Parks & Facilities Blog
Carey Park on the south end of Hutchinson is the largest park in our park system. The 365 acre park is also by far the most popular park in the area, and on several occasions has been voted as “best place to play” in the Hutchinson News annual surveys. The Park offers numerous amenities including one of the area’s most prestigious public golf courses, an AZA accredited Zoo, the Salt City Splash Aquatic Facilities, Hobart Detter ballfield and the Hutchinson Skatepark to name just a few.
Many who grew up in or around the Hutchinson area can recall the wonderful times they had growing up and visiting Carey Park for family events, to play numerous sporting events, enjoying a nice swim at the pool on a hot summers day, fishing in the ponds or just to play on the numerous playgrounds in the Park. Being a “transplant” myself, I enjoy hearing the many stories from long-time residents of their experiences in Carey Park. This made me think that it would be nice if the public had some knowledge of the Parks history and how/when it was established. The following information (and pictures) should help in that regard and hopefully you will find them as interesting as I did.
Originally Carey Park was not called that at all. There was an area on the north end at the Main Street entrance known as Riverside Park that was developed by Konrad “Koon” Beck. This park was open from 1902-1932 and included an amusement park with carousels, Ferris wheel, roller coaster, an amphitheater with several lagoons/ponds and wildlife area. It was known as the “Coney Island of the West” and entertained thousands of guests weekly in the early 1900’s. It hosted the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus at one time that brought in 30,000 visitors.
On May 23, 1921 Emerson Carey donated 200 acres south of Riverside Park to the City of Hutchinson. May 21, 1922 was the formal opening of Carey Park. In 1932 the area known as Riverside Park was purchased by the City of Hutchinson for $3,500. In 1935 the City built and dedicated the “Carey Park Memorial Fountain” in honor of Emerson Carey. The fountain originally faced north to the entrance of the park and had a circle drive around it. In April 1952 the fountain was moved to its current location (east of the Main Street entrance) by Foy Construction.
An area known as “Rock Hill” was established in the new Carey Park area. Rock Hill was a vast area with ponds, lagoons and numerous fountains lined with native stone (limestone rock – thus the name Rock Hill). As you travel through the north end of the Park you can still see remnants of the original Rock Hill such as an extended rock wall that runs from the Main Street entrance and south approximately 300’. There are also limestone pillar structures at the Main Street entrance to Carey Park that are attached to the rock wall.
It is told that the area known as the “Carey Park Boathouse” was at one time the entrance building to what was at that time a public swimming pool. Later the pool was replaced with a lagoon area that exists today. At some point, there apparently were paddle boats that were allowed on the lagoon. The dock area for the paddle boats still exist including mooring rails. On the south end of the existing lagoon area (off of Redman Drive) are some more limestone pillar structures that were the main entrance to the swimming pool. The lagoon area has limestone waterfall fountains.