Chain of Rocks opened in 1927. Originally it was owned by Chris Hoffman. In the 1940's, it was bought by Carl Trippe of the Ideal Novelty Company. A group of investors headed by Bill Zimmerman purchased the park in 1958. Ken Thone was hired by them to manage the park and stayed with the park for 20 years. Several occurrences led to the parks' demise. Combined with a drop in school enrollment, which affected the school picnics, (a big part of Chain of Rocks business), two major fires in four years, and with the opening of Six Flags in Eureka, sealed the fate of the park on the cliff.
This incredible aerial view of Chain of Rocks shows the park in its' hey dey. The photo was a page from an amusement park trade booklet advertising several different parks and what they had to offer. The ad also had lots of fun info including phone numbers (Underhill7-5435), the exact street address (10733 Lookaway Dr.) and of course a ride list: Whip, Dodgem, Chair-O-Plane, Tubs-O-Fun, Space Ships, Haunted House, Moonrockets, Roller Rink, Comet, Penny Arcade, Shooting Gallery and Ghost Trail. The Comet formed the west border of the park. Along the edge of the bluff, 230 feet above the Mississippi, the dining hall, Whip, Moonrockets, Carousel and Dodgems formed the eastern border of the park. Chain of Rocks also had one of the most unique rides ever seen, a oblong ferris wheel named the Swooper. Situated between the Dodgem, Carousel and Moonrocket, the Swooper faced the Mississippi. The way the ride worked, riders felt as they just might end up taking a dip in the mighty river if one of the Swoopers' seats gave away. Fortunately they never did.
Swooper ride at Chain of Rocks
(above) This Swooper was the one located at Chain of Rocks Park. As the ride started, riders were moved backwards swooping up, then forward...directly towards the Mississippi 250 feet below. I remember many times of expecting to go for a dip in the big river.
Click the logo below to learn more about this unique ride.
New photo added Nov 23, 2016
The two postcards above shows the changes C.of R. went through. The linen card on the left shows the park when it was known as Chain of Rocks Amusement Park. The chrome card on the right, the parks' name was changed to Chain of Rocks Funfair. Note the Comet has been replaced by a go-cart track. New rides were brought in an attempt to modernize the park. The midway now featured a Wild Mouse and a Double Ferris Wheel. When Ken Thone took over managment, the Comet was in such deplorible condition, it had to be torn down. John Allen, a Roller Coaster designer/builder wanted to build a new coaster, but at the time, the costs were prohibitive. He later designed the Screamin' Eagle at Six Flags Mid-America, a much larger and reverse image version of C.of R.s' Comet. Chain of Rocks closed the day groundbreaking was held for the Screamin'Eagle.
A couple shows good parenting skills by exposing their little boy to amusement parks and at an early age. You can see the parks' Ideal Roller Skating Rink next to the coasters lift hill in the background. "Ideal" was a chain of skating rinks common at a lot of parks during the 40's and 50's.
These two ladies are taking a break from the rides at Chain of Rocks...or maybe enjoying some herbal refreshment in the parking lot before tackling a ride on the Comet, or Swooper. I wonder what their names are. Thelma & Louise, Roseanne & Jackie, or Ellen & Portia?
(above) The Sky Garden Restaurant was a complete table service eatery complete with a porter, waitresses, the works. Not like today, huh? The photo (above right) shows the Sky Garden Restaurant sustaining severe damage from one of the many fires that occured at Chain of Rocks during the 60's and 70's. photo on right: St. Louis Fire Dept. Archives, Thanks Dave!
aerial of Chain of Rocks as it appears today - here