Saturday, June 22, 2024

Moving History Forward: Playland Pier was fun central

In the fall of 1940, Earl Somers and his wife, Byrd, moved to Coeur d'Alene with the idea of building an amusement park. Earl organized the Coeur d'Alene Lakeside Development Company and began meeting with city officials about leasing land for his amusement park near the new Civic Center in the city park.

It took Somers over a year to convince the city administration that his project was a good thing for Coeur d'Alene. In the spring of 1941, Somers was granted a 15-year lease for a 300-foot section of land for his park, which became known as Playland Pier.

The city of Coeur d'Alene hired George Schneberger to build the pier. By June of that year, a sea-wall was constructed and over 20,000 cubic feet of soil was brought in to create the foundation for the pier. The first permanent structure was a 100-by-40-foot concession and arcade building with a 40-foot tower.

In late spring of 1942, several permanent rides were in place and ready to go. These included a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a miniature roller coaster, a train for kids, a loop-o-plane and a swing that went out over the water. The penny arcade consisted of several amusement machines, a shooting gallery and balloon dart games. Concessions included an array of souvenirs and novelties, plus a soda fountain and sandwich shop.

The grand opening for Playland Pier was July 4, 1942. From 1942 to 1974, Playland Pier, the small amusement park on the banks of Lake Coeur d'Alene, provided many fond memories for thousands of kids of all ages.