Memories of Lakeside Amusement Park

Photo courtesy of Roanoke Rover


Lakeside Amusement Park operated in Salem, Virginia, from July 1920 until October 11, 1986. It was home to two roller coasters, Shooting Star and Wildcat. Financial issues from a flood and a lawsuit brought the demise of this park.

A large Kroger and adjoining stores stand on its location today.

Photo courtesy of Roanoke Rover and Connie Bowles

Growing up we always looked forward to our visits to Lakeside snuggled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My grandparents and parents enjoyed spending their youth swimming at the pool, riding the Shooting Star, listening to Conway Twitty, and picnics at the Pavilion.

Unfortunately, I never achieved the minimum height requirement to enjoy the John Allen classic wooden coaster.


Photo courtesy of Roanoke Rover and Clark Cregger

Lakeside was my first amusement park so it has a special place in my heart. I still remember the smell of the burlap sack used on the giant slide, and the Skylift that went over the road, stopping so the train could pass. I remember being enamored watching the tightrope motorcycle stunt show and getting some of my first snaps on the Flying Scooters.

I still get to enjoy a small piece of Lakeside at Busch Gardens Europe. The Busch Gardens Railway runs the old Steam Locomotive that was built in 1972 for Lakeside under the name Alpen Express.

Lakeside was an enchanting gift that was right in my backyard and a magical part of my childhood.


– Charles Mann, Lynchburg, Virginia

Photo courtesy of Charles Mann

Photo courtesy of Charles Mann