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Dark Destinations > United States > Locations in Connecticut > Lake Compounce Amusement Park

Lake Compounce Amusement Park Other destinations within a
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Filed Under: Halloween Events > Haunted Houses/Hayrides
Historical Locations
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Paranormal Hot Spots
Theme Attractions > Theme Parks
Added By: Tom G
Added On: January 22, 2008 - 09:38 AM UTC
Last Modified: July 02, 2008 - 02:56 PM UTC
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822 Lake Ave, Bristol, CT 06010, USA (Bristol, Connecticut)
Lake Compounce Amusement Park
Lake Compounce Amusement Park is the oldest continuously operating theme park in North America. On October 6, 1846, the owner of the lake, Gad Norton, allowed a local scientist to use Lake Compounce as a location for a series of experiments with electricity. The experiments drew crowds of spectators from the local area. Gad took notice of the crowds and was inspired to transform the area into a picnic park complete with gazebo, public swimming and picnic tables. Within two years the park had opened Connecticut's first 10-pin bowling alley complete with pool tables and the park's first ride -- a hand-powered revolving swing.

In 1895 a casino with a ballroom and restaurant was added to the park. In 1911 a carousel was purchased for the park. This was followed by a roller coaster (the "Green Dragon") in 1914. By the 1920s the Green Dragon coaster was replaced with the Wild Cat wooden coaster and more rides followed; transforming the location into a theme park.

A Haunted Theme Park? A Cursed Theme Park?
Lake Compounce is said to be named after Mattatuck/Tunxis Native American Chieftain John Compound. The legends about John Compound vary a bit. Each legend has him selling the lake and the land around it to the Norton family in 1684. The story has it that he, and other members of his tribe sold it for a limited amount of coin, some trinkets and a kettle. Depending on the tale, the kettle varies from a copper tea kettle to a brass kettle large enough for him to sit inside of. The legend ends with Compound's death mere days after the land deal. One story has him paddling out into the lake in the brass kettle (using it as a boat) and then sinking and drowning. Another story has him realizing that he had been ripped off in the sale of the lake, rowing out into the lake in a boat with the copper tea kettle tied to his neck and throwing himself overboard to his death in despair. Another version of this tale has John Compound drowning himself in the lake the day prior to its sale. The last story has his own tribe members murdering him in anger over the sale by throwing him in the lake.

Story also has that the Norton family members were spiritualists who fled persecution in Massachusetts. Their spiritualistic rituals are blamed in some stories as being the real cause of hauntings on the property. The problem with this aspect of the tale is that the spiritualist movement didn't exist until the 1800s. The legend also says that the head of the Norton family also died from injuries sustained falling from a ladder within days of the land purchase.

For a park that has been around for more than a century and a half, it is not unusual that there would be some deaths within the park. Unfortunately a string of deaths occurred in a five year period around the beginning of the new millennium. There had been eighteen years since the fatal accident prior to the five year string of misfortune. Some claim the deaths are the result of a curse upon the lake starting with the death of Chief John Compound.

In July of 1981, Michele Johnson (age 16) died in a fall from a roller coaster after she stood up and reached out the side while it was operating. On August 20, 1999, Matthew Henne (age 16) an employee of the park jumped aboard the Tornado ride as it was moving and was dragged underneath and crushed. He died from his injuries on the following day. On July 1, 2001, Devon M. Alexander (age 5) drowned in the lake. He had been on an inner-tube slide that emptied into a 10-12 foot deep section of the lake. He sank to the bottom of the lake and was not recovered for nearly a half hour. He was apparently revived but ultimately died in a hospital within the week. Another employee of the park, Wilfredo Martinez, was struck by the Boulder Dash roller coaster on June 13, 2001. He had been trimming weeds prior to the day's operations. Martinez (age 23), standing on the coaster tracks and wearing ear plugs, apparently did not hear the coaster going through its test run and it caught him unaware, striking and killing him. On May 17, 2004 a six inch diameter tree limb fell fifty feet from a dead tree and landed on park customer Gwen Rice (age 36) and her son, Sean Rice (age 5). Gwen survived her injuries, but young Sean died shortly after at Hartford Hospital.

There are also stories of deaths prior to 1981. The details are vague in comparison to the deaths recorded in the late 20th Century and beginning of the 21st. There are tales of workers killed by early roller coasters and rotor rides and another young child drowning in the lake.

There have been stories circulating for over a hundred years about supernatural happenings in the park. Lights flash on and off on their own. Objects move about of their own accord. In the ballroom, disembodied music and voices have been heard as shades of past revellers flit by the windows.

Known for featuring live musical acts during its history, the park has hosted performances from musical acts ranging from Cab Calloway to Frank Sinatra (in the Starlight Ballroom) and Bob Dylan to UB40 (at the outdoor amphitheater). On July, 21 1989, the pop music act Milli Vanilli was performing on the amphitheater stage when the recording they were lip-synching to began to skip. The performers took a beating from critics and finally on November 12, 1990, the band's producer, Frank Farian, revealed to the public that Milli Vanilli's front men, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, had never sang any of the vocals both on the album and during live performances. This resulted in the Grammy awarded to Milli Vanilli being withdrawn. It also resulted in multiple lawsuits and ultimately led to drug addiction, crime and eventually suicide for Rob Pilatus eight years later.

Milli Vanilli...cursed by Chief John Compound?

Ghost Hunt
The park offers many different rides, including the original carousel (a nationally registered historic place) and the Wildcat roller coaster built in 1927. There are also three more roller coasters available with another planned for the future. There is a water park that continues to expand. There is also a dark ride designed by the Sally Corporation called Ghost Hunt. The ride takes its car occupants through a haunted house setting known as Bleakstone Manor. The style of the haunt is cartoonish with bright neon colors under black lights. The cars are equipped with laser guns with which riders can shoot at targets throughout the ride.

The Haunted Graveyard
During the months of September and October the Lake Compounce Amusement Park transforms itself into a Halloween event, complete with multiple haunted attractions. The Halloween attractions include the Reaper's Realm, Killer Pumpkins, Castle Vampyre, The Catacombs, Forgotten Cemetery, Living Dead, Medieval Dungeon
Haunted Manor, The Vortex and The Labyrinth. A portion of the profits raised by the Haunted Graveyard are donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Reservation Road
The 2007 thriller Reservation Road was filmed in part at Lake Compounce Amusement Park. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix (8mm/Signs) and Jennifer Connelly (Phenomena/Dark City).
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Related Sites
Dread Central: Lake Compounce Amusement Park
Dread Central's Cold Spots feature article on the haunted Lake Compounce Amusement Park in Connecticut.
Wikipedia: Lake Compounce
Wikipedia entry for the Lake Compounce Amusement Park. The park is reportedly haunted.
Lake Compounce Fan Forum
An unofficial fan site for the reputedly haunted theme park in Connecticut.
Connecticut Museum Quest: Lake Compounce
Entry for the haunted amusement park at Connecticut Museum Quest.
True Hauntings of America: Lake Compounce
Entry for Connecticut's haunted theme park at True Hauntings of America.
Ride Accidents: Lake Compounce
Articles about Lake Compounce at Ride
The Haunted Graveyard - Lake Compounce
The Haunted Graveyard seasonal haunted attraction at Lake Compounce in Connecticut.
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See Also on
Blog: Dark Destination's Birthday: Top 25 Destinations (08/05/08)
Blog: The Top 25 for the Month of October 2008 (11/04/08)
Blog: The Curse of Lake Compounce (11/12/08)
Blog: The Dark Destinations Top 50 for Spring 2009 (05/24/09)
Available from
Lake Compounce (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing))
Reservation Road
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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