SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Many know of Nibley Park, now Utah’s oldest public golf course, but most today will have no memory of what stood there before — Wandamere Amusement Park.
Considered to be the premiere spot for recreation in Salt Lake City during the late 1800s into the early 1900s, the amusement park had something for all ages at that time.
Opened in 1864 with the name “Calder Park” for its founders George and Mary B. Calder, it was constructed on a large spot of land stretching approximately 64 acres — surrounded by soggy swamps and containing a small lake.
As it developed, various recreation was added for those who visited, including a merry-go-round, dance pavilion, concert stage, racetrack, log flume, scenic railway, and relaxing boat rides.
Even more there for visitors to see was a picturesque bridge made with elegant wood latticework and adorned with clusters of flowers.
When the park underwent further improvements with thousands of dollars invested, its name was changed to Wandamere — with “Wanda” claimed to be of Indian origin, meaning “beautiful place,” and “mere,” an Anglo-Saxon root meaning “little lake.”
At the height of its popularity, Wandamere Amusement Park would see over 100,000 patrons in a season. Though in 1913, as a local department store hosted an event for customers, roughly 40,000 visitors were enjoying the park in just a day.
After several changes in ownership and diminishing interest, the park was purchased by Charles Nibley in 1921 — and would then be donated to Salt Lake City on the condition that it would always remain an open park space. In turn, it would become a nine-hole golf course named Nibley Park, which the city still owns and operates.
With well over a century passed since its closing, Wandamere Park forever survives as a piece of Utah’s history for its profound influence on today’s culture of entertainment.