Kansas City's Fairmount Park

by John M. Olinskey and Leigh Ann Little

Chapter 12:  1905
New Fairmount Park 
Kansas City's Fairmount Park ~ Kansas City History, Sugar Creek History, Independence, Missouri History, and more
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The Bandstand, Fairmount Park, Kansas City, Mo.
The Bandstand, Fairmount Park

1905 was an up and very down year for Sugar Creek, while it was the beginning of thirty years of more fun for Fairmount Park.  For Sugar Creek, the year started off on a positive note.  On January 15 Judge Albert Allen married Andrew Markham to Mary Cabay.  It was the first marriage in Sugar Creek.  Later a new church was built in the area of Putnam and High Streets.  On Monday, December 18 the Examiner sent one of their elitists to Sugar Creek.  He made it official, the Bohunks were gone, the definition of a Bohunk being a skilled or unskilled foreign loser.  From 10 busy saloons and many houses of pleasure, the boom town was reduced to two or three not so busy watering holes.  Half of the wooden commercial buildings on Fairmount Avenue were already deserted, while the refinery continued to expand.

There was also talk of building a cement plant downstream from the refinery.  Cements plants needed power, petroleum and rock, which was of unusual quality and quantity.

On Thursday, May 18, construction of another oil refinery for the area was announced in the newspaper.  $1,000 an acre was reportedly paid for 90 acres.  The venture capitalists were The Producers Refining and Fuel Company, an independent and enemy of Standard.  Located east of the Blue River to Rock Creek, north of Mt. Washington cemetery to the river.  Intended to compete with Standard oil of Sugar Creek.  Will they never learn.

Meanwhile, Fairmount Park was having a second Grand Opening.  Thousands spent opening day on Sunday, May 28, at the new Fairmount Park.  Fifty new boats, 1000 brand new bathing suits and many new attractions greeted the city folks, like a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round.  Admission was free and for a nickel you could ride to the park from anywhere in the city, thirty three more cars were added as the day progressed.  The lake hadn't been fished in three summers and was pristine, the lawns were immaculate.  Cusenbary Springs free water was now operated by an electric pump.  

The main feature was a one-legged man who coasts down a 100 foot incline in an automobile twice a day.  Zimmerschields Band of 25 played two concerts a day at 3 and 8 p.m.  Vaudeville was back featuring a comedy act called The German Fifth by Rapier and Knopp.  Singers, hoofers, magicians, pugilists and devices called the Funagraph and Terriscope.

On June 8 the Fairmount Lake claimed its first victim.  An 18-year old Independence youth named Lloyd Highman drowned within the ropes in 10 feet of water.

The Fourth of July was especially popular as park records were broken.  The Standard Oil refinery had a huge impact on the tax base of the county, increasing it by $1,172,065.56.  Standard paid $1,200 in taxes for 1904 but this year would pay several times as much.  Is it any wonder that there is a Dairy Queen where there was supposed to be a competitor to The Octopus?


Copyright 2006 John M. Olinskey


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