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Don Hanson's Amusement Park
aka Hanson's Amusement Park
aka Harvey's Lake Picnic Grounds
aka Lehigh Valley Railroad Picnic Grounds

Harvey's Lake, Luzerne County, PA

By Gary Looker

Date Opened: 1891
Date Closed: 1984
Location: 15 Lakeside Drive, Harvey's Lake, PA
Remains: * (see bottom of page)
Trolley Park: Yes, Lehigh Valley Railroad

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History

The Park was situated on Harveyís Lake the largest natural lake in Eastern Pennsylvania on what was once the Lehigh Valley Railroad Picnic Grounds. Some of the early attractions at the picnic grounds included a dance hall, carousel, arcade, bowling alley, a small roller coaster, miniature railroad, swimming beach, and a Shoot-the-Chute.

In the 1920ís other attractions added to the park included a Shooting Gallery, Restaurant, Bingo, a Penny Arcade, and Dodgem. John A. Miller and Oscar E. Bittler built a sixty-five foot high roller coaster called the "Speed Hound" in the early 1930ís. A Pretzel dark ride was added in 1934, which later became Pirateís Cove.

Don Hansonís father purchased the park in the mid 1930ís. He added a new bathhouse to the beach with a roller skating rink on its second floor. Some of the other activities around that time at the picnic grounds were boat races, diving shows, swimming races, and airplane stunt shows over the lake. Another activity added to the park around the end of the 1930ís were speedboat rides.

In the 1940ís more rides and attractions were added to the park including a Ferris Wheel, Whip, Twirler, Flying Scooter, and a new miniature railroad. Hansonís Drive In Theater was built in 1948 at the back of the park. It operated for a period of only three years.

A kiddie land was also built that opened in 1950 including boats, fire engines, pony carts, a miniature whip, and the Starlight Express a small wooden childrenís roller coaster.  

Throughout the 1960ís and early 1970ís Hansonís second floor dance hall hosted such local bands as Joe Nardone and the All Stars, and Eddie Day and TNT. Some national performers who performed at the dance hall included Chubby Checker, Bobby Goldsboro, the Supremes, and Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons. This attracted a whole new generation of visitors to Hansonís Amusement Park.

Crowds and interest in the park continued to decline through the 1970ís, and early 1980ís. In 1980 the "Speed Hound" roller coaster was structurally damaged. This impacted adversely upon the parks ability to draw a crowd. Camping was later added to attract more business to the park. Sadly the park closed after the 1984 season, and the park's contents were auctioned off at that time. The picnic grounds shortly after became home to the Bud Light Amphitheater.

Click on the photos for a larger view
Please note photos are copyrighted, do not copy without permission
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Boat House

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Boats

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Sign

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Hanson's Boat 1

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Hanson's Boat 2

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Camping Area 1

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Camping Area 2

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Hanson's truck

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Carousel 1

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Carousel 2

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Tilt-A-Whirl

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Train 1

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Train 2

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Train 3

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Scrambler

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Firetrucks

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Kiddie Whip

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Flying Scooters

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Horse and Carriage

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Kiddie Boats

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Kiddie Cars

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Kiddie Coaster

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Kiddie Tanks

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Rotoscooter
Bumper Cars

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Ferris Wheel 1

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Ferris Wheel 2

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Ferris Wheel 3

General Park Scenes 

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Park View 1

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Park View 2

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Park View 3

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Park View 4

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Truck under coaster

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Penny Arcade

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Snack Stand

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Restrooms

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Picnic Area 1

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Picnic Area 2

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Picnic Area 3

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Picnic Area 4

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Parking Area

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Stage

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Ticket Booth

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Midway

The Roller Coaster

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Roller Coaster 1

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Roller Coaster 2

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Roller Coaster 3

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Roller Coaster 4

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Roller Coaster 5

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Roller Coaster 6

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Roller Coaster 7

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Roller Coaster 8

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Roller Coaster 9

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Roller Coaster 10

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Roller Coaster 11

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Roller Coaster 12

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Roller Coaster 13

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Roller Coaster 14

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Roller Coaster 15

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Roller Coaster 16

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Roller Coaster 17

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Roller Coaster 18

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Roller Coaster 19

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Roller Coaster 20

The Pretzel dark ride

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Dark Ride Outside

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Dark Ride Inside

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Dark Ride Mural

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Dark Ride Wall

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Dark Ride Stunt 1

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Dark Ride Stunt 2

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Dark Ride Stunt 3

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Dark Ride Stunt 4

Postcards

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Flying Scooters

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Roller Coaster

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Ferris Wheel

My memories of Hanson’s Amusement Park

As a kid I would get to go to Hanson's, and Sandy Beach in July on a picnic for my birthday. I recall spending time in the penny arcade. It was located in the corner of the park by the Ferris Wheel in the early 1960's. It contained arcade card, claw, and crank movie machines along with other games of skill.

The view of the lake from the lift hill of the roller coaster was great! It was an out and back coaster that ran from one side of the park to the other. The other end of the coaster had a sharp turn around in the trees, and the return ride had some small hills good for some air time with slight tilts in the track. This made the return trip more fun. The ride ended with a sharp turn to the right on the break run returning to the station. In later years it was sad to see this ride sit idle and in need of repair when I took my own kids to the park.

I also use to enjoy the pontoon boat rides on the lake on a sunny summer's day. It offered a great view of the park from the lake. It was a tame ride, but if you did not have a boat it was a good way to see the lake. 

Article Resource Credits

F. Charles Petrillo for a better understanding of the early history of Hanson’s Amusement Park as provided through his book about Harvey’s Lake (a book I wish was still in print)!

B. Derek Shaw for permission to use information contained in his article about this park published in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Newspaper in 1982

Wyoming Valley Historical Society as a reference source for the some of the information contained in this article

Other People Who Made These Pages Possible

Donald, and Lillie Looker for earlier photos of Hanson’s Amusement Park contained in these pages

Joel Styer for hosting these pages, photos, and memories

Special thanks go to Don Hanson, his wife Shirley, and others for a source of family entertainment and fun for so many years. Many of the black and white pictures contained in these pages were taken after the contents of the park were auctioned off, and being dismantled for removal in 1984. Little did Don realize at that time when he gave me permission to take these pictures that they would be shared with so many others on the Internet to preserve memories of a great little family park now gone.

If you wish to share any additional information, photos, and memories about this and other parks in Northeastern Pennsylvania please send email to Info@defunctparks.com

Additional notes by Joel Styer

The coaster was a John Miller "Deep Dips" style

* Remains. It is currently unclear what is left of the park. I have been told that the Roller Coaster has been demolished but this has not been confirmed. It is likely a few buildings still stand but that is about all. A sad ending to what was once a great park.

Defunct Amusement Parks wishes to thank Gary Looker for sharing his extensive photos, research and memories.
Thanks also go to
Gail Looker and Donald Looker for use of their photos.
Thanks also go to
Cliff Herring for permission to use his postcards.
Article © 2000 by Gary Looker. Used with permission.
All photos are © Gary Looker unless otherwise noted on the photo.
Specific permission is required to use any photo from Defunct Amusement Parks
 Please ask for permission before using.
Defunct Amusement Parks © 2001 Joel W Styer. All rights reserved. Updated Saturday, February 24, 2001