The midway is gone, and along with it the Musik Express, the Palladium and the World’s Largest Shore Dinner Hall. The Cyclone went to Prince Edward Island. The Corkscrew settled in Washington State. And the beloved Flume, the famed log roll that carried you leisurely out of the park's confines and offered stunning views of Narragansett Bay before its thrilling splash down, is now a revamped ride in the Philippines.
But even though the rides and chowders, rock concerts and carnie games are a distant memory, a group of Rhode Islanders wants to save the spot and make it a place once again where all residents of the Ocean State can gather. The Rocky Point Foundation is composed of a group of citizen volunteers with a mission to “preserve and protect the natural and historic heritage and environment of the land formerly occupied by the Rocky Point Amusement Park on the west shore of Narragansett Bay.”
In the words of the foundation:
Rocky Point Amusement Park on Warwick Neck evokes warm memories for many Rhode Islanders. For 150 years, Rhode Islanders traveled by ferry, horse-drawn carriage, trolley and automobile to experience one of New England’s preeminent recreational attractions. Rocky Point is the location from which the first telephone call was made by a President of the United States, and Babe Ruth hit a home run from the Rocky Point ball field into Narragansett Bay [blogger’s note: although he only got credit for a ground-rule triple, since the bay was considered out of play].
Established last year, the foundation is working to make sure that Rocky Point remains a place of public access in the form of a park with hiking trails and picnic sites. Ever since the amusement park closed in 1995, Rocky Point and its scenic shoreline has been off-limits to visitors – except for two days, one in 1998 and another last year, when Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian opened the property for public driving and walking. Thousands of Rhode Islanders took the mayor up on his offer.
David Bettencourt’s entertaining documentary “You Must Be This Tall” captures the Rocky Point vibe nicely, and conveys the near-universal love Rhode Islanders had for the place. (Some of his most interesting stories didn’t even make the film. Bettencourt told me that on the sweltering August day in 1892 when Lizzie Borden may have murdered her father and stepmother with a hatchet, the entire Fall River Police Department was enjoying its annual outing at Rocky Point. He said that a number of Lizzie Borden historians – and you’d be surprised at how many people out there walking around among us consider themselves Lizzie Borden historians – are convinced that she knew the police were out of town that day.)
I remember loving the view from the Ferris wheel. Seeing Boston in concert. Watching out for Electric Boy in the saltwater pool. Hearing too much Donna Summer and “Fly Like an Eagle.” Getting thrown off the Dodge ‘Em cars for not dodging ‘em enough. Always tasting that distinctive Rocky Point grease from one too many clam cakes the next day.
What’s your favorite Rocky Point memory?