The Hunt for Glennwood Electric Park

by Jim Nichols

After going to a club hunt at Vega I was talking to John London and he mentioned the existence of an old amusement park called “Electric Park” located in south east Amarillo near the Llano Cemetery or Glenwood Park. He mentioned that there had been an old timer took him out to the area but the coins found didn’t match the dates the park had been operational. Well needless to say that got a neophyte hunters attention and was also some what astonished that I grew up here and never even heard of the park. So my search began…

I first located and obtained an Insurance map to Amarillo that dated back to 1913 off the internet when on a forum I frequent mentioned the site and gave his password and id to use it. How helpful was that! What a find in itself! I was and am still fascinated by the map of the Amarillo back then. The mention of Livery’s and Brick factories and the number of Lumber yards! Almost as many Hotels back then as lumber yards. Well since the park was outside the city limits I really was surprised on page 34 of the map there was a detailed map of “GLEENNWOOD ELECTRIC PARK COMPANY” with a large figure eight Rollercoaster, a Dance Pavilion, Merry-Go-Round, Theater and a Baseball Park and Stadium. Entrance was on the south and parking was just west of the Dance Pavilion. Wow! what a good area to hunt! I was so excited. There was John’s Electric Park in detail with distances to streets marked on it.

park map

The streets were similar but somewhat different than today’s Amarillo but enough info to get me started. I used the map to get an intersection and entered it in the Alta Vista Maps 

on the Internet. It said no such intersection existed…MMM that was strange so I entered and know intersection and started looking. I think I see where it used to be! I thought it was west of the present Fairgrounds and just north of T-Anchor Blvd.
With several businesses built smack dab in the middle of it. I was a bit cocky. Here I was a novice hunter and I had found the elusive park already. I had to let John know about it. I emailed him where I thought it was and he was adamant I was too far North by maybe by many blocks. I was somewhat surprised and a little miffed at me for bragging to early. I told him I would double check and get back to him.

Well I got the 1913 map out again and decide to blow it up so I could read the text better. When I did I say mention of a Pine Street. Pine St. 80’ and pointed north. The Northern most street was Eighth Street on the detailed map. I decided to blow up the Cover page map and see what the bordering streets were. Well it was kind of strange it said the northern most street was Ninth not Eighth And when I did a search for the intersection of Ninth and Pine St. Alta Vista Maps said no such intersection…so what was it now? On the Overview map the east most street of the park was Osage. So there were three streets that bordered the field when Glennwood sit. The three were Pine, Willow and Osage. 

Now I had to find where those streets were today. I needed just a little more information so where should I look now? I got the map and it was contradicting itself. So much for the Insurance map accuracy! So in information is what I needed it was logical to think library. So I went to the Amarillo Library website and started searching and drilling around looking for mention of Glennwood Park. I know a lot of you are noticing my spelling of the park. It appears in the Map as Glennwood Electric Park. This too would play a role in the search for information regarding the park.

Amarillo Library has a great website. It has lots of historical information there for the asking fro the comfort of my chair. So I started my hunt. I found a photo archive! Wow! That should be interesting. So click I am there. Cool the pictures have a paragraph of caption and dates! That will help if there is some pictures here. So in the search block I enter GLENNWOOD ELECTRIC PARK return. NO DOCUMENTS FOUND. Dang! That would have been too easy I guess.

But I couldn’t imagine a focal point like an amusement park not having some documentation. So I entered Amusement park and got some pictures, Thompson Park of course and there was an old picture. I click on it and YES! Glenwood Electric Park 4th of July celebration! But wait it was Glenwood not Glennwood Park. Ah! that was it drop the second “n” and see what I get from the search. This time a couple pictures dated in the 1900s. Eureka! Something to compare against the information I had. So in one of the descriptions it mentioned the location in the description

Sorry, all links to have been broken and the pictures are not available.

old park pictureThat must mean today’s street reference. So back to Alta Vista Maps and enter 26th street and Osage. Up comes the intersection and it is houses and businesses. Not too surprised but I used the HYBRID mode of map which shows the streets overlaid on a satellite view.

I started scanning the area and especially interested in Pine and Willow Streets. As I was looking I noticed south of the location as noted in the library photo was something west and south. So I zoomed in and panned west. And there it was! There in the open field was the perfect outline of a figure-eight rollercoaster. I have really found it now. Electric Park was at SE 28th and Ross Street. Ninth Street was renamed to SE 28th at some time. Here was the proof I was looking for and now a call to John to get him to confirm my research. We would meet at the convenience store at 27th and Osage to begin the confirmation. 

view from the air

John was very obliging and would listen to my story. He had been down many paths on his searches so off we went to 28th street and Pine. As I turned on 28th my heart started to sink. Nice new GLENWOOD Apartments were all over the place. As we turned into the 

field at 28th and Pine, I got my maps, photos and aerial pictures and told John the Roller Coaster was right under the Southwestern most Apartment building! Dang! But I knew we where in the right spot, I knew it. John too agreed and pointed to where he had hunted thinking he was on the Electric Park just blocks west of where we where. After the thrill of discover came the realization the prime hunting area was under new turf, buildings or at least 14-24 inches of fill!

John and I walked the area looking for any additional signs or possible hunting locations and we spent some time looking for a buggy/car trail that leads to the Entrance. The grass and the obvious contamination due to the construction had covered the tracks, the trail wasn’t found. Well John agreed this was the sight just about five years too late! Gee thanks John! LOL But it was here. John had to leave so I decided to fire up the old Bounty Hunter and see if I could find anything that would confirm and cement the find. I hunted down what I thought was an older pair of ruts than the ones we walked looking for the “Buggy turn” into the entrance.
I found lots of junk, but after about forty minutes I got a good coin signal and started to probe and up popped a small bent disk with embossed writing on it. It looked old and after some cleaning I could clearly read “3 MerryWidows” with the names at the bottom? What in the world is this? So in my finds bag it went and I hunted the ruts about thirty minutes more and went home, disappointed but also rewarded in the fact I had found Glennwood Electric Park after so many had looked and not confirmed the site.

As far as the “3 MerryWidows” cover I went to the internet and entered the phrase 3 MerryWidows as it was written on the object, no hits! MMM The Internet hadn’t let me down yet. So think… Remember the Glennwood lesson… So I typed in three merry widows and up popped several links, one of them a Metal Detecting Finds link so CLICK and I was surprised. As you may know now since I brought it to one of our meetings it is a reusable condom manufacturer dating from the late 1880 until the early 1920s. So it was some what conclusive but not entirely. After some more research I found out the older ones didn’t have the price embossed on the top but later ones did. The 1920s item retailed for a whopping $1.50. Some of the other ones found had .50 on them but the older ones didn’t have any price. At that point I knew I had the area. Made total since, a dance pavilion and an amusement park would be a likely place to lose such a tactical necessity.

So as my addiction to this hobby grows my addiction to the Internet, which has pleasant hobby and avocation for literally decades, will only be a adjunct to my Metal Detecting and historical detecting. As I have told John before; the internet should be your first hunting grounds and it can lead to fun and maybe even a fertile hunting ground for your detecting. The finds are there if you dig in the dirt or the internet.

Jim Nichols