Memories of White Swan Park

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White Swan Park didn't have the fastest roller coasters like West View Park, and it really wasn't a place classmates gathered each spring for school picnics like Kennywood Park.

But the small amusement park that occupied the land at what is now the junction of Route 60 and Business Route 60 on the border of Findlay and Moon still was a popular spring and summer attraction for corporate, group and civic events.

All that's left today are the memories.

White Swan Park was torn down to clear a path for the relocation of Route 60 and access to the new Pittsburgh International Airport after the 1989 season -- its 34th year of operation.

The park occupied about 40 acres and featured a kiddie park and 15 rides such as the Galaxy, a merry-go-round, the Scrambler, a Ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl, Mad Mouse roller coaster, a giant slide and a train billed as "the longest train ride in the Tri-State."

White Swan also had a pavilion of midway games, six picnic shelters, a Skee-Ball building, a miniature golf course and a refreshment stand.

The park opened in 1955 with seven rides.

After it closed, the amusements and other artifacts were sold at auction. The Mad Mouse, for example, was moved to a park in Altoona, and the Galaxy was shipped to Lubbock, Texas.

What many people remember most fondly about White Swan Park (named because of the original idea to put swans on the lakes on park grounds) were the park's operators -- a brother and sister team, Roy Todd and Margaret Kleeman, who, along with Mrs. Kleeman's husband, built the park.

Mrs. Kleeman died in 1998.

"She knew the value of an education,'' said her son, William Kleeman, of Moon, in her obituary notice. "She paid a few tuitions for kids who otherwise wouldn't have been able to go to college."

According to the story, more than 5,000 high school and college students worked at the park in 34 years.

"She took a personal interest in those kids, encouraged them to stay in school and tried to keep them on the straight and narrow," said Nancy Kury, Mrs. Kleeman's daughter-in-law and a former park employee.

Mrs. Kleeman saw to it that good work in the classroom also paid off for the park's younger customers. They would line up with their report cards, and she would give them four amusement tickets for every A and two tickets for every B.

"Kids who lived out of state would bring their report cards when they visited their grandparents here,'' William Kleeman said. "She loved it."



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