Kissel’s Walnut Hills Garden and Family Resort opened in 1891 at the end of the Gilbert Avenue cable car line. The park initially offered swings, pony track and fireworks. By 1932 Ralph and Russell Kissel began their careers as concessionaires at the Cincinnati Zoo and Coney Island operating pony tracks and miniature railroad rides and used their experience to help transform the resort into an amusement park. In 1939, the family branched out and developed a carnival route while maintaining the amusement park.
By 1946, Kissel Brothers Amusement Park was firmly established at 8771 Colerain Ave near the Northgate Mall and Groesbeck Corner (Colerain & Galbraith Roads). A pony ride was added that year. The park was managed by Ralph’s wife, Olga. In 1952 an airplane chair and auto ride were added to the park.
In 1958 the parks’ attractions included kiddie rides, whirl o’, pony track, a Ferris wheel, a train ride, miniature golf, a Mangles Whip, kiddie boats, a horse trail, a roller coaster, carousel, airplane chairs, jeeps, sport cars and an Octopus. For a $1, patrons could get 14 tickets.
In 1960, a small fire occurred June 3 forcing the evacuation of 8000 people onto Colerain Avenue, causing a major traffic jam. By this time, the park offered 25 rides, including a petting zoo and two stage coach rides.
Between 1961 and 1964, three more rides were added, including go-karts and a giant slide. Sadly, on April 24, 1965, the animals and rides were sold at an auction. The land was sold to Ronald Joseph who opened Joseph Chevrolet on the site. The Kissel family concentrated their energy to expanding their carnival routes.
Today, Kissel Brothers Shows are one of the largest carnival operators in Ohio, operating from mid April to late October annually.
Kissel Brothers Park Photo Album
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Photo credits: Top: soaphs file, T.Rhein, park archive.