The Washington, DC area was once home to two popular amusement parks. They were Marshall Hall and Glen Echo, in Maryland. Glen Echo survives today as a cultural arts park since being acquired in 1971 by the Federal government and is now managed by the National Park Service.
      The rides were sold off, but the Dentzel carousel was saved by local fundraising efforts and still operates at the park. Several of the original stone and art deco buildings have also been refurbished, recalling the period when the twin brother entrepreneurs Edwin and Edward Baltzley established the Glen Echo Chautauqua Assembly there in 1891.

     The Baltzley brothers planned to sell their real estate holdings overlooking the Potomac River to people who would be drawn to their Chautauqua development with its program of famous speakers and classes in the sciences, arts, languages and literature, conducted on a campus of stone buildings and tents amid the natural surroundings. But setbacks and a lack of patronage led to the failure of the enterprise, and the brothers struggled to generate revenue from their property.
     Then, just before the turn of the century, an amusement park was constructed on the land. Soon afterward, the Washington Railway and Electric Company purchased the park. Now officially a "Trolley Park", it was rapidly expanded with the addition of art deco-style buildings and new rides, including the Dips coaster, carousel and bumper cars. The Crystal Pool was one of the nation's largest. It included a sandy beach for sunbathing and had the capacity to accomodate 3000 swimmers.

       In 1933, the Spanish Ballroom opened with a 7,500 square foot maple floor - room for over 1,500 couples who danced to many of the popular big bands of the era.
     After over 50 years as one of the Washington area's most popular recreational spots, Glen Echo fell victim to the changing times and tastes that caused the demise of so many of America's amusement parks in the 1950s and 60s. A steady decline in attendance brought Glen Echo Park's tenure to an end with the close of the 1968 season.
     Today, the park and the remaining buildings serve as an artistic and educational resource center. Large seasonal festivals and live performances are hosted at the park, and weekly dances are held at the Spanish Ballroom.

Even though the rides are long gone, we should not forget that Glen Echo Park once possessed a superb collection of funhouse and dark ride attractions.
So, let's have a look...


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