Guest Blogger Regina Jennings – The Coney Island of the Tri-State District

The Coney Island of the Tri-State District

By Regina Jennings

Whether you get a big bonus at work or flat out win the lottery, what do you start planning immediately? For most people, they make plans for a vacation to one of those fancy theme parks.

The citizens of Joplin, Missouri, were no different.

The little mining town of Joplin had, after a fashion, won the lottery. Situated on the nation’s richest lead and zinc fields, what had been only a small camp site and scattered farms after the Civil War was producing seventy-five percent of America’s zinc by 1895. For every railroad car of ore shipped out of Jasper County, bags of money were rolling back in. But instead of visiting a theme park, Joplin decide to build their own.

Schifferdecker Park Promenade


In the 1890s, successful brewer Charles Schifferdecker purchased a dairy farm on the outskirts of Joplin. Seeing an opportunity with his new land acquisition, he leased ten acres to some businessmen for the formation of an amusement park. Eventually Schifferdecker transferred more land to the partnership until Schifferdecker Park had expanded to 160 acres and became the premier attraction in the area.

Over 12,000 people attended the Park’s grand opening on June 10, 1909, making it the largest gathering ever in the Tri-State District. On that day, visitors could tour the extensive gardens, slide or dive into the pool, boat across the lagoon, roller skate at the rink, play tennis, attend concerts and animal exhibitions, and enjoy Schifferdecker’s brew at the biergarten in a replica German village.

And just twenty years after the invention of the roller coaster, upstart Joplin had three of them. In my book Engaging Deception, Olive and Maxfield have a thrilling encounter on the Dazy Dazer.

I thought it better to put them on the Dazy Dazer than the Figure 8, which was demolished in 1916 for being “a menace to safety.” Roller coasters, animal shows and roller skating, but what Schifferdecker Park became famous for was its amazing light display.

Schifferdecker Park became known as the Electric Park because of the 40,000 incandescent bulbs installed on its structures. At a time when electricity was used sparingly and cautiously, Joplin had a Tower of Light that was 125 feet high and covered in 10,000 light bulbs. It was a marvelous feat of engineering and a source of pride for everyone in the region.

Tower of Lights

While Schifferdecker and Joplin had the riches to build the magnificent Electric Park, it did not have the population to sustain it. With the vast grounds, attractions and electricity usage, the Park was horribly expensive to maintain. Schifferdecker’s Electric Park was closed in 1913 and Schifferdecker donated 40 acres of the property to the City of Joplin with the understanding that it would always be used as a public park. Although the Tower of Lights is long gone, people still gather on Schifferdecker’s land for fun and relaxation.

Speaking of fun and relaxation, you could use a break! Take a literary trip to turn-of-the-century Joplin with Engaging Deception. It releases December 13 and is available for pre-order now. Not only that, but the first two books in the series (Courting Misfortune and Proposing Mischief) are on ebook sale for the month of November. Only 99 cents and $2.99 for them!


To win a paperback copy of Engaging Deception, leave a comment below letting me know which theme park is your favorite! The fillies will pick a winner and you’ll get a copy in the mail after the release date. (US residents only, please.)

Connect with Regina at:




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59 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Regina Jennings – The Coney Island of the Tri-State District”

  1. I would say my favorite amusement part is either Hersey Park in Pennsylvania because I love chocolate and enjoyed going there or Carowinds because it’s close to my home, I’m more familiar with it, and it has some great features.

    (Because of vision problems, I would prefer an ebook if I win, but I would also treasure a signed print copy, although I won’t be able to read it.)

  2. How interesting! Reminds me of how Milton Hershey began Hershey Park.

    We go to Hershey Park each year because it’s my husband’s company picnic, and they cover everything, including parking and catered food for four hours.

  3. I’ve been to only one theme park in my life. And I am old! Disneyland in California holds my heart. I’ve been to our state fair and county fair many times. Oh, and maybe the fun Branson, Missouri has to offer might qualify as being close to a theme park. The book cover is stunning! Congratulations on your upcoming book release. I enjoyed your blog today. Thank you.

  4. I’ve been to Disney three or four times, Epcot twice, Sea World, the old Circus World, and Kennedy Space Center. Personally, I like Kennedy Space Center the best.

  5. Welcome, Regina. It’s great to have you back. I had no idea Joplin built such a thing. Wow, very interesting! That was so unusual for the times. I’m not big on theme parks but I took my kids to Six Flags Over Texas quite a few times. I also went to one in Oklahoma City but I can’t recall the name. Thanks for coming. Enjoy your visit. And good luck with your new book!

  6. Size doesn’t matter to me because, hands down, Dollywood is, and always will be, my favorite park. It is geared to all ages, has all kinds of entertainment and FOOD to die for. Not to mention, it is in the most beautiful state I can imagine. I am truly in love with east Tennessee and have lived within this area for twenty years.

  7. Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. When I was in College close to Branson we would go there between working on campus and working on the strip in town. We lived there for 5 years before the by pass roads were put in and it built up to what it is today. In that time the winter months were all about family and the entire town was like a family. I miss the Fire in the Hole ride and the caves. My youngest just went down there and now she wants to work in the caves under the park.

  8. I’ve always liked Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California, grew up very close to it and am old enough to remember when it was free.

  9. I live in Neosho, Missouri, just 20 minutes south of Joplin, so we go there often. I enjoyed reading the history of Schifferdecker Park.

    My favorite theme park of all, hands down, is Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri!!! I’ve been going there almost all my life & we love it! It’s a family-friendly park & the owners stand on godly principals. I’ve been to several other theme parks in my lifetime & SDC outshines them all! 🙂

  10. I love that picture with you sitting next to that wonderful stack of books. Welcome today. Oh but this is really interesting information. Thanks for sharing. I dont really go to these parks much anymore. But when I was in high school Six Flags in Illinois is close and we went all the time. We would pack our lunch and make a day of it. We live close to the Botanical Gardens and we visit this all the time. I am going to have to go back to paper back books. me tablet is telling me it is full and will not accept anything else. frustrating. even after I deleted so much. oh well. I love the smell and feel of paper books

    • My husband and I went to Silver Dollar City last year for a bluegrass music festival and we didn’t even ride any rides. I never thought I would go to a theme park and not ride the rides, but funny how things change. Good luck in the drawing.

  11. I have never been to any of the theme parks. I am more of a National or State park and museum visitor. Our girls and their families love Disney World and prefer it over Disneyland.

    Thanks for the history of Joplin. I had no idea it was a mining area.

  12. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is my favorite, I’ve been going there for years! They also have Halloween weekends in October!

  13. When I was younger, I loved Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We would make a point of going every year. I loved the roller coasters. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  14. I loved King’s Island & Disney World. King’s Island has the best roller coasters, they are Fast!!!! Disney World is more laid back on the coasters, but; they have the tea cups!!!! Thanks, for the chance to win.
    Enjoy your books. Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family

  15. We have a special place in our hearts for Walt Disney World in Florida. It opened a couple months after we got engaged and we went after that Thanksgiving weekend. We were fortunate to have friends that worked at Disney and later were retired from it. Over the years we have been lucky enough to go as their guests free of charge. Our children have been many times as we watched the park grow and develop. Sadly, our friends have passed and the rules for bringing guests in have changed. Our daughter has two friends that work there so we can still get in. We have favorite exhibits we always go to and are looking forward to when we can go to the new Star Wars section. There is something for everyone in the different parts of the park and we always enjoy ourselves.
    I hope you are enjoying Fall and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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