I spent the weekend exploring. I’ve been working on a book (my publisher would want me to insert here that it’s called “Secret Charlotte” and it’ll be out in Spring 2017), and it’s taken me to the most unexpected places.
The book features 95 different “secret” things about Charlotte from alleged ghosts to unusual foods. And while they’ve all been fun to research, I’ve definitely had my favorites. One of those is Lakewood Park.
This was an amusement park similar to something like a Coney Island that was on Charlotte’s west side from 1910 to 1930. It had a lake with row boats, a pool, a zoo, a roller coaster, a carousel, and, most famously, a pavilion known for its dances. During WWI there was a large Army camp in Charlotte and Lakewood was a favorite spot for soldiers.Then, the Depression hit and the park’s popularity quickly faded. Shortly after that, a storm caused the lake’s dam to break and lake disappeared.
Yesterday, I drove to the area where there hasn’t been a park in almost a century. The streets are still named things like Parkview and Lakewood, but where there was once a lake is now a power station. And where there was once a bandstand and a carousel and a bathhouse, now there are warehouses. But the old trolley tracks that brought families from uptown Charlotte to the park are still there. They’re long since grown over and seem to lead to nowhere, but they’re there.
I’m dying to explore to see if there are any remnants of the past, but this didn’t feel like a particularly safe choice. (There used to be a tunnel from the lake to the amusement park that went beneath the tracks. Surely, there’s still some sign of it?) So, I went home and played on Google Earth. No luck. So, I came in to work this morning and begged my team to accompany me (as bodyguards) to the tracks. They’ve agreed.
So, stay tuned. (For either news that I’ve been murdered or photos of our finds.)