Looking Back: Jefferson Beach Amusement Park Fire April 20, 1955

St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 29, 2015


A spectacular fire damaged Jefferson Beach Amusement Park 60 years ago on the morning of Friday, April 20, 1955. The damage was estimated at $40,000. According to the St. Clair Shores Herald news report, the blaze started in the fortune teller’s concession. The tower on top of that building collapsed on the fire hose, and the wind helped spread the flames to the pop-gun concession, the archery range and the funhouse. Firefighters from nine communities responded to the alarm. The St. Clair Shores Fire Department, under Chief Eckhout, brought five pieces of equipment, including three pumping engines, 26 men and 4,500 feet of hose.

The Roseville Fire Department brought two pumpers, two trucks, 2,500 feet of hose and 33 men. Fire equipment and firefighters from Grosse Pointe Shores, Harper Woods, Harrison Township, East Detroit, Warren, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Woods and Macomb Township arrived at the scene. Fire Chaplain Father O’Connor, from Sacred Heart parish in Roseville, also answered the call. Chief Eckhout asked for help from Roseville and welcomed the other responders from surrounding communities.

Park president and manager Harry Stahl announced that those parts of the amusement park that were not damaged by fire would be open for business Friday evening. Rebuilding would begin immediately. The Jefferson Beach Amusement Park closed soon after, in 1959.  To view more historic images of the amusement park, visit the Digital Media Archive at www.scslibrary.org.

— Submitted by Cynthia Bieniek, archivist