May 5, 1923: Fire Destroys Luna Park in Charleston


On May 5, 1923, an accidental fire started by welders destroyed most of Luna Park on Charleston’s West Side. The seven-acre amusement park had been built in 1912 on a former three-hole golf course.

For the 11 years it existed, Luna Park was one of the most popular attractions in Charleston. Excursion trains and boats dropped off visitors from as far away as Point Pleasant, and the park’s crowds sometimes swelled to more than 10,000 on special occasions like the 4th of July.

Luna Park featured rocky, tree-filled landscapes, and streams. Visitors walked the grounds using footbridges, which led to the Royal Giant Dips Coaster, a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, a midway with games of chance and skill, a zoo, a skating rink, a boxing ring, and a dance pavilion. Special entertainment included free outdoor movies, hot air balloons, and trapeze artists.

After the park burned down, the company that owned the land offered it to the city for use as a park, but city leaders refused, citing maintenance costs. So, the gullies were backfilled, and a residential neighborhood was built on the site.