Memories of Idlewild Park

Memories of Idlewild Park was the subject of the 18th Annual Historic Photography Show hosted by the Pennsylvania Room at the Ligonier Valley Library in Ligonier, Pennsylvania from April 16 through July 9, 2019. The 2019 Historic Photography Show celebrated the history of Idlewild and SoakZone, a much beloved amusement park in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Idlewild has charmed people across Western Pennsylvania and beyond since its origins as a 19th century picnic grove for the Ligonier Valley Rail Road. The Historic Photography Show showed how the Mellon family’s scenic picnic grounds evolved into a traditional amusement park in the 20th century and how Idlewild continues to delight generations as an award-winning family attraction today. Established in 1878, Idlewild and SoakZone is recognized as the oldest operating amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest in the United States.










I was honored to guest curate Memories of Idlewild Park and contributed photographs and memorabilia I discovered while researching my 2018 book Idlewild: History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest Amusement Park.

Along with the exhibits, we also hosted three events during the run of the show:

Opening Night Reception on April 16 – During the opening night reception guests enjoyed browsing photos and artifacts and were treated to traditional amusement park fare such as hot dogs, root beer and cotton candy.

Evening Presentation on May 14 – Idlewild’s Director of Marketing, Jeff Croushore, joined me for an evening talk where we shared Idlewild history, recent developments up through the 2019 season and many wonderful images of the park.

Rollo Coaster Creations Children’s Program on May 18 – Idlewild’s youngest fans were treated to a tour of the Historic Photography show and a meet and greet with Mother Goose of Story Book Forest before building their very own Rollo Coaster.






Virtual Exhibit Tour

Thank you to Tara Ewanits for video editing assistance!

Thank You!

Many thanks to the Ligonier Valley Library, Pennsylvania Room Archivist Shirley McQuillis Iscrupe, the 2019 Historic Photography Committee, Idlewild and SoakZone and the many people listed below who generously loaned photographs and items for the show. Thank you all for supporting and preserving a wonderful part of Ligonier Valley, Pennsylvania and amusement park history!

Barbara & Sam Banales                  Aimee Manning
Gregory Barnhart                            Ann Macdonald
Trudy Brisendine                            Chris Macdonald
Beth Caldwell                                 Molly Macdonald
Eleanor Clark                                  Chad McMullen
Jeff Croushore                                Cheryl & Art McMullen
Joy Fairbanks                                  Johna McNulty
Bob Frye                                         Liz & Richard Mickinac
Kathleen Giesey                              Marlene Reckling Murty
Rita Giesey                                      Haylee Oates
Frankie & Scott Graham                 Heather Oates
Susan Grill                                       Ken O’Toole
Rita Horrell                                     Theresa Schwab
Shirley & Bill Iscrupe                       Ina M. Smithley
Patricia Kenney                               Joyce Springer
Kristine Kopay                                 Aaron Steimer
Don & Shirley Kowatch                   Brandonn Terhorst
Don Lachie                                      Sylvia Toy
Joshua Litvik                                    Ralph Zitterbart


Memories of Idlewild Park received coverage from local media outlets and industry organizations, including:









About the Historic Photography Show

According to the Ligonier Valley Library, “The mission of the Historic Photography Show (as well as the smaller shows held throughout the year) is to present a facet of Ligonier Valley history that is interesting, educational and may have been overlooked in the past. In addition, the photographs and documents copied become a permanent part of the Pennsylvania Room collection.” Please visit the Ligonier Valley Library at 120 West Main Street, Ligonier, PA 15658 to view past shows and explore the Pennsylvania Room’s vast collection of books and materials. More information can be found at