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What Does Waldameer Mean? (Erie, Pennsylvania)

Updated: Apr 19

How did Waldameer get its name? Where did the name come from? Find out here.


 

Waldameer was established in 1896 by the Erie Electric Motor Company.


The Erie Electric Motor Company purchased a 65-acre parcel of land that overlooked Lake Erie and named it Waldameer Park. At the time of the purchase, the land was already a popular picnic area known as Hoffman's Grove. It's easy to understand why it was so popular because it had beautiful groves of trees and a beach along Lake Erie.


But why would a company like this be interested in starting an amusement park? And why did they choose Waldameer as its name?


Things make more sense when you know the history of trolley parks.


Click here to learn about the children's book series about Waldameer


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, trolley parks were the new craze.


After the electric trolley (also known as the electric streetcar) was invented, trolleys were built all over the country. In order to maximize their profits, trolley companies wanted to increase ridership on the weekends. So companies came up with a solution: building trolley parks at the end of their routes.


These trolley parks often consisted of picnic groves, where events could take place like concerts and dances. Some trolley parks eventually included swimming pools, carousels, Ferris wheels, boat rides, and restaurants.


This plan by many trolley companies to increase ridership on the weekends worked, and people flocked to trolley parks. As you may have guessed, many of these trolley parks evolved into amusement parks, which is how Waldameer came to be.


But what does Waldameer mean, and why did the Erie Electric Motor Company choose Waldameer Park as its new trolley park's name?



Erie was much different in 1896, but one thing has remained the same.


Erie has always welcomed immigrants, and these immigrants have in turn brought their culture to influence the fabric of Erie. The tradition of welcoming newcomers continues today, as Erie is a destination for refugees and has welcomed more than 13,500 refugees since 2008.


The first recorded German immigrant to arrive in Erie was Wolfgang Erhart in 1830. He built his house on what is now the corner of East 10 and State Streets. By the time Waldameer was established in 1896, thousands of German immigrants called Erie home.


German immigrants started businesses and became integral to the culture of Erie. Even today, many Erie residents claim German as their heritage, more than any other ethnic heritage.


So how are German immigrants related to Waldameer?


(Sources: Wikipedia, DANK German Heritage Society of Erie)


The name Waldameer reflects Erie's German culture.


When the Erie Electric Motor Company named their new trolley park, they decided to reflect Erie's German culture by naming it Waldameer Park. Waldameer is German for "woods by the sea," which accurately depicted the beautiful picnic grove spot overlooking Lake Erie.


Next time you're riding the Sky Ride and your friend or family member asks what Waldameer means, you'll have the answer.



Can't get enough of Waldameer? Enjoy the amusement park all year long with a Waldameer children's book!


Waldameer Mystery Files is a children's book series for readers ages 7-11. The books take place at Waldameer, where siblings Seth and Julia solve mysteries with their friends. Each mystery revolves around a ride, and the children learn about Waldameer history throughout their adventures.


The series currently has 3 installments. Click here for more info:

  • #1 The Long-Lost Locket

  • #2 The Sneaky Sabotage

  • #3 The Curious Clues

Waldameer Mystery Files books are available online and locally at Waldameer, Werner Books, Pressed Books, A La Carte, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, and the Hagen History Center.

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