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Rocky Point State Park

Rocky Point State Park
The large arch is one of the few artifacts which remain of the former amusement park.
Map showing the location of Rocky Point State Park
Map showing the location of Rocky Point State Park
Location in Rhode Island
LocationWarwick, Rhode Island, United States
Coordinates41°41′29″N 71°21′48″W / 41.69139°N 71.36333°W / 41.69139; -71.36333[1]
Area120 acres (49 ha)
Elevation16 ft (4.9 m)[1]
Established2014
AdministratorRhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation
WebsiteRocky Point State Park

Rocky Point State Park is a passive use state park on Narragansett Bay in Warwick, Rhode Island. The land has been a public attraction since the mid-1800s, most notably as Rocky Point Amusement Park. When the amusement park closed in 1994, it sat abandoned for years until the city and state purchased the land in stages between 2008 and 2013. It reopened to the public as a state park in October 2014.

History

Rocky Point has been a public attraction since the mid-1800s, located 10 miles from the state capital on a coastal point in Warwick, Rhode Island. William Winslow first began serving dinner and offering amusements when he purchased the land in 1847. By the middle of the 20th century, it was a very popular amusement park offering dozens of rides, including roller coasters, a log flume, Skyliner, Freefall, ferris wheel, and carousel. It was also home to the Shore Dinner Hall, a 4,000-seat food hall just outside the amusement park gates serving clamcakes, steamers, lobster, and New England clam chowder.

Remains of the Skyliner ride's upper turnaround in December 2015.
View of the park, with the Arch on the left and Olympic swimming pool on right

The park was owned by private interests throughout its history. Initially, steamboat captain William Winslow brought passengers there to dine or to use as a park. It was purchased from him in 1865 by Byron Sprague, and sold again in 1869 to the Continental Steamboat Company which brought Randall A. Harrington on to manage it. Harrington built up the popular space into a premier resort. Following a destructive fire in 1883, its character shifted to emphasizing rides, performances, sports, and other attractions.[2] The park changed hands a few times but maintained its popularity throughout the 20th century. In the 1990s, its parent company struggled financially, and the park closed in November 1994. Many of the rides and attractions were sold, but much of the park sat abandoned for years, a popular site for vandals and urban explorers.[3] It became a safety concern after multiple fires, eroding structures, and pervasive vandalism, and demolition of its remains began in May 2007.[3]

Ruins of an old water tank remain on a hill in the east part of the park.

Acquisition for public use

The City of Warwick purchased 41 acres with state and federal funding in 2007, taking the title in August 2008.[4][5] Rocky Point reopened to the public in June 2011, with a freshly paved walking path along the shore.[6] Then-mayor of Warwick, Scott Avedisian, remarked that it was the first time in 80 years that an acre of shoreline was opened in the city for public use.[6]

On election day in 2010, Rhode Island introduced a ballot measure to purchase the remaining 83 acres in and around the site, combining it with the 41 already owned in order to establish it as a state park.[7] The measure passed by a vote ratio of nearly 2:1.[8] The purchase was approved by the Small Business Administration in September 2012 and the last portion of land transferred to the state in March 2013.[9]

The remaining buildings, including the Shore Dinner Hall, were demolished in summer 2014.[10] Once completed, the space was cleaned, developed, and finally reopened as a state park on October 25, 2014.[7][11][12]

Description

Rocky Point is a passive use area, with most of the former amusement park now open space.[13] A few structures from the amusement park remain, including the circa 1906 Circle Swing ride tower; the upper and lower stations and support towers from the Skyliner gondola ride; ruins of an old water tank; and a large arch by the entrance.[14][15] The arch, which was originally one of 11 “Peace Through Understanding” arches for the 1964-65 World's Fair in Flushing, Queens, New York, was subsequently moved to Rocky Point in 1966, and underwent restoration in 2016.[16][17][18][19] In the summer the park screens movies on its lawn and hosts a 5K run.[20][21] In 2017 and 2018, the state park hosted Food Truck Nights. A large public fishing pier was opened in July 2020.[22] It is the only true deep-water fishing pier in the bay.[23]

References

  1. ^ a b "Rocky Point". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ Klyberg, Albert T. "Colonel Randall A. Harrington". Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Needham, Cynthia (May 8, 2007). "It's the end of the line for beloved Rocky Point". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on August 28, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Polichetti, Barbara (August 14, 2008). "No challenges to Warwick's acquisitions of 41 acres of former Rocky Point Amusement Park". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011.
  5. ^ Borkowski, Rob (October 24, 2014). "Warwick, State Officials Celebrate Rocky Point Park's Debut". Warwick Post. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Davis, Paul (June 21, 2011). "Update: Part of Rocky Point Park opens Friday". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "DEM Invites Rhode Islanders to Public Open House at Rocky Point State Park on Saturday, October 25". Rhode Island government website. October 16, 2014. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Rhode Island Capital Bonds for Open Space Question, Question 4 (2010)". Ballotpedia. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Mario Hilario (September 17, 2012). "RI purchases Rocky Point to develop state park". Turnto10.com. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  10. ^ Polichetti, Barbara (July 22, 2014). "Shore Dinner Hall demolition signals new era at Rocky Point park". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Round and Round They Go: Remembering Rocky Point Park". rockypointpark.org. March 24, 2008. Archived from the original on July 7, 2008.
  12. ^ McCaffery, Jen (October 27, 2014). "Reminiscing at Rocky Point". Rhode Island Monthly. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "Rocky Point State Park". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  14. ^ Parker, Paul Edward (January 1, 2015). "First Day Hike highlights newest state park at Rocky Point / Gallery". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  15. ^ Forsberg, Tim (January 21, 2016). "Mystery of the Rocky Point 'Tower'". Warwick Beacon. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  16. ^ Grosch, Connie (September 27, 2016). "Iconic Rocky Point arch unveiled – with fresh paint". Rhode Island Foundation. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  17. ^ "City shows off refurbished Rocky Point arch". TurnTo10.com. NBC 10 News. September 26, 2016. Archived from the original on September 28, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  18. ^ Borkowski, Rob (September 27, 2016). "Officials Unveil A Restored Rocky Point Arch". Warwick Post. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  19. ^ LaCross, George (February 21, 2018). "Rocky Point's *Peace* of History". Amusement Parks and beyond!. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  20. ^ Tomison, Bill (June 14, 2016). "Movies in the Park returns, kicking off with 'Happy Feet'". WPRI-TV. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  21. ^ Borkowski, Rob (June 27, 2015). "Rocky Point 5K Draws 530 Runners for Third Year". Warwick Post. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  22. ^ Borkowski, Rob (July 1, 2020). "Rocky Point Fishing Pier Opens". Warwick Post. Archived from the original on August 13, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  23. ^ Kuffner, Alex. "New attraction at Rocky Point: a fishing pier". The Providence Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
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Rocky Point State Park
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