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Forest Park Zoo?


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#1 bgh01

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 02:53 PM

Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

 

Does anyone know if the Fort Worth Zoo was at one time known as the Forest Park Zoo? I know that part of it runs along Forest Park Blvd. The history page on the zoo's website makes no mention of other names.

 

The reason that I ask, a few years ago, my grandparents, who lived about two hours west of Fort Worth, passed away. While cleaning out their house, I stumbled upon an old souvenir shot glass from the "Forest Park Zoo". It looked like it was from the 40s or 50s. Searching on Google, the only Forest Park Zoo that I can find is located in Massachusetts, and I am certain that they never traveled to the East Coast. However, a visit to Fort Worth would have made a perfect day trip for them.

 

Any information would be much appreciated!

 



#2 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 03:58 PM

I used to call it the "Forest Park Zoo", but I don't know if that was ever an official name.  The original entrance to the park was on Park Place at Forest Park Blvd., and those gates say Forest Park.  The gates were built in 1918, but the zoo dates back earlier than that.  The road also led down to the zoo, but in a different configuration.  The actual zoo drive too off from Park Place at the westernmost point where you can see the remains of a "Y" intersection.  When I was a kid, this was the access to the zoo. 



#3 Austin55

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 04:59 PM

An interesting source, here's a bit more info from the Roller Coaster Database.

 

Forest Park was a small park located by the Fort Worth Zoo.  While the amusement park has closed, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad, which was built as part of Forest Park Rides in 1959, still operates today.

 

The zoo also had a roller coaster called "Monster Mouse"

 

 

 

The rides at Forest Park were operated by Raymond Hames, the brother of carnival operator Bill Hames.  Last known this Mad Mouse was in storage at the Hames Shows maintenance area.

Some references state this mouse is the former "La Cucaracha" from Six Flags Over Texas.  This is complicated because the Cucaracha was a Herschell Mad Mouse model while the Forest Park was a Monster Mouse model.  It may be the Mad Mouse was upgraded to a Monster Mouse as part of the move.  This was an add-on available from Herschell.  Whether this is what happened or not has yet to be proven.

 

 

There are at least two other parks in Fort Worth history to have at one point operated Roller Coasters, Lakeworth Park/ Casino Beach had the "Rocket" from 1930-1951 and was designed by famous coaster builder John Miller, and another park called Lake Como park at some point operated a ride called "Figure 8", which was a side-friction coaster and probably operated in the very early 1900's. 



#4 elpingüino

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 06:51 AM

In St. Louis, the city zoo is in Forest Park and is commonly called the Forest Park Zoo. Example: vintage postcard

 

Edit: Link fixed



#5 801hme

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:04 PM

An interesting source, here's a bit more info from the Roller Coaster Database.

 

Forest Park was a small park located by the Fort Worth Zoo.  While the amusement park has closed, the Forest Park Miniature Railroad, which was built as part of Forest Park Rides in 1959, still operates today.

 

The zoo also had a roller coaster called "Monster Mouse"

 

 

 

The rides at Forest Park were operated by Raymond Hames, the brother of carnival operator Bill Hames.  Last known this Mad Mouse was in storage at the Hames Shows maintenance area.

Some references state this mouse is the former "La Cucaracha" from Six Flags Over Texas.  This is complicated because the Cucaracha was a Herschell Mad Mouse model while the Forest Park was a Monster Mouse model.  It may be the Mad Mouse was upgraded to a Monster Mouse as part of the move.  This was an add-on available from Herschell.  Whether this is what happened or not has yet to be proven.

 

 

There are at least two other parks in Fort Worth history to have at one point operated Roller Coasters, Lakeworth Park/ Casino Beach had the "Rocket" from 1930-1951 and was designed by famous coaster builder John Miller, and another park called Lake Como park at some point operated a ride called "Figure 8", which was a side-friction coaster and probably operated in the very early 1900's. 

Don't mean to hijack the thread further from the original topic, but I believe the Lake Worth Roller Coaster was called the Thriller, Not sure where RCDB came up with Rocket, unless it had more than one name.

 

Also I believe there was a figure 8 "coaster" at White City on the northside, too. I don't think Lake Erie in Handley had one, but I might be wrong.

 

The Monster Mouse was great, I loved the rides at the Zoo when I was a kid, we went there often. We use to call them the Forest Park rides, but that's just what we called them, never knew that as an official title.



#6 RD Milhollin

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:36 PM

When I was a kid we all called it "Forest Park Zoo". I am not sure why, as if there was another zoo within bike-riding range. I suppose we must have heard it from parents and other adults.



