Among the many parks that the City has to offer its residents, there is perhaps one park that is well known amongst those who have lived in the City for over five decades.
Illustration: Max Moreno
Many of those who were born after the 80’s here in the City will never believe that Streamland Park was once a bustling small amusement park. You take a look today, and it’s your traditional park. There’s baseball fields, a playground, and picnic areas. But imagine over 50 years ago, a lake, a miniature steam engine train, games, all of which were offered at Streamland Park. Believe it or not, you could even find a three-horned three-eyed bull named Elmer.
If you ask a long time resident about Streamland Park and they happen to know of it, which most do, you will see a smile, and you will notice that when they talk about it, it gives them that sense of nostalgia. It really is quite interesting to know that such a place existed. But where did it exist? A small remnant of Streamland Park is still there today. If you drive over Rosemead Boulevard just past Gallatin Road, you will see a dead-end road. That turn off used to be the Streamland Park turn off. According to some who used to work or used to visit the park, Streamland Park opened sometime in the 1940s.
Finding pictures and videos on the internet, you will find more proof that this park existed. You may find pictures of children riding small rocket rides or playing games. Many children rode the Venice Miniature Railway, later replaced by the Galloping Goose, both were small trains that circled the park. Many opted to ride an amusement park favorite, the carousel. Admission to the park was free and people were able to purchase tickets like they would today at any carnival or fair. Back then, you could get 10 tickets for $1 and each kiddie ride cost 1 ticket while a big adult ride would cost 2 tickets. The park itself was only open on weekends, mostly when company picnics would take place.
According to Paul Brewer, a former employee, at Streamland Park, the park consisted of much more than just the carousel and steam train. The park also included picnic grounds, a trout farm, and carnival booths, along with a selection of other rides such as a kiddie coaster, Ferris wheel, midget racer, an octopus ride, and a roller plane, to name a few. The unique thing about these rides according to Paul is that these rides were the real deal. These rides were built back in the 1930s and 1940s and were built tough. Nothing like what is out there today.
From Paul’s point of view, Streamland Park was a fun place to work. Paul worked at the park from 1965 to 1970 and he still has his work shirt. He began his work at the ripe old age of 15. According to Paul, the average worker was approximately 15 years old with some in their 20’s. Paul had great memories of working at the park, “Streamland Park holds a special place in my heart” said Paul. His first assignment was a ticket taker on the steam train. He later moved up to the kiddie rides and finally to the big rides. He earned $1.35 an hour. The attitude back then according to Paul was a lot more carefree than it is today. Of course, you’ve got rules to abide by, but sometimes mischief calls. He recalls some of the incidents and situations in which some of his co-workers would get into. In the end though, it was all in good fun. However, for Paul, there was one situation that wasn’t fun and landed him in the hospital for three weeks.
While working on the Galloping Goose, a gasoline-powered miniature train, Paul was filling the train with gasoline when a static electricity spark ignited the gasoline and burned him. As he was recounting the story with a little laughter, he went to the hospital himself not knowing the destruction that was left behind. He spent three weeks at the former Pico Rivera Community Hospital as doctors were tending to his 1st and 2nd-degree burns on his face and arms. The train, it was damaged as well as part of a wooden structure. However, it was rebuilt, and Paul would eventually come back to work.
Paul came back to the same Streamland Park that he knew and that visitors knew. Many memories were made at that park and more stories to be told.
Wesley Kruse was no stranger to Streamland Park. As previously told, his family owned the successful Kruse Dairy located at the north end of the City. While recounting memories of the Dairy, Wesley talked about his memories of Streamland Park.
Wesley started going to the park when he was 5 years old. He recounts going to the park quite often with his parents and a couple of times with his grandparents. As a kid in an amusement park, he was in awe with all the surroundings, but one thing stood out for him that he never got until he was a little bit older, that was cotton candy. He recollected memories of constantly asking his mother for cotton candy every time they went to the park and his mother would say “it’s all sugar and it’s bad for you.” It wasn’t until one day, when he was 9 or 10 years old, his mother relented, and bought him cotton candy.
Wesley spoke nothing but great things about Streamland Park. He remembers the park as if it were yesterday. He recalls some of the features that many wouldn’t believe existed. One feature, a natural stream that ran through the park. Not to be confused with the trout farm, this was a natural stream with Crawdads and Bluegill fish.
Another memory that coincides with the development of the Whittier Narrows Dam is when the rides had to be relocated due to the widening of Rosemead Boulevard. Prior to the Dam’s existence, Rosemead Boulevard was level, and not what it is today. When the Army Corps of Engineers built the Dam, Rosemead Boulevard had to be elevated and widened. This, however, did not have too much of an impact on the park as it still pressed on.
According to Brewer, the park would meet its demise in the early 1970s and would eventually close. The land was left desolate for approximately a decade. According to Kruse, a trucking company had purchased the land and a truck terminal was to be built. Area residents raised concerns about the project and a referendum was put in place and it was later voted down. The lot sat vacant for several years thereafter until a new gated community was built in the early 1980s. Much of the original Streamland Park now lies in the front yards and backyards of the houses inside the gated community located off of Gallatin Road and Durfee Avenue. Streamland Park though for many longtime residents will always remain a part of their childhood, and it’s a part of this City’s history that many are just learning about.