Des Moines Zoological Gardens

It all began when L.M. Mann bought 100 acres of land and created a destination.  He opened the Des Moines Zoological Gardens on July 4, 1889.  The park  included an elephant, lions, panthers, kangaroos, monkeys, elk, numerous birds, and other animals.  Mann ran the zoo for one year and then sold it to numerous business men who made improvements, including a levy on the south side of the park.

In 1912, local businessmen became interested in creating an amusement park in Des Moines.  The Zoological Gardens were no longer in use and became the chosen property for Riverview Amusement Park.  An ice company owned the property and had been harvesting ice from the Zoo Lakes.   Ice makers were now in use, so the lakes were no longer needed for gathering ice.

From 1915-1978 the location was the Riverview Amusement Park, and is now Kiwanis Riverview Nature Island.

2 Responses

  1. Good info. Tx. If you have any info or photos of the Switchback (gravity, not motorized) “roller coaster” at Prospect Park in the 1880s I’m sure people would be interested.

  2. None come to mind, but if I come across something, I’ll let you know.

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