Indianola Park arose from the collaboration of two men: Columbus’ Charles E. Miles and Pittsburgh’s Frederick Ingersoll.

Charles E. Miles (1866-1939) was a Columbus dentist turned real estate developer. Back in 1900, with the Summit Land Company, he developed and sold lots in the new Indianola Summit and other subdivisions east of The Ohio State University, between North High Street and the NYCCC railroad tracks. The office for the Indianola Summit development was located at the corner of N. 4th Street and E. 19th, exactly where Indianola Park would later rise.

Miles saw to it that some tennis courts were built on the land adjacent to the office. He used these as an inducement to get people up to the area so that he and his salesmen could persuade them to buy a lot. Ideally, families would come out, play some tennis, have a picnic, take a tour with a salesman, then return to the office and sign a contract to buy a lot.

Maybe this is where Miles got the idea that there was money to be made in amusements.

Luna Park, Coney Island, New York, 1904

However Miles got the idea, there was plenty of evidence to support it.

In 1903, Luna Park, the first modern amusement park, opened at New York’s Coney Island.

A candy-colored confection of exotic architecture, electric lights, music, dancing, swimming, thrill rides, and fast food, the park saw 60,000 visitors on its opening day.

The park was so successful that owners were able to pay off  nearly $1 million in debts and start earning profits after just three months in operation. The next year was an even bigger success with over 4 million visitors.

News like that got around.

Soon entrepreneurs across America were racing to put up amusement parks in their own cities so they too could start raking in the cash.

Like a drive-in in the 1950s or a disco in the 1970s, amusement parks were the place to be in the first decades of the 20th Century.

Imitation Luna Parks soon sprouted from coast-to-cost and most were a success. The public loved the new amusement parks and showered park operators with their money.

The other figure behind the creation of Indianola was intimately involved in this early 20th Century amusement park boom. He was Frederick Ingersoll.

Pittsburgh-based Ingersoll saw the success of Luna Park in New York and began opening amusement parks across the nation. The Luna Parks in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, both opened in 1905, were two of his largest ventures.

Ingersoll also developed parks for investors and manufactured and sold amusement rides. His company built over 200 Figure Eight roller coasters for installation in parks throughout North America. It also designed and built the popular scenic railway attractions.

Left: View from top of the Shoot-the-Chutes ride at Ingersoll's Luna Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1907

Amazing high-resolution photographs of Luna Park, New York and Luna Park, Pittsburgh can be seen at Shorpy Photo Archive. Be sure to look at the full size images. It's almost like being there in person.

Ingersoll's Luna Park in Cleveland, Ohio, 1905

Ingersoll's experience told him what rides were most popular, what foods sold best, how much to charge, and even how far apart to locate refreshment stands. He knew his business.

Ingersoll's experience had given him another key for success: a formula for locating successful amusement parks. Indianola Park's proposed location was perfect:



Access to streetcar and interurban lines Access to N. 4th Street line on west side of park, Columbus, Delaware, and Marion Interurban on east side of park. Within easy walking distance of the Summit St. line.
Close to population centers On north side of Columbus in the middle of a new and growing neighborhood, minutes from Ohio State University and its students, convenient for crowds attending the Ohio State Fair
Outside city limits Indianola was just outside of city limits and therefore exempt from the city's blue laws that forbade dancing and certain other amusements on Sundays. It also escaped various taxes, licenses, and fees.
On a hill (so lights, fireworks, etc. could be seen from a distance) Located 828 feet above sea level on the east terrace of the Olentangy Valley. Up to 100 feet above the valley floor. Lights easily visible to thousands of people up to a mile and a half away.

History doesn't record the precise details but we know that, in early 1905, Charles E. Miles and Frederick Ingersoll got together to make some money by creating Indianola Park.

Detail from a c. 1910 Detroit Publishing Company photograph of the view from Orton Hall's bell tower. On the eastern horizon , you can see the spire of Indianola Park's Shoot-the-Chutes ride and, just to the right of it, the central tower of the Circle Swings ride.