The last piece is a crowd favorite, especially for those individuals whose parents or grandparents took them in the 1940-50’s to a small amusement park at the gateway to Bexley – at the corner of East Main Street and Alum Creek Drive.
Named for Robert S. Norwood – who leased the ground in 1941 from the City of Columbus – this amusement park occupied about two acres.
The site is reported to have contained over 40 rides, including a small Ferris Wheel, little car rides, a train ride, a tilt-o whirl and other games, picnic tables and a shelter house. The sound of a calliope could be heard across the grounds playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” as children played Skee Ball and other arcade games.
The last Columbus amusement park to close, Norwood’s Park ceased operation around 1957 and was torn down as part of the I-70 construction.
See more maps and information at http://www.davealthoff.com/ap/norwood/index.html , at http://www.davealthoff.com/ap/norwood/jbosveld.html, and at https://www.columbusnavigator.com/history-columbus-amusement-parks/.
In 2006, the City of Bexley and the Tree and Public Parks Commission renovated the site, turning it into a beautiful park setting named Pump House Park. The park renovation was accomplished with financial assistance from ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources), Bexley-Whitehall Rotary, City of Bexley and others.
The planning process to initiate the project was funded by a $5,000 grant from the Bexley Heritage Fund – which was the forerunner to the Bexley Community Foundation.
What is less well known about the Norwood/Pumphouse Park site is what you can’t see…
Underneath the southern half of the site is a massive 15’ deep concrete storm water storage tank measuring 210’ by 121’ in size, and a variety of large drainage pipes. By rough calculations, the tank can hold approximately 2.5 million gallons of stormwater.
The tank was designed to double in size going north, but this never occurred. (The author is resisting adding some comment about the similarities between the storage function of the Alum Creek storm water tank and a few too many Bexley basements.)
Today, the east side of Alum Creek boasts a walking trail (a favorite with dog walkers) that connects East Main Street at the north with Livingston Avenue at the south, and services Schneider Park, a playground, the new community gardens and athletic fields along the trail – oh, and a fenced dog park that is currently under construction.
Walking along the trail, you might notice what looks like a chunk of rock with a great deal of graffiti. This is what remains of the Interurban Train trestle that ran across Alum Creek at this point.
Plans are underway for a midpoint bridge crossing over Alum Creek that will connect to the Alum Creek bikeway along the west edge of the creek, continuing the ongoing improvement of all Alum Creek frontage for park and recreational use.
The Bexley Historical Society is considering supporting the placement of an Historical Marker on the site – memorializing the Norwood Amusement Park. If you have any pictures from the park, we would love to collect and share with the community.
Written by Lawrence Helman, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
Edited by Martina Campoamor, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
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Reginald Green says:March 12, 2023 at 1:58 pm
Growing up very near Norwood in Hanford Village (an incorporated town back then) i spent a fair amount of time at that park. i remember Eddie Saunders, disc jockey from WVKO doing live broadcasts from near the Dodge car house. It would serve as a short cut home to Hanford when we went to the grocery store, library or Capital University in Bexley. It was an eerie place in the late fall and winter months when the park was shut down. But it brought great joy in the Spring when the park opened for a new season.
Bexley Historical Society says:March 12, 2023 at 10:28 pm
Reginald, thank you for sharing such incredible memories with us. We appreciate it and are glad our article touched on that nostalgia for you.