Who Knows Where These Photos Were Taken?

who knows_pleasure island

These go back to 1959-1969.  Who remembers and what was your favorite thing to do there?  I loved the burro trail, big slide and animal land, but Moby Dick was pretty cool too.

E.J. Lefavour

36 thoughts on “Who Knows Where These Photos Were Taken?

    1. Wow, that is some great Pleasure Island insider history! It must have been something to build that whale and then see it come up out of the water and know you were part of its creation. Thanks to your Dad to all of us who enjoyed it so much.


  1. All of you who said Pleasure Island are correct. We went there often as kids because it was right down the street from my grandmother’s house in Wakefield. BTW, that is me riding the 2nd burro, and I harassed my parents from that time on to let me get a pony, which I eventually wore them down and got. Actually it was a stallion foal that was brought in from Canada that they bought for $50, and it rode home in the back seat of the station wagon on my lap.

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  2. I remember Pleasure island! We went once because we wanted to meet Popeye, who even to my young eyes was a down-on-his-luck old sot with a fake chin and padded forearms. I was very disturbed and creeped out. Loved Moby Dick though. It was a real low rent Disneyland.


  3. I remember panning for “gold”, and in my mind’s ear the voice of the boat captain (probably some college kid) warning us that Moby Dick might surface directly under the boat.


  4. I’m working for a client in the office park that’s there now, and all the conference rooms are named for Pleasure Island attractions. I didn’t understand that when I first got there and was slightly uncomfortable attending meetings in “Shooting Gallery” and “Moby Dick.” 🙂


  5. Definitely Treasure Island which is now the Edgewater Office Park in Wakefield. I work right on top of the old Jenny Car track at 701. We have old posters and pictures from the park all over our office. A couple of years ago in the summer when it was very dry, the pond levels dropped enough so you could see the remains of the skeleton of Moby Dick.


    1. Hi Lindle – That must be a fun office environment to work in. I saw a story and some photos on the internet about that dry spell and the remains that were revealed – nature revealing sunken treasure.


  6. I too used to work at Edgewater Office Park, coincidentally in the last office space Cyrk moved to when they left Gloucester. 😉 I was told that the rails and all for Moby Dick were removed, but a story persisted about a scuba diver who had a close encounter with the whale on the bottom 🙂 The visible remains when the water level drops very low include the burned out ribs of a schooner that was transported up there, rails for the “scary” rhino that used to run along the island closest to the first driveway, and sometimes the rails(again closest to the driveway) where Moby Dick was put in every season. The main access road follows part of the old narrow gauge rail line.
    For those who need a further Pleasure Island fix, here is a link to the Friends of Pleasure Island website. Brought back many memories.. On this site there is a link to Images of America book (Arcadia Publishing) that has many images of Pleasure Island and the history.



  7. I loved Pleasure Island..My favorite attraction was the crooked house where the water ran uphill. I saw Dion and the Belmonts at the arena on one visit and every summer I begged for one of those Peter Pan shaped hats with the big plume hanging off of it.


  8. EJ thanks I did a googel look and below is what popped up quite a history :-)! Take about memory lane this is where I met the Joker from batman in the 60’s what a place…Sparked my interest for sure so I did ye old google as many things have changed and I heard it was closed later – a little look on line sharing this as “For Your information.”

    Pleasure Island Website developed by Kory Hellmer.

    A History of Pleasure Island An eighty-acre multi-million dollar theme park, Pleasure Island operated in Wakefield between the years 1959 and 1969. At its inception, it was the largest man-made tourist attraction in New England, expected to host over 1,200,00 visitors each summer season. The family-entertainment center was the third of the nation’s big family park developments (Disneyland and Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica, were the first). More than 5,000 people attended its opening day in 1959.

    The entrance to the park (named Pleasure Island Road) travelled one mile through the Reedy Meadow swampland and ended in a parking lot for 3,000 cars. Construction began in February, 1959. Four feet of frozen ground had to be blasted to lay foundations for the park — 250 craftsmen and twelve subcontractors worked for four months to complete the park, which included 100,000 yards of paving, one mile of water pipe, ten thousand feet of railroad tracks, seven thousand feet of fence, three thousand trees and one hundred acres of landscape. Prior to construction, several man made ponds existed — land had been taken from this area to fill Logan Airport runways in the ‘50’s. Engineers removed and relocated 200,000 cubic yards of earth to create village roads and parks — 1000 cubic yards of white sand created a beach. Two hundred master carpenters erected the buildings using Victorian, Colonial and Western architecture. One actual antique building, the B&M station from Greenwood (80 years old at the time) was carefully lifed from its foundation and shuttled through town to its new location at Pleasure Island.

    (This station building would ultimately burn down in a disastrous fire.) Begun by William Hawkes of Gloucester, publisher of Child Life magazine, Pleasure Island pioneered a new concept: entertainment blended with education. Among the attractions were a Moby Dick Ride (featuring an authentic Maine-made whaleboat), the Old Smoky Line (featuring a 18-ton narrow gauge steam locomotive), a Pirate Ride (featuring bamboo-thatched pirate boats), Horseless Carriage Rides (featuring four-seater models of the 1911 Cadillac), gold panning, stage coaches, and burro rides. Education attractions included “Breck’s Old Country Store,” the Wayside Grist Mill (featuring Pepperidge Farm products), Friend’s Baked Beanery, Cap’n Snow’s Chowder House, the H.P. Hood & Sons Gay Nineties Ice Cream parlor and the Pepsi-Cola-sponsored Goldspan Gulch soft drink emporium. Ultimately, it was the New England weather that killed the park in 1969. A season of particularly cold summer weather kept tourists away. An attempt to remain open only on weekends was not an economically viable solution.

    On April Fool’s Day, April 1, 1971, one of the final death knells for the park was sounded with a fire alarm received at the Fire Station at 10:14 P.M. ‘Two separate fires were in progress. Of the two building destroyed on that day, one was a local landmark — the old Greenwood railroad depot, which had been moved to park ten years before. (A duplicate of this building was erected in Lomita, California, as part of its railroad museum.) At present, the site is occupied by the Edgewater Park office complex and Reedy Meadow Conservation Land. Learn much more about the Park, and the group that is trying to preserve memorabilia and memories from the park and see many more images at the new Pleasure Island Website developed by Kory Hellmer.


    1. Very interesting Dave, and I had no idea Pleasure Island was begun by William Hawkes of Gloucester. Such great memories and things come out of Gloucester.


      1. I learn something everyday here at GMG and concur with your reply 100% it is a special place…Your post sparked the flame for me to look 🙂
        Kim Richey performs “A Place Called Home” – Cooldog Concerts


  9. Pleasure Island was always a favorite spot and I ended up getting to go there more than a half dozen times. Now every time I take the subway in Boston it reminds me of the spooky rides they had and I live in that crooked house.


  10. All the comments have brought back the details of “that fun place to go”. I now do remember the boat ride, crooked house and yes ~ panning for gold! This post has been summer fun relived on these winter days ~ thanks EJ ~


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