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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Fontaine Ferry Park: Open For One More Summer

Friday May 15, 2009

Louisvillians can revisit amusement park memories

at Frazier Museum May 16-Sept. 8

First kisses atop the Ferris wheel, first pony rides. Picnics under the white-washed trees, afternoons spent at the roller rink. Talk to any number of people who visited Fontaine Ferry Park and you’ll find that nostalgia and memories abound.

Today, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and Dr. Madeleine Burnside, executive director of the Frazier International History Museum, introduced the museum’s new Fontaine Ferry exhibit, which opens Saturday. The 3,800-square-foot temporary exhibit explores this integral part of Louisville’s history and opens in conjunction with the anniversary of the park’s closing 40 years ago this month.

From 1905 to 1969, Fontaine Ferry Park represented the very best of times for hundreds of thousands who enjoyed innocent hours of entertainment in the West Louisville amusement park on the banks of the Ohio River. For others, it was a sign of the times – a place they weren’t allowed access because of the color of their skin.

"With the advantage of time, we can now step back and relive cherished memories of Fontaine Ferry, while also seeing the other side of the story….of exclusion, of segregation, of a civil rights struggle," Abramson said.

Fontaine Ferry runs through September 8 and traces the 64-acre park’s history from its heyday to closing day. The exhibit documents the park’s beginnings as a boat landing in 1814, through the Great Depression and the 1937 flood to the attraction’s demise amid the effects of urban flight and racial tensions of the civil rights movement. The history of the park is explored through memorabilia, text panels, photographs, video, oral histories, sound effects and interactive games. The exhibit features more than 200 original artifacts including wooden carousel horses, penny-arcade machines, funhouse mirrors, personal keepsakes and an array of entertainment items.

The Frazier Museum is hosting several special events and educational programs related to Fontaine Ferry, including Gypsy Village Night at the Frazier, Collectors Day and Family Discovery Days. A July 14 panel discussion, entitled “Outside Looking In: Fontaine Ferry & the Struggle for Civil Rights,” will feature moderator Steve Crump and panelists Senator Gerald Neal, author and historian Lynn Renau, Karen Edwards-Hunter and others who will discuss the 1964 integration of Fontaine Ferry in the context of the broader Civil Rights movement.

Visit for the most up-to-date calendar of events or, for more information, call (502) 753-5663. This exhibit is sponsored by Bosse Mattingly, Kerr-Greulich Engineers, Blake & Others Information Technology, Porter Paints and Murphy Elevator.