#7 lcbrownz

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 06:55 AM

The Bill Hames rides of Forest Park were removed in 1989 when the zoo was expanded and adding the new tracks for the tarantula train. I have a newspaper article explaining the situation.posted on Facebook. Currently there are no official signs labeling "Forest Park" as such. Much of the open unoccupied land is roped off and now being neglected. The term "Forest Park Zoo" was just coined (over the years) as a nickname. For decades, I thought that was its name as well. 



#8 lcbrownz

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 08:30 AM

Back in the mid-late 1950s, the city contracted Bill Hames Rides to install rides at Marine and Sylvania parks for 2 years. Both parks had mini-roller coaster rides.



#9 Doohickie

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 11:50 AM

I used to call it the "Forest Park Zoo", but I don't know if that was ever an official name.  The original entrance to the park was on Park Place at Forest Park Blvd., and those gates say Forest Park.  The gates were built in 1918, but the zoo dates back earlier than that.  The road also led down to the zoo, but in a different configuration.  The actual zoo drive too off from Park Place at the westernmost point where you can see the remains of a "Y" intersection.  When I was a kid, this was the access to the zoo.

 
Is this the old zoo entrance?
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#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 12:17 PM

Yes, it is.  You can also see how the roads were configured differently in the 1952 photograph at www.historicaerials.com.



#11 Doohickie

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 12:22 PM

Yep, that's how I found the spot. ;)

As an aside: Historic Aerials is an excellent time waster.
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#12 austlar1

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Posted 01 September 2015 - 06:05 PM

I grew up in a house on Winton Terrace East. It was directly above the exhibits that housed elephants and giraffes. You could actually see giraffes eating leaves off of tree branches from my parents' second floor bedroom. My father, who liked to sleep with windows open, used to complain to the zoo about the smell of the elephants! We also always just called it "the zoo" or sometimes the Forest Park Zoo. There was no official entrance to the zoo as best I can recall. The main road into the park from Forest Park Blvd. was Park Place where the gates still stand. People parked in parking lots by the amusement park and walked into the zoo from there. There were three or four other roads that entered into the park. One was further south on Forest Park Blvd. Another was just off of Winton Terrace East inside of the Park Hill subdivision. It came down near the old tennis courts and just south of the 1950s era zoo. There was another entrance off of University Drive that went into the park. There used to be a WPA era staircase going up to Winton Terrace from the main part of the zoo near the lions, tigers, etc. The zoo was not fenced off for most of my childhood. The little amusement park to the east of the zoo between the zoo and the swimming pool had no roller coaster when I was a child. There was a nice enclosed Ferris Wheel and a lovely carousel. You could hear music from the carousel and noise from the animals all over my old neighborhood. We had a front row seat for Pete the Python, and the hillside above the zoo was a playground for kids in Park Hill of that era.



#13 Saginaw

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 03:52 AM

When I was a kid in the '70s, my now-sainted Mom would take me to the Fort Worth Zoo, usually on a Sunday afternoon. I can vividly recall that the both of us would use the terms "the zoo" and "Forest Park" interchangeably to refer to the same place.

 

I have lots of cherished memories from that time. Within the zoo itself, the small children's petting zoo area was still around, with their neat water fountain at the entrance that resembled a lion with its mouth wide open. The old bird house was there, too, as was the original aquarium and the herpetarium ("snake house") at the far end of the property. At the aquarium, there was a very friendly African-American woman who used to sit outside at the entrance. I don't recall if she was an employee, but I seem to remember that she was "old", say, in her 60s. There were also several wooden refreshment stands along the paved asphalt trail that resembled an upturned wedge. They were painted pink with white trim, and they sold snacks such as popcorn, sodas, sno-cones, and cotton candy.

 

Of course, my favorite area was the Midway, with the rides. I wasn't the "adventurous" sort back then, so I pretty much stuck with the carousel, Ferris wheel, and bumper cars. We always ended the day with a ride on their classic miniature train, which in the '70s was the rolling stock that resembled a 19th Century steam locomotive with open passenger cars. Hearing the train's wheels rolling over the rails was a very relaxing experience. It was an innocent and fun time.

 

 

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#14 lcbrownz

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:39 AM

 

I used to call it the "Forest Park Zoo", but I don't know if that was ever an official name.  The original entrance to the park was on Park Place at Forest Park Blvd., and those gates say Forest Park.  The gates were built in 1918, but the zoo dates back earlier than that.  The road also led down to the zoo, but in a different configuration.  The actual zoo drive too off from Park Place at the westernmost point where you can see the remains of a "Y" intersection.  When I was a kid, this was the access to the zoo.

 
Is this the old zoo entrance?

 

I have a 1945 photo of the Forest Park gate entrance. But I do not know how to post on here.






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