As with almost any new place, Lincoln Park had a humble beginning. It began as a small park on twenty acres with picnic tables and a playground. Located between Fall River and New Bedford on the Westport/Dartmouth town line, it was a perfect place for trolley companies to draw the public to. It created business for the trolley companies on the weekend, while bringing enjoyment and relaxation to families. Lincoln Park opened on July 4th, 1894 drawing so many people that the trolleys had difficulty getting everyone home at days end.
The name Lincoln Park was drawn from a contest. Originally the park was referred to as Midway Park and Westport Park despite being in Dartmouth. As the popularity grew so did the attractions. The addition of concession stands, the original Loof Carousel installed in 1895, a ballroom, and a Giant Coaster was added in 1912. From 1912 to 1920 the park hosted the Southern New England Country Fair.
In 1921 the park opened a new dance hall and the new Carousel which remained operational in the park until 1985.
The park continued to grow and became an amusement park in later years. In 1941 Boston investors purchased it for $40,000. The three owners, Harry Prince, Max Zand and John Collins made major improvements to the park, while still maintaining the family atmosphere.
A new coaster, the Comet was built in the late 40s at the cost of $80,000. A 14-lane bowling alley was built. The park grew from 20 to over 40 acres. An improved dance hall, a boathouse, Ferris wheel, more concessions stands, games and clambakes were added or improved upon.
It was truly a golden time for Lincoln Park and THE place to be in Southern New England.
Sadly over the years the original owners passed away and in the late 1980s the park was sold. For the first time ever there was admission to get in. Picnicking was no longer free. Several landmark rides were auctioned off to "improve" the park, such as the Carousel, which resides in Fall River at Heritage State Park. Unfortunately the park lost much of its original character, and in 1987, only a year after the new owner took over; the park was closed forever.
The rides were auctioned off and Lincoln Park became silent during the summer months for the first time in 93 years.
Over the late 1980s and early 1990s fires were intentionally and accidently started, destroying the buildings at Lincoln Park, until 90 % of the park was gone.
Today the Comet coaster stands, in poor shape after years of fending for itself. In 2005 during the heavy January snow the lift hill collapsed, leaving only the downside portion of the hill jutting eerily toward the sky. In May of 2008 the roof of the station to board the coaster collapsed onto the track and queue line space below it. And in May of 2009, the back loop collapsed in on itself.
Other than the Comet; the Popcorn stand, Fun House turned gift shop, the Pizza Stand, Grand Central Station, German Carousel Roof and a few scattered signs and mini golf structures are all that remain.
The Park has been sold many times and there are plans to develop it into housing and retail stores. The current development plan seems to be in limbo.
While it will never return to the original Lincoln Park, we can contact our state and local representatives and work together to bring the land back to the people of Southern New England. It could be returned to a park again. Fields for games, craft fairs and kite flying. Paved trails for walking, biking and roller blading. A stage for live local entertainment, and for the smell of clamcakes, and other New England favorites to fill the air again. Who wouldn't love to visit the land and remember their fond times there while creating new ones with family and friends.