Wenona Beach Park, Bay city, Mich., Tuesday (25) as a result of the storm which swept through the Midwest. In addition to the show and 70-mile wind that hit other amusement spots, Wenona faced the pressure of 40-feet high ice piles on Saginaw Bay, which were being blown onto the park shore line by the wind.

The fact the park has a low flat beach line without major barriers to the ice made it vulnerable to this attack.

Bath house near the shore line, was reported demolished by the ice. The Roller Coaster was damaged from ice pressing against it. Other structures also were damaged.

1949 - Report. Added May, 2010.

The Billboard, July 16, 1949
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O. D. COLBERT, Wenona Beach, Bay City, Mich.: Weak-end business off 15 per cent, ... Temperature in high 90s, ... Rain afternoon July 4, ... Two fireworks shows July 4, at 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Crowds over week-end big but no money ... Seasons business off ... Have added Ferris Wheel and dark ride this year ... Ten-cent ride special on Tuesdays getting good play, ... Start Saturday 5-cent ride matinee this week.

1950 - Richard Ritchie concessionaire. Added Jan., 2010.

The Billboard, June 24, 1950
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Page 105.
Richard Ritchie, former concessionaire at Wenonah Beach Park, Bay City, Mich., has joined the House of Stapleton as general agent. Doc Fowler, former scale man at Romona Park, Grand Rapids, Mich., has take over Ritchie's concession at Wenonah.

1951 - Good season expected. Added May, 2010.

The Billboard, May 5, 1951

Bay City Op Expects Hike In Attendance.
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BAY CITY, Mich., Aril 28. -- Greater attendance this season will lead to bigger business for Wenona Beach, in the opinion of O. D. Colbert, manager. He said he anticipated spending would be down, but that better working cnditions and fewer vacations for locals would help the spot.

Ride and games prices will remain unchanged at the spot, but food and drinks will sell for more, he reported. Colbert said the spot would pay the 20 per cent federal admission tax under protest, pending the outcome of the case now in court which may hold the tax uncollectable on ride tickets.

Wenona added a Tunnel of Love this season as its major project. A Kiddie Boat Ride also was purchased, and the Skee Ball buildng was enlarged. The picnic grounds were expanded, Colbert reported. Whether the spot will use free acts has not been determined.

H. N. Smart is president. Secretary-treasurer is O. M. Pierce, and E. J. Bammel is advertising chief.

Wenona opens May 18 for weekends and May 29 for full time. Colbert said he expected maintaining a full staff of competent labor would be the greatest difficulty this season.

1908 News. Added May, 2010.

Electric Traction Weekly, Oct. 3, 1908.
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Mr. James A. Cunningham, assistant manager of the properties of the Saginaw-Bay City Railway & Light Company, at Bay City, Mich., has been promoted to the postion of manager, in charge of the Bay City Traction & Electric Company, and the Bay City Gas Company. Assistant General Manager Morris has had added to his duties those of manager of the Wenona Beach park to succeed L. W. Richards, deceased.

Additional Notes.

  • 1891 - "The physicians of the 'Simila similibus curantur' branch of the medical profession who reside in the Saginaw Valley, met at Wenona Beach, June 9. The association numbers forty-eight members, and has for its officers Dr. J. C. Nottingham, president; Dr. Slack, of Saginaw secretary, and Dr. Harvey Gilbert, of Bay City, treasurer. The members were given a special car to the beach and were given a private room at the pavilion for their meeting. [The Medical Visitor, Vol. 7, 1891]
  • 1906 - Reference Michigan Ph. A. celebration at Bay City, July 30 to Aug. 1, 1907 - "The Michigan Pharmaceutical Travelers' Association added much to the enjoyment of the meeting, both by their presence and by chartering a car and taking all the members to the vaudeville at Wenona Beach on Tuesday evening. [Meyer Brothers Druggist, Vol. 28, 1907]
  • 1910 - The Eleventh Annual convention of the Michigan State Association of N.A.L. C. was held at Bay City. June 10. A bangquet was held at Wenona Beach, followed by entertainment at the Casino. [The Postal Record, Vols. 23-24, 1910.
  • Evander S. Van Liew, civil engineer and real-estate dealer in West Bay City, was contracted for improvements to Wenona Park. [History of Saginaw & Bay Counties, Mich., 1892]
Related Notes & Pages

Wenona Beach

Related Pages:
Wenona Beach History
Wenona Memories
{Wenona Pictorial}
People Referenced
Abbs, Elaine
Anderson, Jimmie
Averill, Harry
Balhorn, Joe
Balhorn, Marjorie
Bammel, Earl J.
Cameron, Bill
Cass, Woody
Colbert, Ora D.
Colbert, Ormond
Colbert, Robert
Cunningham, James A.
Deford, Bob
De Peel, Mike
Evans, Mr.
Feuger, Margaret
Finlan, Luke
Fletcher, LeRoy
Fowler, Doc
Frasick, Ben
Gaffild, Tyle
Gilbert, Harvey Dr.
Gogeau, Mike
Gordon, M.J.
Gregoire, Barney
Hinton, Floyd
Holland, George
Holloway, Gladys
Jahnke, Kenneth
Jarkey, Harry
Jean, Frances
Jean, Harold
Jean, Harry
Jean, L. Mrs.
Jereu, Robert Mrs.
Johnson, Harry
Keyes, Lloyd Mr., Mrs.
Keyes, Wallace
Kinderman, Marie
Les Peak, Leo
Martin, Florence
Martin, Simon
Miller, Floyd R.
Morris, Mr.
Murphy, Morris
Nottingham, J.C. Dr.
Pepilmski, Leo
Pierce, Otto M.
Plant, Jesse
Richards, L.W.
Rideout, Mr.
Ritchie, Richard
Schere, John
Schram, Mabel Mrs.
Slack, Dr.
Smart, H.M.
Stark, C.E.
Straub, Al
Swattalli, Frank
Van Liew, Evander S.
Witski, G. Mrs.
Subjects Referenced
Bangor Twp., Bay, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay City Gas Co.
Bay City Traction & Lt. Co.
Detroit, MI
Grand Rapids, MI
House of Stapleton
MI Assoc. N.A.L.C.
Pharaceutical Travelers Assoc.
Romona Park, Grand Rapids
Saginaw, MI
Sagnaw-Bay City Rwy&Lt. Co.
Saginaw Bell Telephone
Wenona Beach Park
- aka: Wenonah
- Features:
- Arcade gallery
- Ballroom
- Bathhouse
- Casino
- Coaster ride
- Ferris wheel
- Heyday ride
- Joy ride
- Kiddie ride
- Kiddie boat ride
- Loop ride
- Merry-go-round ride
- Penny pitch
- Photo gallery
- Public auction
- Roll down gallery
- Scooter ride
- Skee ball bldg.
- Shooting gallery
- Soda fountain
- Theater
- Tunnel of Love
- Orchestra
- Quiz Night
West Bay City, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.