Mr. Fatrell estimates that the United States had more than 1,000 trolley parks in the decade before World War I, many of them in small suburban cities. In those boom years, Clementon Park added the region’s first Nickelodeon movie theater and a new bathroom. Holiday homes and restaurants sprung up all over the city.
The war on the entertainment industry was tough, but when Trolley Park closed elsewhere, it escalated. In 1919, the Gibbs family installed a Ferris wheel and a steam-powered carousel. That same year, he spent more than $ 80,000 – $ 1 million – for Jack Rabbit Coaster, the noted ride engineer John A. It was designed by Miller and made of wood by the Philadelphia Tobogan Company.
Depression and the increasing popularity of automobiles brought another wave of park closures. “You could survive if you had room to set up parking,” Mr. Furell said, “and Clementon did.”
More modern thrill rides added. At the dance hall, Red Skelton and Dick Clarke hosted the Dance-A-You-Drop Marathon. There were daily high-dive shows and circus acts on the lake. Just outside Park Gates, a downtown shopping district bustled through midcentury, and by 1960 Clementon’s population had grown to only about 4,000 residents in just two square miles.
But the subsequent boom of World War II put the small town of life in danger.
“They build huge malls and shopping centers just down the street,” Danielle Burrows said, “and in the 1960s there was a drastic shift away from city districts.” Ms. Burrows, who is 41 years old, wrote about Clementon in the 2009 “Images of America” book series. By then, the main street shops and apartments had been demolished in the 1970s in the name of “urban renewal”. “The city’s affair was at least a decade behind,” said Braves.
There are now a few stores and restaurants left, and almost nothing is manufactured in Clementon today. When the amusement park did not open at all during the 2020 season, 82-year-old Marion Mumi, who moved to Clementon in 1938, recalled that old demolition.