Monday, April 14, 2014

Seeking out the former White Swan Park April 14th 2014

We did not get terribly far on this search. We ended up finding that White Swan was located on the old alignment for McClaren Road right by the airport. The park opened up in the 1960s as a small family park. The main goal was to create a spontaneous and fun place to visit for the locals. The park had a Schiff Wild Mouse that ended up being moved to Lakemont. This mouse would be retired from Lakemont in 2003. The park also had a Galaxi that ended up in Lubbock, Texas at Joyland, a park that appears to be similar to White Swan as far as coaster offerings.

Similar to Rainbow Gardens in McKeesport, this park would fall victim to highway planning. As opposed to Rainbow Gardens, this highway expansion actually happened. This was built up on the premise of the expansion of the Pittsburgh Airport. While the airport turned out beautifully when it was debuted in 1992, however, it would only see full capacity for less than a decade. US Air, the airline that called Pittsburgh its main hub since its founding, said "Ehhh we are going to consolidate our hub operations to Philadelphia and Charlotte." This decision made quite a bit of sense due to those areas being much larger metro areas but the Pittsburgh airport was built specifically for US Air's needs.
This is just a picture we took of a plane taking off from the airport, this is not the park site.
The airline pulled its hub operations out of this giant and beautiful airport before it was even paid off by the local government. By 2012, the 20th anniversary of the giant airport, passenger traffic was estimated to be at 40.8 million. Instead the number in 2012 was 8.3 million (Numbers from Post-Gazette) Now the airport sits as a shell, with several terminals walled off and the others operating at a diminished capacity. It is a great airport to fly out of because it was built for high efficiency, but it was disastrous for the community. US Air once employed 18,000 people in the Pittsburgh region and that is down to 1,800, with many more jobs headed out due to the pending US Airways and American Airlines merger in which the last vestige of the hub, the airplane service center, will have its operations diverted to American's base in Dallas.
1967 Aerial Photo from Penn Pilot
Google Earth View
The Pittsburgh area has been hurt in these ways in addition to losing a small amusement park in the process. The highway expansion is used, but I believe that the original highway alignment would have sufficed instead of tearing out a little amusement park to create an off ramp for a highway and leave the rest of the park sitting as untouched woods and fields since 1989/1990.
Beaver County Times-August 6, 1989
If you are in the Lubbock Texas area, you can see the Galaxi still live on and bring joy to riders at Joyland.
Photo credit to Larry Pieniazek
Additionally, the park's Tilt-A-Whirl ended up at Knoebels. In this video you can see families having a blast on the ride.
Even though the park is gone, remnants of the park are still bringing joy to folks in addition to recalling the memories that remain, long after the park bit the dust. 
Photo Credit to "Canonsburg Friends"
Does anyone know the whereabouts of the other rides? I read that the train is in a private collection. I assume that the Skooters were Lusse. Perhaps some of them are in the Knoebels fleet now? I know that the scooters from several parks are in their collection. I am also eying up that Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel. I love those. Does anyone know where everything landed or possibly have the auction record?


  1. The first picture,(the gate with the "YY" on it) is not a correct depiction of where or how you got to the park. The road is still there and kinda open, there are road closed signs not fully blocking the roads

    1. where is the road? I drive airport shuttles past the area and always look for some sign of where it stood. I know the little crick (creek) ran thru the park as I used to toss stones into it on the way in when I was a kid.

  2. I wondered the same thing. I'd like to find a piece of whats left and metal detect it!!