Tucked into the northeast corner of the present-day City of Carter Lake, Iowa, is a little street called Sand Point Drive. Once, the area was packed with a swimming pavilion, grand entryway, boardwalks and much more. Built to compete with the Carter Lake Club next door, it never quite got there. Next door, some brothers opened an amusement park using the bones of what had come before, before it was all melted down for the second great war.
Following is a history of Sand Point Beach and the Lakeview Amusement Park.
Opening a Successful Bathing Place
The son of Omaha pioneer John I. Redick, Oak was an industrious, popular and successful attorney, land speculator and capitalist. You might be familiar with his name on the original home of Omaha University, Redick Hall. Anyhow, after inheriting his father John I. Redick’s wealth, Oak became determined to secure the south shoreline of Carter Lake for the public interest. Working with fellow capitalist Ed Cornish, the two did that by 1905, except for the land of the Omaha Rod and Gun Club.
Oak’s plan for the northeast corner unfolded in 1906, and he built bathhouses, boardwalks and a pavilion for summer recreation purposes. Calling the area Sand Point Beach, he advertised extensively in the Omaha World-Herald and the Omaha Bee, promoting his place as an affordable alternative to the Rod and Gun Club. He had North 17th Street covered, and suggested the $.05 streetcar ride down Locust and then transfer to the Carter Lake Club car, with a short walk afterwards.
In 1916, Redick ran into trouble with a man he’d contracted to run the beach. Apparently, Evan Worthing thought he was due all the profits from running the beach since he paid Redick separately for the rental of the site. A judge sided with him, and Redick stopped supporting the beach for a few years. Although there was no advertising, it kept humming along with regular activities announced in the papers and people coming and going.
That same year marked the entry of the Munchoff brothers into the Carter Lake real estate market. Creating a development at the southeast end of the lake called Brighton Beach, in 1916 their names were featured in the newspapers several times. However, it wasn’t until the next year that their ambitions were truly realized.
Lakeview Amusement Park
Labelled “The Joy Spot of Omaha,” in 1917 the Lakeview Amusement Park opened on the east side of the present-day City of Carter Lake, Iowa. Lakeview was complete with a massive roller coaster called a “Jack Rabbit Coaster,” along with a merry-go-round, skating rink, Ferris wheel, a ride called the “Beautiful Ohio,” and another called the “Whirl O’er the World.” They advertised the park as having an “ideal grove for picnics” and having a “big open air garage.” Advertisements said the park was home to “30 high class attractions.”
If that description sounds familiar, its because the owners of the Lakeview Amusement Park bought the rides for their park from the former Courtland Beach Amusement Park, which was located a few blocks away from the 1890s to 1917.
Lakeview Park also featured a miniature train with open cars and a two-foot hall stack on its engine, and was “the attraction that most appeals to children.” In the late 1910s and 1920s, the Carl Lamp jazz band played for the massive dance floor, and had eight members playing. There were also 75 rowboats on the lake, and 350 machines in the penny arcade.
Billboard magazine reported the Munchhoff Brothers, who originally ran Krug Park and Courtland Beach, opened the park. John Miller from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company was hired to design the Jack Rabbit, and the Old Mill, both of which were featured for years.
“One of the chief features now under construction is the large Jack Rabbit underfriction coaster, which is one of the very latest rides being built. This coaster is said to be a great deal more exciting and thrilling than the old style, due to the fact that the cars are run in trains with three cars each.”
That same year, the Neptune Park and Wavecrest additions were planned south of the Sand Point Beach and north of Lakeview. Neptune Place was originally built with above average homes for businessmen, company officials and government employees. Today, its most identifiable feature are the streets that make it obvious, along with Neptune Circle, which is in the middle of the development.
After the Great War ended, the beach was revisited by Redick and souped up again. Redick broke ground on a new $25,000 bathhouse. He also repaved the road to the beach to bring cars directly to the bathhouse, where there was a parking lot in front. The Sand Point Beach was redone with new sand covering the beach and going into the swimming area, as well as other new buildings including a new pavilion. Lakeview Amusement Park announced it was returning to pre-war prices for entertainment. It was suddenly competing with an up-and-coming affair called the Peony Park, which was affordable, too.
For several years during the 1920s, Lakeview Park hosted a pow-wow for the Winnebago and Omaha nations. According to the newspaper, “this attraction has proved to be one of the most popular ever at Lakeview.” The park was also the site of one of the largest weddings ever held in Omaha in 1920. Rev. Charles W. Savidge, who was called the “Marrying Parson,” officiated over a public wedding with 10,000 attendees. It was a gimmick featuring E. E. Harrington and his bride, Anna Nielsen, and although it didn’t set a record, it was noted in the newspaper more than 20 years later. There was a long distance swimming classic launched between Sand Point Beach and the Carter Lake Club in the 1920s, too. Swimmers came from three states, and the battles had focused on proving which club was best.
In 1924, the State of Iowa banned dancing on Sunday through what was called a “blue law.” The Munchoff brothers, who by then ran the Lakeview Park, vowed to fight the law on the basis that the City was “passing the buck” on responsibility for enforcing the law. However, the Council Bluffs mayor swore he’d fight to enforce it, so they were in conflict.
In May 1933, the dance hall at Lakeview Park was renovated. That same year, a different battle happened when a court case was brought against Hermann Munchoff, a 3/5s owner of the Lakeview Park property. Other owners, including up to 30 people, settled with Munchoff to ensure future development of the land. That same year, athletic contests started to be held at the Lakeview Amusement Park.
The Carter Lake Arena
That same year, on the first of June, Japanese lanterns lit up a ring with in the middle of the dance floor, with seating for 2,500 spectators, while lilac blossoms and foliage hung from the rafters. Wrestlers Gus Sonnenberg and Scotty Dawkins used “awesome, sweaty” “complicated arm and shoulder holds, headlocks and one drawn out foot straigthener.” Dawkins used the “flying mare trick,” and much more. The matches went on for hours.
Through the summer of 1933, Lakeview was the “scene of many a rough-and-tumble,” but was quiet for most of 1934. In August though, a battle between Pesek and LaDitzi ensured “each of the gladiators has promised to do his bit toward making revival night at the Carter Lake arena a big success.” That arena was at Lakeview Park.
Later that year, the Lakeview Amusement Park went up for sale. In 1935, Donald Broadkey bought the Lakeview Amusement Park land from Herman Munchhoff. The property included 35 acres and several buildings, and sold for $12,500.
By 1940, there was a regular gathering of the Lakeview Roller Review at the park, held as a benefit for the Lions Club. The Lakeview Roller Hockey Club was also active there regularly.
In just a few more years, all of the big rides at the Lakeview Amusement Park were taken away as scrap to support the World War II effort. More than 16-tons were removed. After 1945, there were no signs left of what had existed, including the roller coaster, merry-go-round and other elements.
Open from 1917 to 1935, there’s no sign left of this one-time wonderland, “the joy place of Omaha,” the amusement park and all the other grandeur of the Sand Point Beach and Lakeview Amusement Park. I can’t even find pictures!
Special thanks to Ryan Roenfeld for his contributions to this article. Please share any information, memories, pics or otherwise with me and comment here!